2012 NHL Awards Predictions
It’s time for the NHL’s annual awards presentation. Here are our predictions for who will be taking home the hardware…
Hart Trophy (League MVP)
Nominees: Henrik Lundqvist, Goaltender, New York Rangers; Evgeni Malkin, Center, Pittsburgh Penguins; Steven Stamkos, Center, Tampa Bay Lightning
Winner: Evgeni Malkin, Center, Pittsburgh Penguins
The NHL’s first 50-goal, 50-assist man since Alex Ovechkin in 2008, this trophy is all but assured for Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin, who lead his team in goals, points, and assists, while leading the NHL in total points.
Vezina Trophy (Top Goaltender)
Nominees: Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers; Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings; Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators
Winner: Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings
He already won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP for the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings, and should also take home the Vezina as the NHL’s top goaltender. What gives him the edge over Henrik Lundqvist and Pekka Rinne is that Quick got his team to the playoff with pretty much no offensive help; the Kings were the 29th ranked offense during the regular season.
Norris Trophy (Top Defenseman)
Nominees: Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins; Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators; Shea Weber, Nashville Predators
Winner: Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators
Karlsson’s offensive season was nothing short of incredible. As a defenseman, he ranked 10th in the NHL in total points scored, and his assist total (58) was good for 3rd in the entire league, which is practically unheard of for a blueliner. His defensive game still isn’t perfect, but he did finish with a healthy +16 rating.
Calder Trophy (Rookie of the Year)
Nominees: Adam Henrique, Center, New Jersey Devils; Gabriel Landeskog, Left Wing, Colorado Avalanche; Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Center, Edmonton Oilers
Winner: Gabriel Landeskog, Left Wing, Colorado Avalanche
Landeskog led all rookies in points (52), and was second amongst all first-year players with a +20 rating. He led his own team, the Colorado Avalanche, in plus/minus rating (+20) and goals (22), while tying for the team lead in game-winning goals with 5. He was used extensively on both the Colorado power-play and penalty-killing units, as he showed ability on both the forecheck and backcheck that was more befitting of a seasoned veteran than a 19-year-old rookie. Despite his inexperience and youth, Gabriel Landeskog is a complete player, and was the best rookie in the NHL this past season.
Selke Trophy (Best Defensive Forward)
Nominees: David Backes, Center, St. Louis Blues; Patrice Bergeron, Center, Boston Bruins; Pavel Datsyuk, Center, Detroit Red Wings
Winner: Patrice Bergeron, Center, Boston Bruins
Bergeron embodied the spirit of this award, notching 64 points from his center position while maintaining his defensive responsibilities at a very high level. Bergeron led the NHL with a ridiculous +36 rating. Datsyuk wasn’t far behind, with 67 points and a +21 rating, but this award undoubtedly belongs to Patrice Bergeron this year.
Lady Byng Trophy (Skill and Gentlemanly Play)
Nominees: Brian Campbell, Defenseman, Florida Panthers; Jordan Eberle, Center, Edmonton Oilers; Matt Moulson, Left Wing, New York Islanders;
Winner: Jordan Eberle, Center, Edmonton Oilers
It’s pretty impressive for a defenseman like Brian Campbell to be nominated for a trophy that essentially boils down to high point totals and low penalty minutes, but this trophy should go to Jordan Eberle of the Edmonton Oilers. He averaged nearly a point per game (76 points in 78 games) while taking only five minor penalties. Moulson (69 points, three minors) and Campbell (53 points, three minors) both had good numbers as well, but Eberle had the best season of the three, and should take home the Lady Byng.
Jack Adams Award (Top Coach)
Nominees: Ken Hitchcock, St. Louis Blues; Paul MacLean, Ottawa Senators; John Tortorella, New York Rangers
Winner: Ken Hitchcock, St. Louis Blues
Hitchcock should be an absolute shoo-in for this award. He took over a St. Louis Blues team that was essentially dead in the water in early November, with only 12 points in the standings after a month of NHL play. Hitchcock whipped the team into shape, coaching them into a team that earned 97 points under his stewardship, while finishing as the second seed in the Western Conference. The Blues also finished as the team that allowed the fewest goals in the entire NHL.
Mark Messier Leadership Award (Leadership on and off the ice)
Nominees: Dustin Brown, Center, Los Angeles Kings; Ryan Callahan, Right Wing, New York Rangers; Shane Doan, Left Wing, Phoenix Coyotes
Winner: Ryan Callahan, Right Wing, New York Rangers
All are deserving candidates, but since Messier himself picks the winner, it’ll be hard to ignore the potential for bias towards the captain of the Rangers, whom Messier captained to a Stanley Cup championship 18 years ago.