2012 NHL Awards Spectacular

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It’s that time of year again.  The actual playing of the great game of hockey is done for another season, with hockey going Hollywood this season with the Los Angeles Kings winning the cup.  And what big time star hasn’t made the trek through the Mojave Desert to Sin City?  The NHL will be on Wednesday, June 20, in the Encore Theater at the Wynn Casino.  While it allows us to look back at the stars of this past year, unfortunately it brings the sadness of having to see Nickelback perform.  Who was nominated? Who will win the awards?  Who should actually win the awards?  Find out all this after the jump.  This article is a Nickelback free zone.

The National Hockey League continues to try and create more hockey centric events throughout the calendar year.  One of the league’s babies is the NHL Awards Show, which has been setting up shop in the entertainment capital of the world:  Las Vegas.  The 2012 NHL Awards show will be Wednesday, June 20, at 7:00 ET/6:00 CT on the NBS Sports Network.

 

This years spectacle continues to show how hockey is beginning to take over more in mainstream.  Celebrities such as Vince Vaughn, Kevin Smith, Ray Liotta, Joshua Jackson, and Matthew Perry.  Even Tracy Morgan is supposed to show!  Also, a certain band who will remain nameless will also perform, if you’re into that kind of thing.  Who will these people be naming when it’s time to give out the hardware?  Read on below.

 

 

 

Hart Trophy (MVP)

Nominees:

Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers

Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins

Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning

 

WHO WILL WIN:  Evgeni Malkin.  Malkin was the best player on a team missing possibly the world’s greatest player in Sidney Crosby.  How did Geno respond?  Scoring 50 goals, putting up more than 100 points, and pretty much dominating night in and night out.  Malkin seems to turn it up a notch with Crosby out of the lineup, and Malkin definitely had plenty moments this past season to show that he too can lead this team, and might be the best player in the NHL himself.

 

WHO SHOULD WIN:  Evgeni Malkin.  While it is tempting to give Stamkos some love for leading the league in scoring, and becoming one of the best players in hockey so quickly.  But Tampa floundered this season, and most of those goals ended up being meaningless.  I, for one, will definitely not give the award to a goalie who has so much talent in front of him.  Malkin carried the Penguins on his back all season, and while they didn’t finish as strong at season’s end, Malkin showed that he is as dominant as anybody in the offensive zone.

 

 

 

Vezina Trophy (Best Goalie)

Nominees:

Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers

Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators

Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings

 

WHO WILL WIN:  Henrik Lundqvist.  Lundqvist will likely get the love from the actual voters, with the large market and Winter Classic showing this year.  He also had numbers, and a team performance, that also got him a Hart Trophy nomination.  In the end, the Vezina will likely be the award that Lundqvist will win.

 

WHO SHOULD WIN:  Jonathan Quick.  While Lundqvist got most of the attention and hype this season, Quick quietly was even stronger than the Rangers’ netminder.  Quick also had a lot less firepower in front of him, with the Kings being one of the lowest scoring teams during the regular season.  While playoffs aren’t factored into the award voting, Quick’s Conn Smythe is proof that the Kings made the right choice in sticking with Quick as the starter, as he is quickly rising among the ranks as the NHL’s best goaltenders.

 

 

 

 

Norris Trophy (Best Defenseman)

Nominees:

Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins

Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators

Shea Weber, Nashville Predators

 

WHO WILL WIN:  Shea Weber.  With the retirement of Nick Lidstrom, it’s officially time to name a new best defenseman in hockey.  All three players deserved nominations this year, although the nomination of Karlsson is more about his offensive output than defensive prowess.  While Chara won the Cup last year, Weber continued to show the evolution towards becoming one of the best defensemen the league has seen.

 

WHO SHOULD WIN:  Shea Weber.  While it’s tempting to give this award to Chara, after all he’s had to sit by while Lidstrom collected Norris after Norris, but Weber not only is a physical prototype for a blueliner, but is doing it with much less fanfare and hype in Nashville.  Weber brings the body every night in Smashville.  Plus, who can forget the WWE like move Weber pulled in the playoffs against Detroit.  I’d give him the award just for that, but his body of work is more than enough to win this award.

 

 

 

Calder Trophy (Rookie of the Year)

Nominees:

Adam Henrique, New Jersey Devils

Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado Avalanche

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Edmonton Oilers

 

WHO WILL WIN:  Gabriel Landeskog.  This is a tricky pick.  While Nugent-Hopkins ended up tied for the rookie lead in points, he missed much of the season due to injury.  Landeskog caught up to RNH by season’s end to tie him. And although RNH did it in fewer games, Landeskog played very well down the stretch, and didn’t appear to hit a wall.

