June 26, 2012

Fischler Report: Who really should've won at NHL Awards

By Stan Fischler

Some of the NHL Award recipients seemed to surprise many, as there was solid evidence for the other nominees to have hoisted the trophies.

Our Jordan Schoem selects a few errors in the voting:

* NORRIS TROPHY:

Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara had a Norris-worthy season in 2011-12. (Getty Images)

Erik Karlson is a terrific offensive-defenseman.  Where he is not perfect is when it comes to defending the net in his own zone. The young player is a wonderful backliner and the argument that Ottawa wouldn’t have made it to a seven-game series with the Rangers without him.

This award however is meant for the best defenseman, and even though Karlsson scored more points than any D-man, Zdeno Chara is a more physical and trustworthy player against the competitions top players.

Karlsson is the type of player who can make brilliant things happen on the ice, however Chara’s defensive numbers were much more promising than Karlsson’s, as evidenced by his astonishing league-leading +/- rating of 33.

​Chara is not your typical defenseman, as he has arguably the hardest shot in the world as well as having one of the biggest physical frames in the NHL. 

* HART TROPHY:

Evgeni Malkin was the most important player to the Penguins this year, especially with the absence of Sidney Crosby.

Winning the League MVP over Henrik Lundqvist of the Rangers and Steven Stamkos of the Lightning was not a surprise, however Lundqvist meant more to his team than Malkin did, backstopping them to the best record and most points in the Eastern Conference.

Although Malkin had 109 points this past season, it was Lundqvist who stole games and forced overtime more often than Malkin did, providing a true MVP-esque performance from October-April.

*JACK ADAMS TROPHY:

The Blues went 43-15-11 after he took over last November 6th.

However, John Tortorella took a team that was supposed to fight for a playoff spot to the number one seed in the Eastern Conference and second most points overall.

Tortorella guided his young team through tough hills through the season, such as opening the season in Europe, being followed by the HBO cameras for “24/7” Road To the NHL’s Winter Classic, and having to play with the pressure of being the Number one seed in the Eastern Conference for much of the season.

Tortorella finished second in the voting behind Hitchcock, as his past season behind the Rangers bench did not go unnoticed.

* CALDER TROPHY: Gabriel Landeskog led the Colorado Avalanche in goals as a rookie, which is no easy feat.  However, New Jersey Devils forward Adam Henrique had a 7 game point streak during the regular season (most of an NHL rookie) and also led the NHL in shorthanded goals scored by a rookie.

These stats, along with his maturity and charisma, could have easily made him the choice for the Rookie of the Year award.  In the playoffs, Henrique played like a veteran, scoring big-time goals and making series-clinching plays.

However, Henrique came into this season with lower expectations than Landeskog, and even went through an intense injury, which helps make the case on why he should have won the Calder trophy.

* G.M. OF THE YEAR AWARD:

Doug Armstrong made a slew of terrific signings for the Blues and crafted a team that was ranked third in the NHL in points.

However, g.m. Dave Tallon of the Florida Panthers brought in 10 new faces this past season and developed a team that won its first ever Southeast Division Title.

GM David Poile has also made Nashville a powerhouse through outstanding drafting and key trading throughout the regular season, which is why he also would have made a good choice to win the award.

However it was Tallon who made the biggest impact by making the most prolific and positive moves, bringing the Panthers and the Florida Faithful into the playoffs and winning their first ever Division Championship.

* LADY BYNG TROPHY:

Brian Campbell only had six penalty minutes throughout the regular season, which is quite a feat.  However, Matt Moulson of the New York Islanders could have won this award based on very similar numbers.

He also only had six penalty minutes last season, while posting 36 goals.  That was a high percentage of the Islanders offense, and it would be hard to imagine how many more games the Islanders would have lost had they not had Moulson in their lineup.

Moulson also had five game-winning goals this year, which is five more than Campbell, who did not accomplish that feat once this season.

FREE AGENCY PICKS

The "Free Agency Follies" begin on Sunday with Zach Parise and Ryan Suter attracting suitors galore.

Our Daniel Friedman offers a capsule comment on each of the biggies:

Zach Parise must decide whether he wants to return to his role as captain of the Devils or head elsewhere. (Getty Images)

* ZACH PARISE: The Devils captain will remain in New Jersey, predicts Friedman. But at least a half-dozen other general managers are saying, "Not so fast!" Parise's decision will be shaped by his agent, his father, J.P. Parise, and Zach's gut feeling. This is a VERY tough bet and you can be sure that the Rangers are unconvinced about Parise's "No New York" comment a few weeks ago.

* RYAN SUTER: A premier defenseman if ever one was available, Suter will stay in Nashville -- according to The Friedman Theory -- although Dan doesn't see it as a "shoo-in." Neither do we. There's a lot to like in Music City but, then again, based on all available offers -- figure Rangers again! -- the options and money look greener on the other side of the rink. We say that it's at least even money that another team will best suit Suter.

* JAROMIR JAGR: The big Czech still believes he can be an asset and he certainly helped Philly last season. We doubt that either the Rangers or Pittsburgh will opt for Double J although Friedman believes otherwise. In fact our feeling is that Jagr will have a difficult time finding any team who'llpay him the big bucks he seeks.

* ALEX SEMIN: The Rapid Russian is in his playing prime but his erratic play makes Semin notorious around the league. That said, Friedman figures that the champ Kings will pitch for Alex because Semin will fit in with LA's style and coach Darryl Sutter will tame the talent when taming is necessary.

* SHANE DOAN and RAY WHITNEY: Friedman believes that they both will re-sign with Phoenix. Our feeling is that if Doan goes elsewhere the captain figures that the deal to buy the Coyotes will fall through!

GOSSIP

Hartford Courant columnist Jeff Jacobs did some neat newspapering after Connecticut’s Jonathan Quick won the Conn Smythe Trophy. Jacobs located the other Smythe-winner from the Nutmeg State. That would be Hall of Famer Brian Leetch, more recently an MSG Network analyst.  Brian’s X-Ray of Quick’s goaltending style is right on target.  Listen up: “Jonathan’s quickness post to post is extraordinary . Everybody focused on Tim Thomas last year with a different style, a hybrid.  I wouldn’t put Jonathan in the same category, but he stood out in how low he gets and how quick he is.  It looks unorthodox, different from the straight butterfly and cover-your-angles, but he always ends up in the same position where he’s square to the puck.  You think you see an opening.  All of a sudden a pad flashes.  He was great.” … 

Here are some reasons why the NHL Players’ Association should ensure against a work stoppage: 1. Players never had it so good, monetarily or otherwise; 2. The NHL played for nearly 96% capacity—102% for the playoffs—and did a record $3.3 billion worth of business; 3. Revenues have set records every year; 4. TV viewership is at its best in 15 years. …

Just Wondering Department: How much longer will it take Greg Jamison to put his equity together for the Coyotes to remain in Glendale? You can bet that free agent-to-be Shane Doan is wondering the same thing. …  

Jimmy Shapiro of Props PR—courtesy of Bovada (Sports Betting Site)—tells us that the Penguins are favored [7-1] to win the next Stanley Cup. The Kings come in at 11-1 with the Rangers, Vancouver, Chicago, Detroit and St. Louis at 12-1. Finalist New Jersey is listed at 30-1. … 

Jordan and Marc Staal will lead the Hurricanes into Orlando’s Amway Center for an exhibition Sept. 27th against the Lightning. … 

Orlando’s Solar Bears return to action in the ECHL next fall.