Never before in club history have the Vancouver Canucks had the potential to steal the show on NHL awards night as they do on Wednesday night in Las Vegas (you can see it via tape delay on CBC @ 8:30pm…they wouldn’t want to pre-empt the Road to Avonlea or anything). For the first time ever, a Canuck, Henrik Sedin will win the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s scoring champion. Henrik also has a chance to be only the second Canuck to win the newly named Lindsay Trophy (MVP as voted by the players) and the first to win the Hart Trophy. Ryan Kesler also has a chance to become Vancouver’s first Selke Trophy winner, as he is nominated for the second consecutive season. The chances of the Canucks capturing these awards are open to debate, which is what we’ll do here with Canuckz.com’s preview/prediction of the NHL awards.
Jack Adams (Coach of the Year):
Finalists: Joe Sacco, Dave Tippett, Barry Trotz
Analysis: This award almost always goes to the team that performed the best with the least expectations, and usually to coaches in their first year with their team. Both Sacco and Tippett fit this mold, while Trotz once again got his team into the playoffs despite a lack of talent on paper.
Prediction: Trotz deserves to win this award one day, but I believe it will be won by Tippett. Tippett took a team with very few expectations combined with the distractions of the whole Phoenix Coyotes ownership fiasco and lead them to the fourth highest point total in the league.
Selke Trophy (Best Defensive Forward):
Finalists: Pavel Datsyuk, Ryan Kesler, Jordan Staal
Analysis: Datsyuk has won this award the last two seasons, while Kesler was nominated last season. This award is usually given in part by reputation and in part by point production. Datsyuk has the best reputation, but his production was down this year. Kesler’s reputation is growing, especially given his play at the Olympics. Staal is becoming well respected as a defensive forward, but probably didn’t put up enough points to win.
Prediction: Despite only being a plus 1, I have a hunch that Kesler will win it this year. He was nominated last season and was even better this year. Datsyuk meanwhile wasn’t as good as his previous two Selke trophy seasons. I’m giving the nod to Kesler.
Lady Byng Trophy (Most Gentlemanly Player):
Finalists: Pavel Datsyuk, Brad Richards, Martin St Louis
Analysis: This award is usually a statistically-based award. The player with the best combination of high point totals and low penalty minutes tends to win it.
Prediction: Martin St Louis had the most points and had the fewest penalties. He’s also been nominated before and didn’t win it. Give him the trophy.
Calder Trophy (Rookie of the Year):
Finalists: Matt Duchene, Jimmy Howard, Tyler Myers
Analysis: Duchene proved himself as a dynamic scoring centre with the upstart Avalanche, Howard took over the starting job with the Red Wings and Tyler Myers lead his team in ice time.
Prediction: I don’t believe Matt Duchene put up big enough numbers to win this award, despite the fact that he might end up having the best career of these three. Jimmy Howard put up impressive numbers but he did it with the Red Wings, who have proved that they can put just about anyone in net and have a successful regular season. Tyler Myers lead his team in ice time, played against the other team’s best players and still managed to put up 48 points (7 less than Duchene). Look for Myers to take home the Calder.
Norris Trophy (Best Defenceman):
Finalists: Drew Doughty, Mike Green, Duncan Keith
Analysis: For the first time in a long time, the Norris Trophy finalists features three players who have never won the awards before. While Mike Green was nominated last season after a remarkable offensive season, he lost out because of his defensive play. Once again, Green is the top scoring d-man of the league. Meanwhile, Keith and Doughty played big minutes against the other team’s top players while putting up big numbers.
Prediction: This award typically goes to someone who has paid their dues. Expect this year to be no different. Mike Green didn’t win last year despite scoring 31 goals in 68 games. He put up fewer goals this year but notched more assists. The big knock against him is his defensive play, but he was a remarkable plus 39. Green will edge out Keith for his first Norris.
Vezina Trophy (Best Goaltender):
Finalists: Martin Brodeur, Ilya Bryzgalov, Ryan Miller
Analysis: All three of these netminders had excellent statistical seasons playing in front of relatively average teams. Brodeur has won four of the last six Vezina trophies while Miller and Bryzgalov are looking for their first.
Prediction: Of the three, Ryan Miller had the best goals against average and save percentage. He’s also got a great reputation and has never won the award before. All of those factors lead me to believe that he’ll be walking away with his first Vezina.
Hart Trophy (MVP):
Finalists: Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, Henrik Sedin
Analysis: Alex Ovechkin is the reigning MVP while Sidney Crosby is a previous winner. Henrik Sedin is nominated for the first time and of course came out of nowhere this year to win the scoring title. Henrik finished with 112 points while Crosby and Ovechkin were tied at 109.
Prediction: This was Ovechkin’s award to lose midway through the season, and lose it he did in my opinion. His wreckless play (including a suspension for this hit on Brian Campbell) will not endear himself to the voters, as well as not only losing the scoring title to Henrik Sedin but being caught by Sidney Crosby for second place. In my mind this will be a close race between Henrik and Crosby, with Crosby winning because of his high goal total and the fact that he put up points with relatively weak wingers. Henrik will make it close due to the fact that he performed so well while his brother was injured, but will suffer because he doesn’t have the same name value and didn’t put up as many goals as Crosby.