The 2012 NHL Awards are less than a week away and I think it’s about time I make my predictions for who will win what. The awards that will be presented on Wednesday June 20th are the Hart Trophy, the Vezina Trophy, James Norris Memorial Trophy, Calder Memorial Trophy, the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, the Frank J. Selke Trophy, the Jack Adams Award, the Bill Masterson Memorial Trophy, the Ted Lindsay Award, the Bridgestone Messier Leadership Award, the NHL Foundation Award and finally, the GM of the Year Award. I always like to make my picks on who should win the award and I’d like to share them with you.
GM of the Year Award:
This is just the second year that this award has been given out to the league’s General Manager of the Year. Last season, it went to the Vancouver Canucks’ GM Mike Gillis. Anaheim Ducks GM Bob Murray actually finished second in the voting last season. The candidates this season are GM Doug Armstrong from the St. Louis Blues, GM David Poile from the Nashville Predators and GM Dale Tallon from the Florida Panthers. My pick for this award is Dale Tallon from the Florida Panthers. The job that he did to turn this franchise around this past season was pretty remarkable. He added so many players that contributed to the Panthers having probably their second best season in franchise history, as well as a Southeast Division Championship.
My Pick: Dale Tallon, Florida Panthers
NHL Foundation Award:
The NHL Foundation Award is given out yearly to the player “who applies the core values of (ice) hockey—commitment, perseverance and teamwork—to enrich the lives of people in his community”. This trophy is basically the same thing as the King Clancy Memorial Trophy. This year’s candidates are Mike Fisher of the Nashville Predators, John-Michael Liles of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Matt Moulson of the New York Islanders. If it was possible, I would want all three of them to win because they are among the best at contributing to their local communities. However, I do have to make a pick and I choose Matt Moulson. I picked him because I did a quick scan of what each player has done to deserve this award and it looked like Moulson had more paragraphs than the others, so I choose him.
My Pick: Matt Moulson, New York Islanders
Bridgestone Messier Leadership Award:
This award has been given out since 2006-2007, ultimately chosen by Mark Messier himself. As you would take from the title, the Messier Leadership Award is given out ”to the player who exemplifies great leadership qualities to his team, on and off the ice during the regular season.” The candidates this season are Dustin Brown of the Los Angeles Kings, Ryan Callahan of the New York Rangers and Shane Doan of the Phoenix Coyotes. I’ve always been a fan of Shane Doan. The way he played and his great professional attitude. So, I would like to see Shane Doan win. Also, the previous winners always seem to be players that have been around the league for a long time, such as Chris Chelios, 2006-2007, Mats Sundin, 2007-2008, and Jarome Iginla, 2008-2009.
My Pick: Shane Doan, Phoenix Coyotes
Ted Lindsay Award:
Formerly known as the Lester B. Pearson Award, the Lindsay Award is presented every year to the “most outstanding player” in the NHL. Many of the best players in the history of the league have won this award and many of them have won the Hart Trophy at the same time as winning this award. This year’s candidates are Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers, Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning. It really pains me to say this but I think the most deserving player is Evgeni Malkin. He really put up some insane numbers this season, even though at the end of the Penguins playoff series against the Flyers, Malkin among others really showed some of the worse sportsmanship I’ve ever seen out of professionals. But, this isn’t an award on sportsmanship.
My Pick: Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins
Bill Masterson Trophy:
The Masterson Trophy is awarded annually to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. Each team is awarded a nomination before it is narrowed down to three finalists and the Anaheim Ducks nominee was goaltender Jonas Hiller. I actually think that Hiller didn’t get as good of a look as he should have. He suffered through vertigo last season and got off to such a terrible start, but as the season went along, Hiller improved and was arguably the hottest goalie in the league at some point. He went on to play in a league-high 73 games and in the end had a pretty good season for a goalie who got off to such a bad start. However, the three finalists are Daniel Alfredsson (hissssss) of the Ottawa Senators, Joffrey Lupul of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Max Pacioretty of the Montreal Canadiens. It seems many people expect Pacioretty to win the Masterson after he suffered a terrible injury after a check by Zdeno Chara and that’s who I pick.
My Pick: Max Pacioretty, Montreal Canadiens
Jack Adams Award:
The Jack Adams Award is given out every year to the NHL coach judged to have contributed the most to his team. The best coaches of all-time have all been able to say they have won this award. This year’s candidates are Ken Hitchcock of the St. Louis Blues, Paul McLean of the Ottawa Senators and John Tortorella of the New York Rangers. To me, this is not even close. Ken Hitchcock deserves this award more than the other coaches. What St. Louis achieved with Hitchcock as the head coach after the start they had is legendary. Their record under Hitchcock is astronomical and in my opinion, there’s no competition.
