Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Awards Predictions

Alright, the stage is set, Nickelback is practicing their terrible music and the stars are gathering in Sin City.  Wednesday night Las Vegas will play host to NHL award show, a night of Canada's a-list celebrities presenting awards to their heroes.  For tonight's article I bring to you my predictions of who will walk away with some hardware.

First the three trophies that are decided by on ice play not a voting committee.  The Maurice
Rocket Richards trophy, an award neither Brad Richards nor Mike Richards have won, is the trophy given to the player that scores the most goals during the season.  This years winner, with a total of sixty goals is Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos.  The Art Ross trophy, is given to the player that scores the most points during the season, often times the guy who scored the most goals. This year the trophy will be presented to Penguins Center Evgeni Malkin.  Malkin racked up 109 points, coincidentally, he also won the trophy in '09.  Malkin joins Lemieux and Jagr as the only Penguins to win the Art Ross multiple times.  The William M. Jennings trophy is given to the goaltender(s) of the team that allowed the fewest goals. The goalie must play a minimum of twenty-five games to be eligible  for the award.  The winners this year are Brian Elliot and Jaroslav Halak of the St. Louis Blues. The tandem gave up a total of 165 goals through the first eighty-two games.

General manager of the year is the newest award and the first we will talk about.  This years finalist include: Doug Armstrong of the St. Louis Blues, David Poile of the Nashville Predators, and Dale Tallon of the Florida Panthers.  Both Armstrong and Tallon took teams that missed the playoffs and turned them into contenders this year.  After a rough start, Armstrong's team led the league for the majority of the season. Armstrong's biggest move had to be relieving Davis Payne of the head coaching job to bring in Ken Hitchcock.  Tallon completely re-worked Florida's roster this summer. He started by signing half of the guys that played for him in Chicago, then went on to add quality players like Marcel Goc and Tomas Fleischmann. Poile made some gutsy moves over the last offseason, getting rid of veterans like Steve Sullivan and J.P Dumont. Coming into the season Poile had the youngest roster, yet through deadline deals and the acquisition of prodigal son Alex Radulov, the Predators were favorites for the cup.
My Winner: Doug Armstrong, from out of the playoffs to contending for the president's trophy is just to much to ignore.

The NHL Foundation Award is awarded to the player that applies the core values of hockey- commitment, perseverance, and teamwork- to enrich the lives of people in his community. The three candidates this year are: Mike Fisher of the Nashville Predators, John-Michael Liles of the Toronto Maple Leafs, and Matt Moulson of the New York Islanders.  It's hard to talk about a players contribution to a community when you do not live in the community, so excuse this prediction for it is completely biased.
My Winner: Mike Fisher, well he is married to Carrie Underwood, meaning he has double to money to work.  Plus it is hard to pick against a guy who had a faith based book published this year.

The Bridgestone Messier Leadership award is presented to player who has the most sponsorships, well actually it is the player who exemplifies great leadership to his team on and off the ice during the regular season.  The candidates this year are: Dustin Brown of the L.A. Kings, Ryan Callahan of the New York Rangers, and Shane Doan of the Pheonix Coyotes.  Although this is a regular season award the past winners have usually been the captain of the cup winning team.  All three candidates are the captains of their team.  Brown took a star filled team that could not click and helped them find a way into the playoffs. The argument against Brown, the team looked to have turned around when Jeff Carter arrived, not because he called a team meeting.  Ryan Callahan helped the Rangers to win the division and compete for the presidents trophy.  Was this Callahan's leadership or the offseason pick up of Brad Richards, we may never know. Shane Doan led the Coyotes all the way to the conference finals while wondering where the team would play next year.
My Winner: Shane Doan, it is too good of a story, and the NHL loves a good story.

The Bill Masterson Memorial Trophy is given by the Hockey writers to the player that they feel shows the most perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey. This years finalist are: Daniel Alfredsson of the Ottawa Senators, Joffreu Lupul of he Toronto Maple Leafs, and Max Pacioretty of the Montreal Canadiens.  All three players had about sixty points, but it is clear who wins this one.
My Winner: Max Pacioretty, the guy suffered a broken back last year, and never tried to get revenge on Chara for it.

