Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Kerrzy's Notebook: Awards Night!

The 2008-09 NHL season is officially over and it's not quite time for the Entry Draft or Free Agency...which means it's time for the NHL Awards show! This year, it's taking place in Las Vegas, which could wind up being a PR nightmare for the league if the players don't behave themselves...

Here are my picks:

The award: Hart Trophy (Most Valuable Player)

The nominees: Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings; Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins; Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals.

My pick: Evgeni Malkin - The 22-year-old had a dream season; an Art Ross trophy as the league's top scorer with 113 points in the regular season and the Conn Smythe trophy as playoff MVP with 36 points in the just can't really argue with that. When the Penguins were forced to play without Sidney Crosby in 2007-08, Malkin flourished, but he's been overshadowed by Crosby and Alex Ovechkin thus far in his career. I think this is his time to shine.

The award: Lester B. Pearson Award (Top Player as voted by NHLPA)

The nominees: Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings; Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins; Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals.

My pick: Pavel Datsyuk - You can't argue with Evgeni Malkin's statistics when it comes to the Hart Trophy, but I have a feeling that when the players association voted they gave Datsyuk the nod. He's one of the most skilled, complete players in the league right now and an absolute joy to watch.

The award: James Norris Memorial Trophy (Top Defenceman)

The nominees: Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins; Mike Green, Washington Capitals; Nicklas Lidstrom, Detroit Red Wings.

My pick: Nick Lidstrom - I don't think there is a better, more consistent defenceman in the NHL than Nick Lidstrom and if there's a guy that is close, it's Zdeno Chara. Lidstrom is one of those guys who his coach wants on the ice in every situation. He's the rock of Detroit's power play, he's one of their best penalty killers and at even-strength - he's your guy! At 39 it's amazing that he's still as dominant as he is.

The award: Calder Memorial Trophy (Top Rookie)

The nominees: Steve Mason, Columbus Blue Jackets; Bobby Ryan, Anaheim Ducks; Kris Versteeg, Chicago Blackhawks.

My pick: Steve Mason - This is a tough one and I think it comes down to Mason and Bobby Ryan, but I think you have to go with the goalie. He had 33 wins this season, led the league in shutouts with 10 and had the second best goals against average, behind only Tim Thomas. Bobby Ryan had a remarkable season too, leading all rookies in scoring with 31 goals and 57 points in 64 games, but I just feel like the shutouts are more impressive than the goals.

The award: Vezina Trophy (Top Goaltender)

The nominees: Niklas Backstrom, Minnesota Wild; Steve Mason, Columbus Blue Jackets; Tim Thomas, Boston Bruins.

My pick: Tim Thomas - Thomas led the league in GAA and save percentage and was a big part of the success of the Boston Bruins this season. Steve Mason and Nik Backstrom have the edge in shutouts, but I feel like this is Thomas' year.

The award: Frank Selke Trophy (Top Defensive Forward)

The nominees: Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings; Ryan Kesler, Vancouver Canucks; Mike Richards, Philadelphia Flyers.

My pick: Pavel Datsyuk - No one is more tenacious at both ends of the ice than Pavel Datsyuk. He won it last year and the only thing that's changed is he might be even better defensively now than he was last year. A lot of the offence generated by Datsyuk comes on the backcheck or when he strips an opposing defenceman of the puck in his own end. Mike Richards is the up-and-coming Selke candidate, but I'm going with Datsyuk.

The award: Lady Byng Memorial Trophy (Sportsmanship and Gentlemanly Play)

The nominees: Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings; Zach Parise, New Jersey Devils; Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay Lightning.

My pick: Pavel Datsyuk - This is a tough one, I think each of the players nominated could easily take it home. I'm going with Datsyuk though, because that's just what I'd like to see! Actually, what I'd like to see is another of his funny acceptance speeches ("I'd like to speech longer, but my english is short").

The award: Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy (Sportsmanship and Dedication to Hockey)

The nominees: Chris Chelios, Detroit Red Wings; Steve Sullivan, Nashville Predators, Richard Zednik, Florida Panthers.

My pick: Steve Sullivan - After not playing since 2007, Sullivan came back for 41 games this season and put up 32 points. That is very impressive in my books. All of the guys nominated have good stories, but I think Sullivan will get the nod. He was a true inspiration to those around him this season.

The award: Jack Adams Trophy (Coach of the Year)

The nominees: Claude Julien, Boston Bruins; Todd McLellan, San Jose Sharks; Andy Murray, St. Louis Blues.

My pick: Todd McLellan - McLellan led the Sharks to a 53-18-11 record with a Presidents' Trophy in his first season as a coach this year. The other nominees had strong seasons too - Claude Julien took the Bruins from eighth in the East last year to first place and Andy Murray took the St. Louis Blues from second last in the West to sixth this season. Overall though, I think having that kind of success in your first season as a head coach is just too impressive.

Lets see how I do!

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