My Pick: Ken Hitchcock, St. Louis Blues
Frank J. Selke Trophy:
The Selke Trophy is awarded every year to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspect of the game. This should probably be renamed the Pavel Datsyuk Trophy, but for now, it remains the Frank J. Selke Trophy. The candidates are David Backes of the St. Louis Blues, Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins and of course, Pavel Datsyuk of the Detroit Red Wings. Datsyuk has been the best defensive forward in the league for a long time. He still is one of the best. However, David Backes has emerged in the last few years to join Datsyuk as a couple of the best defensive forwards around. So, my pick goes to Patrice Bergeron. He really has excelled the last two seasons in the defensive zone and especially in the face off circle. Bergeron should be considered a favorite as he was the league leader in plus/minus.
My Pick: Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins
Lady Byng Memorial Trophy:
The Lady Byng Memorial Trophy is awarded yearly to the player judged to have exhibited the best sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability. This is another trophy that could be called the Pavel Datsyuk Trophy as he has won this multiple times. The candidates this year are Brian Campbell of the Florida Panthers, Jordan Eberle of the Edmonton Oilers and Matt Moulson of the New York Islanders. All three players are some of the least penalized players in the entire league. My pick goes to Jordan Eberle mainly because he exemplifies everything that this trophy requires at such an incredible age of only 22. He is already one of the best scorers in the NHL.
My Pick: Jordan Eberle, Edmonton Oilers
Calder Memorial Trophy:
This trophy is given out every year to the player who is voted the most proficient player in his first year of competition. Fun fact, the oldest player to win the Calder Memorial Trophy was Sergei Makarov of the Calgary Flames who was 31 years old. Makarov also happens to be one of the Russian Legends who will be playing in the friendly matchup between Anaheim Ducks Alumni vs. Russian Legends in early July. But I digress. The candidates this year are Adam Henrique of the New Jersey Devils, Gabriel Landeskog of the Colorado Avalanche and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Edmonton Oilers. All season long I believed Landeskog was the favorite to win the Calder Trophy. However, the playoff performance by Henrique in the playoffs closed the gap. In the end, I think Henrique will take it.
My Pick: Adam Henrique, New Jersey Devils
James Norris Memorial Trophy:
I wonder if this will get renamed the Nicklas Lidstrom trophy any time soon, now that he’s retired. However, Bobby Orr did win this a record eight times in a row. The Norris Trophy goes to the defenseman who best demonstrates the greatest all-around ability at the position. The candidates this year are Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins, Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators and Shea Weber of the Nashville Predators. This may be a trophy that gets awarded to Karlsson a lot in his career, but not yet in his early career. Weber and Chara are arguable the two best defenseman in the entire league right now. I think both of them could win this trophy this year, but, even though I’m not a big Chara guy, I think Chara will win and is deserved.
My Pick: Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins
This may be the most difficult trophy to decide on a winner. The Vezina is awarded to the goaltender who is judged to be the best at his decision. The candidates for the Vezina are Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers, Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators and Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings. Each of these guys are good enough to win multiple Vezinas, but of course, only one can win. I choose Jonathan Quick because he played unbelievably all season long. Among the league leaders in every goaltending category, but what set him apart from the other two teams, Quick had to deal with a team that was one of the worst offenses in the entire league.
My Pick: Jonathan Quick
Finally, the Hart Trophy is awarded to the player judged to be the most valuable player to his team. Wayne Gretzky won the Hart Trophy a record nine times in his career, including eight years in a row. The nominees are Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers, Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Once again, it pains me to say this, but the most deserving player out of these three is Evgeni Malkin. If the injury-ridden Penguins did not have Malkin this season, it’s pretty fair to say that they may have not even made the playoffs and they had recorded the second-highest point total in the Eastern Conference.
My Pick: Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins
I hope you enjoyed my picks for the 2012 NHL Awards and a quick reminder again that the Awards Show will be this upcoming Wednesday June 20 at 4:00 PM on the NBCSports Network.
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Topics: 2012 NHL Awards Show, Adam Henrique, Bill Masterson Memorial Trophy, Bob Murray, Boston Bruins, Brian Campbell, Bridgestone Messier Leadership Award, Calder Memorial Trophy, Chris Chelios, Colorado Avalanche, Dale Tallon, Daniel Alfredsson, David Backes, David Poile, Detroit Red Wings, Doug Armstrong, Dustin Brown, Edmonton Oilers, Erik Karlsson, Evgeni Malkin, Florida Panthers, Frank J. Selke Trophy, Gabriel Landeskog, GM Of The Year Award, Hart Trophy, Henrik Lundqvist, Jack Adams Trophy, James Norris Memorial Trophy, Jarome Iginila, Joffrey Lupul, John Tortorella, John-Michael Liles, Jonas Hiller, Jonathan Quick, Jordan Eberle, Ken Hitchcock, Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, Los Angeles Kings, Mark Messier, Mats Sundin, Matt Moulson, Max Pacioretty, Mike Fisher, Mike Gillis, Montreal Canadiens, Nashville Predators, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, NHL Foundation Award, Ottawa Senators, Patrice Bergeron, Paul McLean, Pavel Datsyuk, Pekka Rinne, Phoenix Coyotes, Pittsburgh Penguins, Ryan Callahan, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Shane Doan, Shea Weber, St. Louis Blues, Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning, Ted Lindsay Award, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vezina Trophy, Zdeno Chara