The Jack Adams award is given to the league's top coach. Candidates include: Ken Hitchcock of the St. Louis Blues, Paul Maclean of the Ottawa Senators, and John Tortorella of the New York Rangers. All three men led their teams to improved records and the playoffs. Paul Maclean has Norris candidate and Tortorella's team added Brad Richards to a team that was already in the playoffs.
My Winner: Ken Hitchcock, picked up a team in a tail spin and turned them into president's trophy contender.

The Frank J. Selke award is awarded to the forward that most excels in defense.  This years candidates are: David Backes of the St. Louis Blues, Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins, and Pavel Datsyuk of the Detroit Redwings. David Backes led finalist with seventy-two blocked shots and 226 hits.  Bergeron won fifty-nine percent of the faceoffs he took and had a plus-36 rating. Datsyuk is the perennial candidate who pulled in ninety-seven take aways while only getting fourteen penalty minutes this season.
My Winner: Pavel Datsyuk. of the three finalist, if he isn't first he is second in all categories, not to mention the league love the Red Wings.

The Lady Byng Memorial trophy is given to the leagues best sportsman. The finalist this year include: Brian Campbell of the Florida Panthers, Jordan Eberle of the Edmonton Oilers, and Matt Moulson of the New York Islanders.  This award is also selected by the writers association.
My Winner: Matt Moulson, you can't be a finalist in both this and the foundation award with out winning one.

The Calder Memorial trophy is the NHL's rookie of the year award.  This years had a great class: Adam Henrique of the New Jersey Devils, Gabriel Landeskog of the Colorado Avalanche, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Edmonton Oilers.  All three players had fifty-one or fifty-two points, however Nugent-Hopkins did it in just sixty-two games, while Henrique took seventy-two and Landeskog had a full eighty-two.  Landeskog and Henrique have also been praised for their outstanding defensive play. This is easily one of the toughest categories to pick.
My Winner: Adam Henrique, he is the only finalist to make the playoffs, and he is seems the most well rounded.

The James Norris Memorial trophy goes to the leagues best defender. This years candidates are: Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins, Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators, and Shea Weber of the Nashville Predators. Weber and Chara, who were finalist for the award last year, put up similar numbers to each other.  Each had just over fifty points, Weber having more goals, Chara having more assists. Karlsson had a monstrous year registering seventy eight points, a total most forwards can't get.  Point totals usually lead voters, but in Karlsson's case, it won't help.  Karlsson took more starts in the offensive zone than the defensive and didn't play on the penalty kill this year.
My Winner: Shea Weber, because he is a defenseman who plays defense.

The Vezina Trophy is given to the years top goalie.  The three finalist are: Henrik Lundqvist of the New York   Rangers, Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators, and Jonathon Quick of the LA Kings. It is important to remember that post season does not count in the voting for these awards.  Having said that, Quick led the league in goals against average with an astounding 1.95 goals for every three periods. Lundqvist had the best save percentage at .930.  Pekka Rinne won a total of forty-three games this year, more than any other goalie. Lundqvist and Quick have nearly identical numbers, and both helped their teams to the playoffs.  For that reason, the two will probably split the first place votes, which may allow Pekka Rinne to steal this award.
My Winner: Henrik Lundqvist, New York has more media than anyone else.
The Ted Lindsay Award is the MVP if the players could vote on it. The Hart Memorial trophy is the MVP award for the league. The candidates for both awards this year are: Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers, Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins, and Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Lundqvist had a career year and made the Rangers contenders for the president's trophy. Malkin led the league in points, a feet made more impressive by the fact that Sidney Crosby did not play the first sixty games. Stamkos led the league in goals and is the only reason the Lightning even sniffed the playoffs.
My Winner for the Lindsay: Steven Stamkos, the kid can flat out play, and other players know that.
My Winner for the Hart: Evgeni Malkin, because he led the Penguins during their dark times.

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