Contrary to what the calendar says, we are entering Award Season, and tonight the stars of the NHL (and Corey Perry, too) gather in Las Vegas as the NHL hands out some hardware to players that excelled this season.
We're just over a week since the Boston Bruins borrowed the Stanley Cup from the Red Wings with their 7-game victory over the Vancouver Canucks. It seems like it will be forever before we see meaningful hockey again, but the offseason is a busy time, and the NHL Awards kick things off.
We'll all be tuning in tonight to see who is named the NHL's most valuable player, whether Nicklas Lidstrom gets closer to Bobby Orr for most Norris Trophies in NHL history, and for the comedic brilliance of Jay Mohr (apparently Carrot Top booked his annual roid rage for this evening).
We've got you covered here at WIIM, and we're going to tell you the nominees, who will win, and who should win. Follow the jump as we glitz it up and prepare to hand out some tinfoil trophies.
Yesterday we gave you our picks for awards the Red Wing players should win. While we've got a rooting interest in some of the races tonight, some of the trophies are more about who we don't want to win, rather than who we're cheering for. Without further ado, let's give you an idea on what to expect.
Frank J Selke Trophy:
Nominees: Pavel Datsyuk (DET), Ryan Kesler (VAN), Jonathan Toews (CHI)
Who Will Win: Kesler
Who Should Win: Kesler, but only because Datsyuk was injured. This award is supposed to be about the best defensive forward, but in practice it seems to be given to the best "two-way" forward. It's interesting to note the stats that are used to compare these players. Toews was 2nd in the NHL in takeaways with 93, but Datsyuk finished 11th with 71 despite missing 26 games. I'm no math genius, but I know that when looking at it as an average, Datsyuk likely would have finished with 100 once again. Kesler was 17th with 65, he had a +24, and played over 2:30 a game shorthanded. What will hurt Datsyuk is the fact he missed the games he did and that he played less than a minute on the PK. Plus, 40 goals looks good for a defensive guy, and that will factor in to the decision.
Lady Byng Trophy
Nominees: Loui Eriksson (DAL), Nicklas Lidstrom (DET), Martin St. Louis (TB)
Who Will Win: Eriksson
Who Should Win: Lidstrom. He plays 23 minutes a night against the best players in the NHL, he plays a "gentlemanly" type of game where he relies on positioning and good stick work, and he only took 10 minor penalties all year. Keep in mind that the voting was done before the postseason ended and there was no guarantee that Lidstrom was coming back, so the voters may have been swayed to his side. St. Louis won it last year, and Eriksson is not known enough, so Nick will get it so that the entire viewing audience doesn't go to the bathroom since it's a meaningless award anyway.
Calder Memorial Trophy:
Nominees: Logan Couture (SJ), Jeff Skinner (CAR), Michael Grabner (NYI)
Who Will Win: Couture
Who Should Win: Skinner. Couture's inclusion as a rookie is a joke, in that he's a rookie only by the skin of his teeth. Since he only played 25 games in 2009-10 (regular season games), he qualified as a rookie this year, which is crap because playing over 25% of an NHL season should remove one from the discussion of Rookie of the Year. However, regardless of that, Skinner was a better rookie anyway. He scored 1 less goal, had 8 more assists, and was a +3, all on a team that didn't have anywhere near the talent Couture was able to play with. Throw in the fact that Skinner was only 18 for the entire regular season, and I think he deserves it over the Tweeter. Grabner was very good, but he plays on a bad team and was overshadowed all year by the other 2.
Nominees: Tim Thomas (BOS), Roberto Luongo (VAN), Pekka Rinne (NSH)
Who Will Win: Thomas
Who Should Win: Thomas. This one is probably going to be the easiest one to predict all night. Thomas led the league in GAA, set the NHL record for SV%, and won 35 games on a team where the leading scorer had 62 points. He was better than Luongo in the regular season and in the playoffs (even though that doesn't factor in the voting), and will hold off Rinne because of his spectacular numbers. Luongo will once again settle for being second-best to Thomas, although rumour is that Luongo remarked that winning this Trophy would normally be easy for him.
