The NHL’s best players walk the red carpet at The Palms in Las Vegas on Wednesday when the league holds its annual awards show. The Canadian Press takes a shot at handicapping the winners (all awards decided by a vote of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association unless otherwise noted):
Hart Trophy (most valuable player to his team):With no disrespect to Canucks forward Henrik Sedin and his magnificent season, this award should be headed to Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby’s trophy case because of its criteria—the player most valuable to his team. The Penguins received very little secondary scoring this season as evidenced by the fact Crosby had 59 more points than Sergei Gonchar, the team’s third-leading scorer. That should be enough to push him ahead of Sedin and Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin.
Who will win: Sedin.
Who should win: Crosby.
Ted Lindsay Award (outstanding player as voted by his peers):Same three finalists as the Hart. The players gave the former Lester B. Pearson Award to Ovechkin the past two years but will likely hand it to Sedin, who outscored everyone this season. His 112 points in the tough Western Conference was an impressive feat. No individual player was better than the soft-spoken Swede in 2009-10.
Who will win: Sedin.
Who should win: Sedin.
Vezina Trophy (outstanding goaltender):The NHL’s 30 general managers vote on this award and tend to favour goalies who have consistently been at the top—something that could work in favour of New Jersey’s Martin Brodeur, a four-time winner. But as good as the veteran was, Ryan Miller deserves his first Vezina after leading the Buffalo Sabres to a Northeast Division title and ranking near the top of all major goaltending categories. The lanky American was just a little bit better than Brodeur and Phoenix Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov this year.
Who will win: Brodeur.
Who should win: Miller.
Norris Trophy (outstanding all-around defenceman):Even though Washington’s Mike Green led all defencemen in scoring for the second straight season, it was Chicago’s Duncan Keith who established himself as the game’s best at the position. He’s drawn comparisons to Scott Niedermayer because of his smooth skating stride and ability to contribute offensively without sacrificing anything in the defensive end. It’s a good year for him to win it, too—20-year-old Drew Doughty of the Los Angeles Kings, the third nominee, will likely be in the mix for the trophy for the next decade or so.
Who will win: Green.
Who should win: Keith.
Calder Trophy (outstanding rookie):Tyler Myers didn’t enter the NHL with very much hype but it didn’t take long for him to win over fans. At 19, the hulking defenceman led the Buffalo Sabres in ice time and finished third overall in the rookie scoring race behind Colorado’s Matt Duchene and John Tavares of the New York Islanders. Even though he made the biggest impact among the freshman class, his position could work against him—only one defenceman has won the Calder in the last 12 years. We still gave him the nod over Duchene and Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard.
Who will win: Duchene.
Who should win: Myers.
Jack Adams (outstanding coach):This should be a no-brainer for the NHL Broadcasters Association, who vote on the award. Joe Sacco worked wonders in Colorado and Barry Trotz had another surprising season in Nashville, but no one did more to turn around a team than Dave Tippett in Phoenix. He was given the Coyotes job just days before the start of the season and helped lead a lunchbucket squad to the fourth best record in the entire NHL. As a result, Phoenix returned to the playoffs for the first time in eight years.
Who will win: Tippett.
Who should win: Tippett.
Selke Trophy (top defensive forward):This is one of the tougher awards to judge because there are a variety of different statistics that can be used to judge a forward’s defensive contributions. Case in point—we gave our top vote to Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews and he wasn’t even among the three finalists. Instead, Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk goes for his third straight Selke Trophy against Canucks centre Ryan Kesler, nominated for a second straight year, and Jordan Staal of the Pittsburgh Penguins. As good as those guys are, there is no one we’d rather have on the ice than Toews to win a big faceoff, kill a penalty or shut down another team’s top player.
Who will win: Datsyuk.
Who should win: Kesler.
Lady Byng (most gentlemanly player):This trophy could be renamed for Datsyuk since he’s won it the past four years—and could very well make it five in a row. But we believe it’s time to recognize classy Tampa Bay Lightning forward Martin St. Louis, who finished sixth in league scoring this season with 94 points while only being assessed 12 penalty minutes. That’s more points and fewer penalty minutes than Datsyuk and Brad Richards of the Dallas Stars.
Who will win: Datsyuk.
Who should win: St. Louis.