June 20, 2012

Predictions for the 2012 NHL Awards

By Jesse Connolly

Plenty of hardware will be handed out tonight in Las Vegas, where the NHL will host its annual awards show. Here are my predictions:

HART TROPHY

The Hart Memorial Trophy is an annual award given to the player judged to be the most valuable to his team.

FINALISTS

Henrik Lundqvist (NYR) – 39 wins, 1.97 GAA, .930 SV%

Evgeni Malkin (PIT) – 50 goals, 59 assists, 109 points, plus-18

Steven Stamkos (TBL) – 60 goals, 37 assists, 97 points, plus-7

WHO I'D VOTE FOR: Steven Stamkos

WHO WILL WIN: Evgeni Malkin. While Lundqvist makes a compelling case, and my line of thinking is that the Lightning would undoubtedly have a top three pick at this year’s draft without Stamkos (they missed the playoffs by just eight points), Malkin carried the Sidney Crosby-less Penguins for 75 percent of the season. I can’t see his strong supporting cast or Crosby’s impact when healthy keeping the Russian forward from taking this one home.

VEZINA TROPHY

The Vezina Trophy is an annual award given to the goalkeeper adjudged to be the best at this position.

FINALISTS

Henrik Lundqvist (NYR) – 39-18-5, 1.97 GAA, .930 SV%

Pekka Rinne (NSH) – 43-18-8, 2.39 GAA, .923 SV%

Jonathan Quick (LAK) – 35-21-13, 1.95 GAA, .929 SV%

WHO I'D VOTE FOR: Jonathan Quick

WHO WILL WIN: Henrik Lundqvist. In all honesty, you could flip a coin here between Lundqvist and Quick. Sorry, Pekka, but you don’t have a prayer. When the Kings offense was missing in action before the trade deadline, Quick was literally the only reason Los Angeles didn’t dig themselves a hole they couldn’t climb out of. On the other hand, this award has somehow managed to elude Lundqvist throughout his stellar career. After all the talk about this finally being his year, backed up by his best NHL season to date, I think this one goes to the Swedish superstar.

NORRIS TROPHY

The James Norris Memorial Trophy is an annual award given to the defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position.

FINALISTS

Zdeno Chara (BOS) – 12 goals, 40 assists, 52 points, plus-33

Erik Karlsson (OTT) – 19 goals, 59 assists, 78 points, plus-16

Shea Weber (NSH) – 19 goals, 30 assists, 49 points, plus-21

WHO I'D VOTE FOR: Zdeno Chara

WHO WILL WIN: Shea Weber. Karlsson is essentially the Swedish version of a healthy Mike Green, and I think enough voters recognize that this award is reserved for all-around play at the position. Chara, despite turning 35 in March, put together arguably his greatest season yet. However, something in my gut tells me – much like in Lundqvist’s case – it’s Weber’s turn to win one. The hockey world had a bit of a hard-on for the Predators’ dogged style of play all season long, so I sense they’ll follow through on that and give Weber some deserved, formal recognition for his efforts.

CALDER TROPHY

The Calder Memorial Trophy is an annual award given to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition in the National Hockey League.

FINALISTS

Adam Henrique (NJD) – 16 goals, 35 assists, 51 points, plus-8

Gabriel Landeskog (COL) – 22 goals, 30 assists, 52 points, plus-20

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (EDM) – 18 goals, 34 assists, 52 points, minus-2

WHO I'D VOTE FOR: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

WHO WILL WIN: Gabriel Landeskog. Nugent-Hopkins had this trophy all wrapped up until suffering an injury late in the year, which limited his season to 62 games. While I feel that’s a big enough body of work to award his efficiency (given that he crushed his competitors in points-per-game), I see Landeskog and Henrique being in a dog-fight for this one. We’ll go with the Avs’ 19-year-old winger, with the tie-breaker being his sizeable 219-83 edge in hits.

LADY BYNG TROPHY

The Lady Byng Memorial Trophy is an annual award given to the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.

FINALISTS

Brian Campbell (FLA) – 4 goals, 49 assists, 53 points

Jordan Eberle (EDM) – 34 goals, 42 assists, 76 points

Matt Moulson (NYI) – 36 goals, 33 assists, 69 points

WHO I'D VOTE FOR: Brian Campbell

WHO WILL WIN: Brian Campbell. Why? Because I said so, mostly, and the fact that no one actually cares who wins this award.

SELKE TROPHY

The Frank J. Selke Trophy is an annual award given to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game. 

FINALISTS

David Backes (STL) – 24 goals, 30 assists, 54 points, plus-15

Patrice Bergeron (BOS) – 22 goals, 42 assists, 64 points, plus-36

Pavel Datsyuk (DET) – 19 goals, 48 assists, 67 points, plus-21

WHO I'D VOTE FOR: Patrice Bergeron (duh!)

WHO WILL WIN: Patrice Bergeron. Datsyuk took home this award three years in a row (2008-10) before Ryan Kesler, behind quite the hype machine, swiped it from him in 2011. Now it’s Bergeron’s turn to do the same. For far too long, the highly-gifted, multi-talented center hasn’t received the widespread praise he deserves. If the NHL – specifically the Broadcasters’ Association that selects the Selke winner – fails to honor No. 37 in Black and Gold this evening, it’ll be almost as revolting as tossing a box full of happy kittens into a pool of fiery lava.

JACK ADAMS AWARD

The Jack Adams Award is an annual award presented by the National Hockey League Broadcasters' Association to the NHL coach judged to have contributed the most to his team's success. 

FINALISTS

Ken Hitchcock (STL) – 43 wins, 15 losses, 11 OT losses (69 games)

Paul MacLean (OTT) – 41 wins, 31 losses, 10 OT losses

John Tortorella (NYR) – 51 wins, 24 losses, 7 OT losses

WHO I'D VOTE FOR: Ken Hitchcock

WHO WILL WIN: Ken Hitchcock. MacLean deserves the loudest round of applause the province of Ontario has ever bestowed upon anyone for guiding a Senators team picked to finish last to the playoffs, but Hitchcock’s numbers are just too good to ignore. After the Blues fired Davis Payne following a 6-7-0 starts, Hitchcock’s squad went on an unbelievable roll that seemed to never end… well, until the Kings swept them in the second round. Tortorella earns high marks for taking the Rangers to the next level, but this award is usually reserved for coaches who help their teams rise from the ashes.

OTHER PREDICTIONS

MASTERTON TROPHY – Max Pacioretty (MTL). Courtesy of Zdeno Chara.

TED LINDSAY/LESTER B. PEARSON/HEY HOW AWESOME WAS THAT GUY? AWARD – Steven Stamkos (TBL). He was pretty awesome.

MESSIER LEADERSHIP AWARD – Ryan Callahan (NYR). Blatant bias. Oh well.

NHL FOUNDATION AWARD – Mike Fisher (NSH). For assuring Carrie Underwood remained happy in Tennessee. If that isn't community service, I'm not sure what is.

GENERAL MANAGER OF THE YEAR – Dale Tallon (FLA). Did you think the Panthers were going to make the playoffs? You filthy liar. You did not and you know it!

Jesse Connolly can be reached at jconnolly@hockeyjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JesseNEHJ.