Monday, June 3, 2013

Previewing the NHL Awards

Continuing with broadening out of the Caps zone for a while, here are my predictions for the NHL Award winners later this month.

A few posts ago, I talked about why Alex Ovechkin should win the Hart trophy for MVP. Here are the rest of the awards.

Daniel Alfredsson (Ottawa Senators)
Dustin Brown (Los Angeles Kings)
Jonathan Toews (Chicago Blackhawks)
To be honest, Brown really should not even be in this discussion. He is not even the biggest leader on his team (Drew Doughty, Jonathan Quick, and Anze Kopitar come to mind). He is a great man of charity, but that does not mean he is a great leader. This should come down to Alfie and Toews. I would pick Daniel Alfredsson. Even though he is 40 years old now, he led a Senators squad decimated by injury and was their leader both on and off the ice. Toews was great too, but Alfie did more.

Bruce Boudreau (Anaheim Ducks)
Paul MacLean (Ottawa Senators)
Joel Queneville (Chicago Blackhawks)
This should come down to two people: Boudreau and MacLean. Queneville led the Blackhawks to an incredible 24 game point streak to start the season, but the other two led their teams to the playoffs despite terrible odds. I would choose Paul MacLean. Boudreau led the team from last year's basement to the Pacific Division championship. Along with that, MacLean, like Caps coach Adam Oates, only got a week of training camp to get to know them, and then led the Sens through the injuries. MacLean should be the choice for this.

Patrick Kane (Chicago Blackhawks)
Matt Moulson (New York Islanders)
Martin St. Louis (Tampa Bay Lightning)
This is really tough. All of these guys are known for their great sportsmanship. I'm going to go out on a limb here and choose Matt Moulson. He had only two penalties and four penalty minutes the entire season, the least for anyone who played a full season. On top of that, he was a finalist last year. This is a tough call, but I would vote for Moulson.

Patrice Bergeron (Boston Bruins)
Pavel Datsyuk (Detroit Red Wings)
Jonathan Toews (Chicago Blackhawks)
This is also hard to decide. All three of these guys had outstanding season offensively and defensively. I would put this between Bergeron and Toews, if only because Datsyuk has already won three of these. I would choose Patrice Bergeron. He had more than 2 minutes of short-handed ice time per game for one of the best penalty-killing squads in the league. I feel kind of bad for Toews (I've picked against him twice now), but I would cast my vote for Bergeron.

Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins)
Josh Harding (Minnesota Wild)
Adam McQuaid (Boston Bruins)
This calls for a sentimental vote, in which case this is between Harding and McQuaid. Crosby battled back from injuries, but that is nothing compared to fighting through multiple sclerosis or Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. I would choose Josh Harding. The illness left him without energy and caused him blurred vision, making it extremely hard to play at all, let alone play goaltender. Yet, he had a fantastic series against the President's Trophy winner Chicago Blackhawks. McQuaid displayed great perseverance as well, but for me, Harding is the man.

Marc Bergevin (Montreal Canadiens)
Bob Murray (Anaheim Ducks)
Ray Shero (Pittsburgh Penguins)
GM of the year is always tough to choose. Bergevin and Murray brought teams that were in the basement last year to division championships this year, while Shero helped build the Miami Heat of the NHL. I would choose Marc Bergevin. I don't think buying the Easter Conference All-Star Team (minus Alex Ovechkin) is worth GM of the year. Murray and Bergevin both did similar things this year, but Bergevin's coach had less time to work with the team than Murray's. Bergevin would be my choice for this award.

Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins)
Alex Ovechkin (Washington Capitals)
Martin St. Louis (Tampa Bay Lightning)
I have to be fair... I have to be fair...
There really should not be any argument here. Unfortunately, this has to go to Sidney Crosby. When you can finish third in points despite missing a quarter of the season, you deserve to win this award. Ovechkin scored a lot of goals and did fantastic the second half of the season, while St. Louis won the Art Ross for most points, but Crosby has to be the choice here.

Sergei Bobrovsky (Columbus Blue Jackets)
Henrik Lundqvist (New York Rangers)
Anti Niemi (San Jose Sharks)
This would be hard to decide save for one factor; this is only for the regular season. Because of this, Sergei Bobrovsky is the far and away choice for this. Lundqvist was good as usual, especially in the playoffs (as we Caps fans would know), as was Niemi. But the Jackets just missed the playoffs, and wouldn't have even been in that situation had it not been for Bob. He was stellar, especially in the stretch run, and would probably be in the Hart conversation had the Jackets made the playoffs. This is the award I am most certain about the outcome.

Kris Letang (Pittsburgh Penguins)
P.K. Subban (Montreal Canadiens)
Ryan Suter (Minnesota Wild)
This is tough to call, if only because I didn't watch them that closely (I mean seriously, who follows defensemen who are not on their favorite or fantasy teams?). I would choose Ryan Suter because he skated incredible minutes. What he did in Game 1 of the playoff series is stuck in my head. In a game that lasted about 76 minutes, he skated over 41 minutes. He played more than half of the game, and continued skating big minutes, including over 32 minutes in a 62 minute Game 3. Albeit playoffs are not supposed to be considered for this, he was one of the best defensive defensemen this year, and also contributed offensively with 32 points in the regular season. Subban and Letang did well, but Suter is my guy.

Brendan Gallagher (Montreal Canadiens)
Jonathan Huberdeau (Florida Panthers)
Brandon Saad (Chicago Blackhawks)
How can you not like Jonathan Huberdeau? Despite playing for the worst team in the NHL, he tied for the league lead in points among rookies with 31 (Nail Yakupov of Edmonton was the other) and was third in goals and assists. If Yakupov was nominated, this would be harder to decide, and I would probably go with him. Gallagher and Saad both had good years, but Hoobey-dooby-doo deserves this award.

These are my choices. Over the next week, I'll be moving back towards the Caps, but for now, let's just enjoy the Penguins getting destroyed by the Bruins.

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