The NHL Awards Show is on June 18th, live from Las Vegas.
Why Vegas? is the obvious question. My guess is they are hoping all the players show up if they have the ceremonies there.
Here is the list of nominees along with some thoughts. Feel free to post your thoughts in the comments section.
The award has grown into the award given to the League's best player, not necessarily most valuable. The point is moot this season, as Alexander Ovechkin is the clear choice. Evgeni Malkin and Pavel Datsyuk are amazing players, too, but Ovie is a step above everyone. Prediction: Ovechkin is all-Hart, for the second year in a row.
This trophy has been Nicklas Lidstrom's personal mantlepiece ornament this decade. He's up for the award again this year. Boston's giant Zdeno Chara had a monstrous season, while Mike Green had one of the best offensive seasons by a defenseman in NHL history Prediction - Lidstrom's reign will come to an end this season as his regular season was just a touch quieter than the other two. Chara will narrowly edge out Green because the Bruins were so good in the regular season.
Unlike most awards, the media does not vote for the Vezina. Rather the NHL General Managers do. We have some new faces in contention this year: Boston's Tim Thomas, Minnesota's Nicklas
Backstrom and Columbus rookie Steve Mason. Prediction - Tough call, but Backstrom will not win since the Wild did not make the playoffs. I suspect Thomas will get the edge because the Bruins finished in 1st and because of his heart warming story of success.
Not surprisingly, Steve Mason is the favorite for the Calder, with Bobby Ryan and Kris Versteeg putting up good cases, too. Prediction - Hopefully Steve Mason already has his speech ready.
This award has morphed into the best two way forward really. Pavel Datsyuk is the reigning winner, and an excellent choice. Ryan Kesler and Mike Richards bring a lot of passion to the game. Prediction - Datsyuk is likely to win, but I like Philly's Mike Richards and his excellent penalty killing.
Undersized forwards Datsyuk, Zach Parise and Martin St. Louis are all up for the award. Prediction - Datsyuk gets it if only because the voters feel sorry for him for coming short on the other ballots.
Claude Julien of Boston, Todd McLellan of San Jose and Andy Murray of St. Louis all did amazing jobs this year. Prediction - I have said before that I think Andy Murray is the best coach in the game. That being said he is unlikely to win. I'll throw a dart on the board and pick first year coach McLellan in San Jose, although shouldn't the coach of the year award go to the coach of the team that wins the Stanley Cup? Oh yeah, these are regular season awards. I'd rather have the Stanley Cup, thank you very much.
Steve Sullivan is nominated for coming off of essentially 1 and 1/2 lost years due to a serious back injury to come back and help the Predators in the stretch drive. Richard Zednik is nominated after coming back with a strong season after nearly dying on the ice thanks to an errant skate blade to the throat. Only problem is he has since bolted for Russia. Chris Chelios is nominated because he's 47 years old and still employed in the NHL as a player. Only problem is he can't play any more. Prediction - I hope Sully gets it.
The following awards are already decided, thanks to production targets:
Rocket Richard Trophy - NHL's Leading Goal Scorer - Alexander Ovechkin
Art Ross Trophy - NHL's Leading Point Scorer - Evgeni Malkin
I agree that Steve Sullivan should win it, too. A lot of great stories (Zednik as well) this year, though.
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