 

WHO SHOULD WIN:  Gabriel Landeskog.  Landeskog not only was a scorer in a difficult place to play in Denver, but turned out to be one of the most clutch players on the Avalanche roster.  In fact, he led the team in goals scored, and even managed to play in all 82 games his rookie season.  One of the more memorable moments of this past season was the performance Landeskog put on while battling an illness during the middle of the season.  Not only did he battle through it, but managed to net the game winner in OT.

 

 

 

Lady Byng Trophy (Sportsmanship)

Nominees:

Brian Campbell, Florida Panthers

Jordan Eberle, Edmonton Oilers

Matt Moulson, New York Islanders

 

WHO WILL WIN:  Brian Campbell.  This award usually tends to go to a veteran, and Campbell has the most seniority on this list.  Another reason is that Campbell played a big part in the Florida Panthers’ turnaround this season.  Campbell was a leader on the ice for his team all season long.  On the ice and out of the box is a good way to win this award.

 

WHO SHOULD WIN:  Matt Moulson.  While it’s pretty easy to look over a New York Islander when it comes to awards, Moulson is one of the bright spots coming from Long Island.  He scored more than 35 goals, managed to keep his plus/minus in the black while playing for a pretty bad team.  He even played in every game this year, and still had single digit penalty minutes.  The Islanders didn’t have much to celebrate this season, but Moulson gives them a little bit of love at the awards.

 

 

 

Selke Trophy (Defensive Forward)

Nominees:

David Backes, St. Louis Blues

Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins

Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings

 

WHO WILL WIN:  Patrice Bergeron.  Bergeron had a ridiculous +36 plus/minus rating for the entire season and played in all but one game this year.  One of the reasons that Boston has been so stingy is the ability of Bergeron to get up and down the ice, and be dominant in both ends.  This award will be one of the few without any drama.

 

WHO SHOULD WIN:  Patrice Bergeron.   Bergeron not only put up more than  60 points this season, but anchored the Bruins in all situations on the ice.  While Zdeno Chara is the team’s foundation on the blueline, Bergeron is the Bruins’ glue up front, making sure everything flows cleanly towards the offensive zone, and away from the Boston net.

 

 

 

Jack Adams Award (Coach of the Year)

Nominees:

Ken Hitchcock, St. Louis Blues

Paul Maclean, Ottawa Senators

John Tortorella, New York Rangers

 

WHO WILL WIN:  John Tortorella.  Torts not only has the power of America’s biggest market behind him, but he also has a head coach’s best asset recently:  an appearance on HBO’s 24/7.  While he hasn’t been as colorful as past coaches featured in the program (f-ing hello Bruce f-ing Boudreau), the exposure, not to mention strong play of the Rangers this season, will likely get Tortorella a second Jack Adams Award (Tampa, 2004).

 

WHO SHOULD WIN:  Ken Hitchcock.  The biggest turnaround this season came from St. Louis.  The years of building through the draft finally paid off, as this team stormed to a Central Division title.  Except things looked more blue at the beginning of the season.  After firing coach Davis Payne, and bringing in Ken Hitchcock to control this team, the Blues became the hottest team in hockey, and almost finished the season with the best record in the NHL.  St. Louis might not be as sexy as the New York Rangers, and Ken Hitchcock is definitely not as sexy as Tortorella, but Hitch did the best coaching job in the NHL this year, and deserves to win this award.

 

 

 

 

Masterton Trophy (Comeback Player)

Nominees:

Daniel Alfredsson, Ottawa Senators

Joffrey Lupul, Toronto Maple Leafs

Max Pacioretty, Montreal Canadiens

 

WHO WILL WIN:  Max Pacioretty.  While Alfredsson could be seen as the veteran favorite for this award, Pacioretty’s injury was definitely more visible.  Pacioretty came back from the gruesome injuries suffered when Zdeno Chara checked him into the corner of the glass.  The hit forced the NHL to change the way the glass is configured, bringing in curved glass at the ends of the benches, instead of the stiff stanchions that existed before.

 

WHO SHOULD WIN:  Max Pacioretty.  The fact that Pacioretty scored 35 goals this season shows how skilled he can be.  The fact that he played in 79 games this season, despite suffering a concussion and fractured vertebrae in March 2011.  The speed in which Pacioretty returned, and the talent he displayed this season, without any apparent lingering effects of the Chara hit, should be enough to win this award.

