Predicting the NHL Award Winners at the Quarter Mark
We are right at about the quarter mark of the NHL season which means its a good time to really sum up how the first part of the season has gone and after 20 or so games, there is some structure and appearance as to what the NHL season might look like. So with that said let’s take a look at who will be raising the individual and team trophies come the NHL Awards in June
Hart Memorial Trophy (MVP): Finalists: Sidney Crosby, Tyler Seguin, Vladimir Tarasenko
Winner: Sidney Crosby, Center, Pittsburgh Penguins
Yeah it’s not bold. Yeah it’s not original. But can you argue? Love or hate Sid the Kid, there is absolutely no denying that he can flat out play the game of hockey. Sorry Flyers fans, but I’m just not buying into Jakub Voracek’s stellar start. He’ll end up having a very good season, but he won’t be able to hang with Crosby throughout all 82 games. Same goes for Tyler Seguin and Steven Stamkos. Stamkos and Seguin are two of the games elite players, but even as good as they are, they can’t compare to #87. Vladimir Tarasenko is currently enjoying a breakout season and while there is no doubt in my mind the young Russian will MVP one day, this year isn’t the year. Seguin and Tarasenko will have 90-100 point seasons, but in the end Sid will go home with his 2nd straight MVP.
James Norris Memorial Trophy: (Best Defenseman) Finalists: Mark Giordano, Shea Weber, Ryan Suter
Winner: Mark Giordano, Defense, Calgary Flames
Mark Giordano is off to a sensational start this season racking up 22 points in 21 games and sporting a +9 rating. Giordano’s play has been a large key to the Flames success so far this season, and while some are surprised at the play of Giordano, this is just the usual for him. Last year, Giordano registered 47 points in just 64 games and finished with a +12 rating, a very impressive achievement given how poor his team was. Those numbers show that Giordano’s start isn’t by accident. He really is that good. Shea Weber and Ryan Suter are both excellent defenseman and arguably two of the best in the league and while they should both have fantastic seasons, Giordano’s on pace for superb numbers and he’ll come away with the trophy this season.
Vezina Trophy: (Best goaltender) Finalists: Jonathan Quick, Pekka Rinne, Fredrik Andersen
Winner: Pekka Rinne, Goaltender, Nashville Predators
The Nashville Predators are off to a hot start and there are two big reasons as to why. Rookie center Filip Forsberg and the man behind the mask, Pekka Rinne. After battling off some injuries, the lanky Fin has been a brick wall this season. In 16 starts, Rinne is 12-3-1, with a .930 save percentage, and a dazzling 1.92 goals against average. For years, the Preds depended on Rinne to get them in to the playoffs, and it’s no surprise that when Rinne was struggling and injured the team struggled as well. Jonathan Quick has a pair of Stanley Cup rings and is maybe the best goalie in the world, but Rinne is just going to be a bit better this year. Andersen meanwhile is a dark horse here, but the young Swede has put up spectacular numbers to start his career and is looking like he’s fully developed into a top caliber starter. Andersen will likely get a Vezina somewhere along the line, but right now it’s Pekka time.
Calder Memorial Trophy: (Rookie of the Year) Finalists: Filip Forsberg, Aaron Ekblad, Johnny Gaudreau
Winner: Filip Forsberg, Center, Nashville Predators
Oh Capitals. How could you possibly trade this guy for Martin Erat and Michael Latta? It’s not like Forsberg popped up out of nowhere. He was a highly regarded prospect from the 2012 Draft, and a mere 10 months after selecting him, Capitals George McPhee dealt him to get veteran Martin Erat. For Washington, the deal is a major bust. For Nashville, it’s an absolute steal. Forsberg is on a torrid pace to start the season racking up 22 points in 19 games and a whopping +20 rating. And this guy is still only 20 years old. Aaron Ekblad and Johnny Gaudreau are both terrific young players, and both should make great NHL stars but they can’t hold a candle to what Forsberg is doing this year. Most of the award races should be tight, but unless something drastically changes, Forsberg should run away with this.
Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy: (Player who demonstrates best perseverance) Finalists: Olli Maatta, Jaden Schwartz, Josh Harding
Winner: Olli Maatta, Defense, Pittsburgh Penguins
The Bill Masterton trophy is normally award to a player who has had to fight through adversity. The last winner, Dominic Moore returned to the NHL after spending a year off due to the death of his wife. Jaden Schwartz is playing in mourning of his sister, while Josh Harding, the 2013 winner is continuing to play despite Multiple Sclerosis. This award though, goes to Olli Maatta. On November 4th, Maatta had surgery to remove a tumor that was thyroid cancer. Two weeks player, he was playing again. Maatta only missed 6 games displaying the perseverance to overcome the adversity.
Frank J. Selke Award (Best defensive forward) Finalists: Patrice Bergeron, Jonathan Toews, Anze Kopitar
Winner: Anze Kopitar, Center, Los Angeles Kings
The popular choice to win would be Bergeron. He won last year and in 2012 and is easily one of the best defensive forwards in hockey. After him, you would probably guess Pavel Datsyuk who has won the award three times. His injuries must be noted though, and it’s safe to think that might hamper his production. Toews is another safe choice and gets a lot of media love for his two way hockey game. Anze Kopitar is almost the other guy. Kopitar is regarded as a very good hockey player, and his two way game is highly praised but he’s never included in the same conversation as those others. Last year, he did get nominated but Bergeron went home with the trophy This year is finally the time for Kopitar to get the respect and the award he’s rightfully earned. Kopitar hasn’t had the best start to the season offensively, but he’s over 50 percent in the faceoff circle, and has been magnificent defensively for L.A.
Jack Adams Award: (Best Coach) Finalists: Willie Desjardins, Jack Capuano, Peter Laviolette
Winner: Willie Desjardins, Vancouver Canucks
It was a miserable season last year for Vancouver. After years of success including 2 Presidents Trophy’s Vancouver finished 6th from the bottom last year largely in part to a flurry of injuries and horrid coaching. The hiring of John Tortorella came back to bite the Canucks as his fiery ways didn’t fit in with the Canucks nor did his defensive style. Willie Desjardins was brought in to replace him and so far it’s paying dividends. The Canucks are off to a fantastic start and there is no doubt that Desjardins has something to do with that. Laviolette and Capuano meanwhile, have also been a large part of their improved teams but Desjardins has definitely had more of an impact and as a result, the Canucks have returned to where they were before the Tortorella debacle.
Lady Byng Memorial Trophy: (Best sportsmanship) Finalists: Martin St. Louis, Pavel Datsyuk, Patrick Marleau
Winner: Martin St. Louis, Right Wing, New York Rangers
All three guys are incredibly worthy of the award. St. Louis, Datsyuk and Marleau are three of the most respected players in the NHL. It really is hard to pick who will win this award, because it is really tough to determine exactly what it is based off. Obviously we know the basic version, but it’s tough to really get a grip on the full basis. Marty St. Louis is one of the most loved and respected guys in hockey, so we’ll say he will pick up his 4th Lady Byng Award.
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