Nominees: Nicklas Lidstrom (DET), Zdeno Chara (BOS), Shea Weber (NSH)
Who Will Win: Lidstrom
Who Should Win: Lidstrom. Duh. Oh, you still want me to break this down? Fine. Lidstrom outscored the other 2 nominees, which shouldn't factor in that much but does anyway. Weber has the benefit of playing with a great defense partner in Ryan Suter, and Chara played with a decent guy in Dennis Seidenberg, while Lidstrom played some games alone, which was preferable to him pairing with Jonathan Ericsson. He only played 8 seconds less than Chara on the PK/G, showing he was used in all situations and not protected (although none of them were). None of them finished in the top 30 in blocked shots. The only reason that he won't win is if the myopic voters put too much emphasis on Lidstrom's -2. Again, his legacy might be a factor in this race, and I fully expect Lids to move within one of Bobby Orr with his 7th Norris Trophy.
Jack Adams Award
Nominees: Alain Vigneault (VAN), Dan Bylsma (PIT), Barry Trotz (NSH)
Who Will Win: Trotz
Who Should Win: Bylsma. They should rename this award to the "Coach that takes a crappy and unexpected team far in the regular season". That would be Trotz, who managed to lead the Predators to another playoff berth despite having to rely on Martin Erat as a primary source of offense. Yes, he has Weber, Suter and Rinne, but that's a thin team talent-wise that Trotz is able to get every ounce of skill out of year after year. However, I give Bylsma a lot of credit for keeping the Penguins in the thick of the Eastern Conference race despite missing Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin for about half of the season. They were also missing Jordan Staal, Brooks Orpik, and Chris Kunitz. However, Bylsma is eliminated from the race simply because he continued to allow Matt Cooke to see ice time despite his obvious douchebaginess. Vigneault had a stacked team complete with Hart, Selke and Vezina candidates and led them to a President's Trophy, and if he does win, I will begin my campaign to have Babcock retroactively win the 2008 Adams that he deserved.
Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy:
Nominees: Ray Emery (ANA), Daymond Langkow (CAL), Ian Laperriere (PHI)
Who Will Win: Emery
Who Should Win: Emery. This is always a tough one to predict because you have to figure out who came back from the biggest setback. Last year, there were two players who went through the unimaginable tragedy of losing a child, yet somehow had good seasons. Thankfully none of this year's nominees had to endure that kind of heartbreak, as the three of them were trying to bounce back after injury-plagued seasons. I think Emery gets it after his banishment to Russia and hip injuries, as he came back and was a big reason why the Ducks made the playoffs after Jonas Hiller got injured. He also had to play for the Ducks, so that should earn him some "dedication" points since no one in their right mind would do that voluntarily.
Hart Memorial Trophy
Nominees: Daniel Sedin (VAN), Corey Perry (ANA), Martin St. Louis (TB)
Who Will Win: Sedin
Who Should Win: Sedin. Daniel will pick up the same trophy that his brother Henrik won last year, only because the only thing that Perry should win is a "David Wooderson Look-a-like" Award. Seriously, the guy scored 50 goals, but still got his ass beat by Pavel Datsyuk. This is more about me not wanting Perry to win, because that would send a message that kicking puppies and spitting in the face of babies (things I'm certain Perry does in his spare time) pays off, and that's a terrible thing to teach the children of North America. Let's not forget that Daniel was the only player to crack the 100 point mark, he scored 41 goals himself, and helped form the best 1-2 combination of twins since the Governator saved Danny Devito from thugs in California.
There's a few others. Steve Yzerman should be a shoo-in for the newly formed Executive of the Year Award, taking a Lightning team to the Conference Finals a year after missing the playoffs. I have a gut feeling that Daniel Sedin is going to take home the Art Ross, but I'm hoping there's still a chance that Perry finishes behind anyone else in the Rocket Richard race. Unfortunately, since it's only raining water and not cats and dogs as I type this, I'm not optimistic that's going to happen.