by PuckStopsHere on 05/03/09 at 05:19 AM ET
Over the past few days the NHL has been announcing its award nominations (there is one more award left for charitable giving - but I am going to ignore it). I will compare them to my selections and give my thoughts on who will win given the nominations.
Selke Trophy Pavel Datsyuk Detroit Red Wings, Ryan Kesler Vancouver Canucks, Mike Richards Philadelphia Flyers. I had Richards to win this award, but my other nominees were Mikko Koivu and Eric Staal. I think the writers really missed the boat by missing Koivu. I am not surprised Datsyuk is nominated and he can win, but he doesn’t play all of the key defensive situations in Detroit. This is because Mike Babcock likes to roll out all four lines and often the next line plays in a key defensive situation and not Datsyuk. I think Kesler finishes a distant third.
Masterton Trophy Chris Chelios Detroit Red Wings, Steve Sullivan Nashville Predators, Richard Zednik Florida Panthers. I had Teppo Numminen and Owen Nolan nominated here along with Sullivan. I think Numminen really should have won this award. Coming back from multiple heart surgeries sure shows dedication to the game. I knew Owen Nolan could not be a nominee because he was not announced as the Minnesota Wild selection (Kurtis Foster was), but I still think he deserves it for coming back from his injuries and two years out of the game. Chris Chelios is not a bad nominee. At age 47 there were many times he could have walked away from the game. Merely still being here shows a lot of perseverance and dedication to hockey. Steve Sullivan’s return to a valued position in Nashville after missing almost two years with a back injury is another big performance. I think Richard Zednik will win. The incident where his neck was slashed by a skate is very high profile. It is true that he could have died if he didn’t get immediate medical help. However after receiving the medical assistance, there was no reason to not expect him to return to the game. This is unlike Sullivan, Numminen, Nolan and Chelios who could all have walked away at times and nobody would have thought any less of them. To make things more interesting, Zednik has signed with the KHL for next season and could take an NHL award with him.
Lady Byng Trophy Pavel Datsyuk Detroit Red Wings, Zach Parise New Jersey Devils, Martin St Louis Tampa Bay Lightning. I had Brian Rafalski as the third nominee in place of Parise. Rafalski is a defenceman and it is harder to play a sportsmanlike penalty-free game in that position. Defence is largely ignored in Lady Byng voting. I think St Louis will end Datsyuk’s three year reign with this award because he had significantly less penalty minutes this season.
Adams Trophy Claude Julien Boston Bruins, Todd McLellan San Jose Sharks, Andy Murray St Louis Blues. I hope Murray wins. It will be a rare time when the deserving coach of the year wins what voters have made the coach of the most improved team award. I had Jacques Lemaire and Ken Hitchcock as my other nominees. They are better coaches and mean more to their teams than Julien or McLellan but their teams did not improve enough in the standings to actually get votes. It wouldn’t surprise me to see this award finish very close between all three nominees. Todd McLellan could win as a reward for finishing first in the regular season. The voting was done before the playoffs so we didn’t have the perspective of seeing San Jose lose in the first round and seeing that Boston is yet to lose a single playoff game.
Calder Trophy Steve Mason Columbus Blue Jackets, Bobby Ryan Anaheim Ducks, Kris Versteeg Chicago Blackhawks. I had Pekka Rinne in second place in this award and not too far behind Mason. Without him nominated it is clear that Mason will win the award easily. The differences between Rinne and Mason are that Mason played a few more games, Mason barely made the playoffs while Rinne barely missed them, Mason is Canadian and Rinne is Finish and Mason made his run earlier in the season allowing more time for people to write Mason for Calder stories. Apparently that is the difference between winning the award and not getting nominated at all.
Norris Trophy Zdeno Chara Boston Bruins, Mike Green Washington Capitals, Nicklas Lidstrom Detroit Red Wings. I had Duncan Keith in place of Chara. I think Chara’s nomination comes because of Boston’s improvement in the standings and because he is a proven top defenceman with other Norris nominations, making voters more ready to accept him. I don’t believe he was quite as good as last year where he finished third in the Norris voting. He was the Bruins player (with significant games played) who had the highest goals against while on the ice. That is partly explained by playing a tough level of competition, but that isn’t a Norris candidate’s achievement is it? That said, I think Chara could win the award if Mike Green doesn’t.
Vezina Trophy Niklas Backstrom Minnesota Wild, Steve Mason Columbus Blue Jackets, Tim Thomas Boston Bruins. I would be very surprised if Thomas does not win this award. I had Tomas Vokoun as a nominee in place of Mason, as Mason cooled off down the stretch after a really hot start - where he could have won the award. Vokoun is a very good goalie who has been overlooked for years in Nashville and in Florida. He has not been able to get enough wins to show up on the voter’s radar despite some very good seasons. Backstrom is a deserving nominee.
Hart Trophy Pavel Datsyuk Detroit Red Wings, Evgeni Malkin Pittsburgh Penguins, Alexander Ovechkin Washington Capitals. There is one award where I picked the same three nominees as the NHL writers did. I think this is because it was an easy year to pick the MVP. The best goalie (Tim Thomas) played only 54 games which keeps him out of the race. The best defenceman (Mike Green) did not always play against the toughest competition defensively (though he played well defensively against the competition he had). That means that one need only look at the scoring race to pick nominees. That is good because this is something the writers often do. The only trick was picking Pavel Datsyuk instead of Sidney Crosby despite the fact Crosby had six more points than Datsyuk. Given Datsyuk’s defensive capabilities they figured it out. I would be very surprised if Ovechkin does not win this award.
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