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NHL Award Nominees Announced

In the past several days the NHL has been slowly announcing their nominees for the 2011/12 awards.  Here are the people I would have nominated if I had been a voter.  Today I want to make my comments based upon the who is nominated and who wasn’t.

Calder Trophy - Adam Henrique New Jersey Devils, Gabriel Landeskog Colorado Avalanche, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Edmonton Oilers  These are the three players I would have nominated.  I suspect that my picks are going to be in the order that the voters rank them with Landeskog winning the award and Nugent-Hopkins finishing second.

Selke Trophy - David Backes St Louis Blues, Patrice Bergeron Boston Bruins, Pavel Datsyuk Detroit Red Wings  I think that Bergeron and Backes will be one-two in the voting.  I believe Bergeron should be the winner but I wouldn’t be too surprised if it goes either way.  Datsyuk is getting a lot of his votes based on reputation.  He is a three time Selke trophy winner who hasn’t played as much on the penalty kill in recent years as most Selke nominees (though he is back over a minute a game for the first time in three years - but that still is a low total for a nominee).  Injuries limited him to 70 games this year.  I have not supported Datsyuk as a Selke nominee over the recent years because he doesn’t play in the penalty kill defensive situations and not because I cannot see his defensive skill (presumably he would have succeeded if he did play in those situations but we cannot give him credit for doing something he didn’t do).  I think Mike Fisher is a better nominee this year, but he too would be a distant third behind Backes and Bergeron.

Adams Trophy - Ken Hitchcock St Louis Blues, Paul MacLean Ottawa Senators, John Tortorella New York Rangers   The voters see this as the award for coach of the most improved team.  This removes from competition some very good coaches like Barry Trotz in Nashville, Alain Vigneault in Vancouver Dave Tippett in Phoenix or Mike Babcock in Detroit (the first two should be nominees and all four are better picks that MacLean or Tortorella).  Ken Hitchcock is both the best coach this season and the coach of the most improved team so he should have little trouble winning this award.

Masterton Trophy - Daniel Alfredsson Ottawa Senators, Joffrey Lupul Toronto Maple Leafs, Max Pacioretty Montreal Canadiens  It looks like playing in Canada helps to get a nomination this year.  In Canada there is more hockey media to spread your story which helps in an award like the Masterton Trophy.  Tomas Fleischmann and David Perron were among my nominees but they were lost in smaller US media markets.  Perron did not even get his team’s nomination, which highlights the continued problems with this award.  I think Lupul should win this award but I could see Pacioretty winning it.  The hit from Zdeno Chara last season where Pacioretty broke his back is a significant story,  It didn’t wind up keeping him out of many games (in part because he could rehab over the summer) whereas Lupul lost over a year of his career and looked far more likely to have his career end due to injury.  Further Lupul had a better season this year.  I think Alfredsson is a distant third place finisher getting some credit for a successful long career but he isn’t nearly as strong a candidate as a nominee should be.

Lady Byng Trophy - Brian Campbell Florida Panthers, Jordan Eberle Edmonton Oilers, Matt Moulson New York Islanders  I think Eriksson is a far better nominee than Moulson even though Moulson had fewer penalty minutes (6 vs. 12).  Eriksson is a far more complete player and much more valuable to his team.  Moulson has little value beyond his offensive numbers.  I would like to see Campbell win.  It is quite an accomplishment for a defenceman with his high ice time to have as few penalty minutes as he did.  I suspect Eberle might win because he was the top scoring low penalty minute player and the defenceman may be overlooked.

Norris Trophy - Zdeno Chara Boston Bruins, Erik Karlsson Ottawa Senators, Shea Weber Nashville Predators  These are the three nominees I selected.  I suspect that Weber wins it in a close race with Karlsson.  Despite that I think Zdeno Chara should win.  Chara is seen by many as not having had a spectacular year, which is more a testament to his high expectations than reality.  He has these kinds of years every year and could easily have won the Norris more than once by now.  Karlsson’s argument for the award is his offensive totals.  Weber and Chara played against tougher competition and were more dominant and noticeable when they were on the ice, but they did not score at Karlsson’s rate.  Weber is still improving from year to year and that makes him more of a winner in many voter’s eyes.  Unlike Chara he clearly outplayed his past levels.  However I think that merely shows how good a player Chara is but it may keep him from winning an award he deserves.

Vezina Trophy - Henrik Lundqvist New York Rangers, Jonathan Quick Los Angeles, Pekka Rinne Nashville Predators   I think Mike Smith should have been nominated in place of Rinne.  His problem is his strongest play came at the end of the season when voters had already made up their minds and he was overlooked.  I think Lundqvist should win this award by a significant margin with Quick a clear second place finisher.

Hart Trophy - Henrik Lundqvist New York Rangers, Evgeni Malkin Pittsburgh Penguins, Steve Stamkos Tampa Bay Lightning  I had Chara as the third nominee in place of Lundqvist.  I think he was overlooked here for the same reason he will not likely win the Norris Trophy.  Lundqvist’s being here likely shows he will win the Vezina, though both awards have different voters.  Malkin should win this award easily and he deserves it.  I think Stamkos will lose out on some votes he deserves because his team was not good enough to make playoffs and that is hardly his fault.

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You’re probably right but I hope you’re wrong about the Calder.  RNH played 12 fewer games than Henrique and 20 fewer than Landeskog and was tied for the rookie scoring lead.  And he was on a worse team.

Posted by Garth on 04/30/12 at 03:01 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

Landeskog played against much tougher competition and was one of the more valuable defensive forwards in the league.  That is why he is ahead of Nugent-Hopkins in my mind.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 04/30/12 at 04:07 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

This post was well-reasoned. I don’t agree with all of it, but I understand the reasoning behind it.

The league needs to scrap the Masterton. I kind of hate that there’s an award for overcoming the most gut-wrenching obstacle to keep playing hockey.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 04/30/12 at 04:10 PM ET

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imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

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