Tomorrow marks the NHL Awards in Las Vegas and I think it is time to make some predictions on who I feel should be the winners for each award. Not necessarily going to be right in all cases but it will mostly be based off of my gut rather than using brain power. I’ll analyze the awards I feel necessary and give my takes on who I think deserves each the most. You have to remember that most of these awards are based on strictly the regular season and that will be the key factor that I am basing my arguments on.
Hart Trophy (Most Valuable Player)
Nominees: Taylor Hall, Anze Kopitar, Nathan MacKinnon
Immediately after looking at these three names, I cut out Kopitar and make this award between Nate MacKinnon and Taylor Hall. I am not saying that Anze didn’t have a fantastic year but these two other guys are the reasons their respective teams were able to get as far as they did. So many players could have been nominated for this award including guys like Claude Giroux and Nikita Kucherov. But you have to remember that it comes down to which of these players was most valuable to their team. Neither the Devils nor the Avalanche make the playoffs without Hall & MacKinnon. If it were up to me, I think I would have to give this one to MacKinnon. With Matt Duchene being shipped off to Ottawa at the beginning of the season, it seemed as though it was going to be another lost season for the struggling Avs but all of a sudden, new life was sprung into Nate and he became the beast he was expected to be. Don’t get me wrong, Hall was a stud this season with an incredible 26-game point streak featured in his superior bounce back season but I think MacKinnon still edges him out. New Jersey had a very talented club of young skilled players and MacKinnon was more of an impact on the players around him. He turned Mikko Rantanen into a 84-point scorer and had the second highest point per game average for players within top ten scoring (1.31) behind only McDavid (1.32) with Hall sitting at (1.22). Personally what I think it comes down to is the fact that MacKinnon was more the reason the Avalanche were able to be so successful where Hall had maybe just a bit more help.
Winner: Nate MacKinnon.
Norris Trophy (Best Defensemen)
Nominees: Drew Doughty, PK Subban, Victor Hedman
Moving over to the defense and finally we get a year where we don’t have to make the argument for Karlsson vs. Burns. Unfortunately, even thought I really like the guy, I can’t give this one to PK considering how strong the back-end is in Nashville. For this particular award I think I am leaning towards Victor Hedman but the real reason for that is because I just don’t get to watch enough Western Conference hockey. I know Doughty is an animal out there on the ice but because I was able to see more from Hedman this year I have to give the edge to him. Hedman finished the season with 63 points and a +32 rating where Doughty finished 60 points and a +23. Both sets of impressive numbers giving the slight edge to Vic. Not being a defenseman myself I do not notice the intangibles that come with the role as well as some others do. Regardless I am testing my luck with the Swede for this one.
Winner: Victor Hedman.
Calder Trophy (Rookie of the Year)
Nominees: Matthew Barzal, Brock Boeser, Clayton Keller
I should probably say Barzal for this one because I have never seen a player move so smoothly around the ice in my life but this is going to be solely based on personal reasoning and I am giving my vote to Brock Boeser. The reasons for this include the fact that he has some of the best hair in hockey, he had a terrific season on a very poor hockey club but mostly because he was one of the heart and soul guys on my fantasy hockey team. Without Boeser I don’t make a strong push for the playoffs and truthfully if he doesn’t go down late in the season I might even end up winning the whole league. Don’t get me wrong Barzal will probably win this award and there is nothing I can do about it but a man can dream sometimes can he not? Let’s compare quick: Barzal > 82GP, 22G, 63A, 85P, 1.04P/GP – Boeser > 62GP, 29G, 25A, 55P, 0.89 P/GP. Seems ridiculous but if Brock plays 82 games that difference doesn’t look as bad as it does. But who I am really kidding here? He’s screwed.
Winner: Brock Boeser*.
Vezina Trophy (Best Goalie)
Nominees: Connor Hellebuyck, Pekka Rinne, Andrei Vasilevskiy
59 Games Started / 42 Wins / 2.31 GAA / .927 SV% / .712 Win% / 8 SO
64 Games Started / 44 Wins / 2.36 GAA / .924 SV% / .688 Win% / 6 SO
64 Games Started / 44 Wins / 2.62 GAA / .920 SV% / .688 Win% / 8 SO
I am basing this one solely on stats because that’s personally the best way I know how to critique a goaltender. Even with the stats it’s hard to decide where my heart lies. After some thought, for me it’s going to come down to the goalie that was able to stay consistent through it all. Someone who seemed to always be at their best and never ran into any rough patches during their season. That goalie for me has to be Pekka. Such a calm figure when manning his crease, he never seems to make a bad mistake or cost his team games. He plays great with a lead and can keep you in tight games with outstanding poise. A well deserved award for Mr. Rinne.
Winner: Pekka Rinne.
Jack Adams Trophy (Coach of the Year)
Nominees: Jared Bednar, Bruce Cassidy, Gerard Gallant
A storied nearly year old franchise, that’s what Gerard Gallant has turned the Vegas Golden Knights into, storied, in only their first season. I personally don’t think this award even comes down to an argument. After all the craziness that has gone on this year in the NHL, this would be the most fitting. Gallant led the Knights to a Pacific Division title, holding the 3rd best record in the Western Conference and the 5th best record in the entire league. He also managed to carry them all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals. Did I mention it was their inaugural season yet? This season for the Vegas Golden Knights, although frustrating, will go down in history as one of the greatest underdog moments in sports of all time and Gerard Gallant will be one of the key center pieces, a pioneer almost, for this unbelievable tale.
Winner: Gerard Gallant.