 

 

 

Ted Lindsay Award (NHLPA MVP)

Nominees:

Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers

Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins

Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning

 

WHO WILL WIN:  Evgeni Malkin.  The NHL players get to vote on who they think was the best player every year, and this year Malkin should easily take this award home.  Who else would know how dominant a player like Malkin can be than his peers?  The job done this year by the Penguins’ star would be MVP worthy in any year, but with the Penguins lacking a true second weapon in Sidney Crosby, Malkin was left to do all the heavy lifting himself.

 

WHO SHOULD WIN:  Evgeni Malkin.  What else can be said about Malkin’s monster season?  Nothing.  The best scorer on one of the best teams, despite the injuries that the Penguins dealt with.  The media, the coaches, the players, and even the fans could tell that Malkin was the best player this season, and he even seemed to push his game to a whole other level this year.  While the best player in the game debate usually comes down to Crosby, Ovechkin, or occasionally Stamkos, Malkin staked his claim to the argument well.  And Malkin’s numbers this year definitely don’t lie.

 

 

 

Messier Leadership Award (Leadership)

Nominees:

Dustin Brown, Los Angeles Kings

Ryan Callahan, New York Rangers

Shane Doan, Phoenix Coyotes

 

WHO WILL WIN:  Ryan Callahan.  It would be quite a magical moment for the league to have an award named after a former Rangers captain be given to the current Rangers captain.  Which is why I feel that Callahan will walk away with this award.  The exposure of the Rangers this year, and the strong play by Callahan to lead New York to the #1 seed in the East, will likely be enough to give Callahan the win here.  Doan is the enduring veteran, but Callahan is the new face of hockey in New York, and this year’s Messier Award winner.

 

WHO SHOULD WIN:  Shane Doan.  Doan has quietly made himself quite a career down in the desert.  Being a holdover from the original Winnipeg Jets when they moved, Doan has been forced to deal with the year in and year out mess that is the Phoenix Coyotes and their ownership issues.  Doan hasn’t allowed the rumors of another possible move, or the seemingly endless line of potential owners, to affect his, or the Coyotes’, play.  With Doan as their leader, the Coyotes continue to win and improve, a true testament to their captain.

 

 

 

 

NHL Foundation Award (Community)

Nominees:

Mike Fisher, Nashville Predators

John-Michael Liles, Toronto Maple Leafs

Matt Moulson, New York Islanders

 

WHO WILL WIN:  Mike Fisher.  Fisher is definitely the sexy pick for this award, and that isn’t even including his wife, Carrie Underwood.  Fisher is involved in many different charitable organizations, including a not for profit hockey school which benefits youths, and has raised more than $100,000 throughout the years.  Good to know Fisher is giving the people something more than just looks at his wife.

 

WHO SHOULD WIN:  Matt Moulson.  Not only is Moulson skilled and gentlemanly on the ice, he is even more giving off the ice.  And his production on the ice even helps give back to the community.  For every goal that Moulson has scored the last few seasons, he has donated $500 per goal to the Moulson Charity Goal Program, which feeds into the Islanders Children’s Foundation,  Moulson also helped implement the Wounder Warrior Project into the Islanders’ home games, which allows for wounded veterans to come to Islanders games, and even meet the players.

 

 

GM of the Year

Nominees:

Doug Armstrong, St. Louis Blues

David Poile, Nashville Predators

Dave Tallon, Florida Panthers

 

WHO WILL WIN:  Dave Tallon.  Everybody snickered last summer when the Panthers and Tallon had to sling a lot of cash to a lot of players just to get to the cap floor.  All those moves turned out to pay off in the end, with the Florida Panthers collecting an unexpected Southeast Division title.  Such a turnaround is essentially a guarantee to be honored by your peers in the NHL.

 

WHO SHOULD WIN:  Dave Tallon.  For all the reasons above and more.  Tallon managed to turn chumps into champs in one offseason.  And this team even seemed to have so heat as the season, and playoffs, rolled on.  Despite being in the home of the Heat.  Tallon and the Panthers gave South Beach residents a chance to watch a real sport all winter, and spring, long.

 

 

 

bryan vickroy the sports bank

Bryan Vickroy has an addiction to hockey, and is willing to partake in all its forms.  He is skating extra shifts for The Sports Bank, covering the Minnesota Wild, the NHL, and NCAA hockey all year long.  Look for new articles throughout the week.  He can be followed on Twitter at @bryanvickroy.  If you’d prefer to speak in more than 140 characters at a time to him, he can be reached at bryan.vickroy@gmail.com .

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