PensInitiative NHL Award Predictions by @evil_shero @madchad412 @toonsbrian @ryannoble66 @chicksdighockey

The regular season has ended and, outside of the big trophy, casual conversation turns towards who will take home the hardware at the glitzy award ceremony in Vegas. Without Jay Mohr or Nickleback (thankfully with both) the Pens Initiative crew brings you their choice for the 2013 NHL Awards.




Norris Trophy

Evil Shero

The James Norris Memorial Trophy is awarded annually to the National Hockey League's top "defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position".

This season has given us some new names to throw into the discussion of the NHL's best defense man. We have seen some players realize their potential and some fall back into the background of this discussion. Here  are my four nominees for this award which are nothing more than my opinion. 


Scoring Stats Goals Ice Time
Season GP G A PTS +/- PIM PP SH S S% ATOI
2012-13 39 11 25 36 9 53 7 0 116 9.5 23:09
Career 199 32 80 112 11 298 21 0 522 6.1 23:15
(current as of 4/21/13)

P.K. Subban - Montreal Canadiens


Regardless of his despicable on-ice play, Subban has been an offensive force for the surprising Canadiens. After sitting out the first 4 games to a contract dispute has put up some pretty impressive offensive numbers and at the time of writing this is top in the NHL. His 7 Power Play goals are second only to teammate Andre Markov. His time on the Power Play as well is Top 5 in the league. 

On the other hand, Subban is not a top Penalty Killler (avg 90 seconds a game) he doesn't hit (45 hits this whole season), and he doesn't block shots (47 all season). You can be an offensive machine for your team but that's only one half of being "best all-round ability in the position."



Sco
ring Stats

Goals Ice Time
Season GP G A PTS GC +/- PIM PP SH S S% ATOI
2012-13 32 5 29 34 10 13 8 1 0 85 5.9 25:36
Career 382 44 161 205 67 39 245 16 2 851 5.2 22:03
current as of (4/21/13)


Kris Letang - Pittsburgh Penguins


When I read a few of these prediction pieces I hated hearing "if Letang was healthy ..." Letang is a force and an absolute game changer when he is on the ice. Despite playing 13 games less than 3-7 on the top d defenseman in scoring and 7 less than the top scorer PK Subban Letang is second amongst defensive scoring. He plays top minutes (7th in the league). He is top in the NHL in Powerplay minutes, and 7th in shots per game. Letang is as complete as a offensive defenseman gets.

On the other hand, Letang will likely not end top in NHL d-man scoring and for years for some reason that has counted against a player in winning the Norris.

Scoring Stats Goals Ice Time
Season GP G A PTS +/- PIM PP SH S S% ATOI
2012-13 44 3 23 26 17 31 2 0 86 3.5 24:08
Career 604 59 249 308 104 417 13 5 1211 4.9 25:23
(current as of 4/21/13)


Duncan Keith - Chicago Blackhawks

Duncan Keith does it all. He is Top 10 in scoring with an impressive +17. He is Top 10 in takeaways, and also kills penalties. He is the most defensive minded of the other two who out of Letang, and Subban has more hits, blocks, and takeways.

On the other hand, Keith's point total and offensive stats may be argued that they are a little inflated being on the top team in the entire NHL. As I've mentioned previously point totals sadly dictate the voting for the Norris sometimes more than it should.


Evil Shero's Pick: Kris Letang


Despite battling through another injury riddled season, no defenseman has done more with his ice time. Scoring the most points per game 1.06 (Subban 0.92, Suter 0.71, Keith  0.59) by a good margin. Despite only being used in even strength and powerplay opportunities maintains a +13 rating. He's playing over 25 minutes a game translating into his importance to his team. Kris Letang, in my humble opinion, should be this year's Norris Trophy winner.



Calder Memorial Trophy           

Ryan Noble


The Calder Memorial Trophy is awarded annually to the National Hockey Leagues “to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition.”


This has not been one of those NHL seasons where one rookie has been in a league of his own. There have been several young stars that have had an incredible rookie season. Perhaps in a compressed season it has been more difficult for an individual to stand out, however this has made for an entertaining race so far. Here are my three nominees for this award.
                 
  Jonathan Huberdeau - Florida Panthers

GP       G      A     Pts   PIM    +/-
45       14     14      28      16    -16




This has not been a great season for the Florida Panthers. A plus for the team has been Jonathan Huberdeau. The way he has stepped up for this team has been incredible. His 28 pts has him 83rd in the league overall and 1st for rookies. Huberdeau also plays an average 16:51 minutes a game . To have the debut season that he has with a limited supporting cast has been something special.

One part that has been less than sexy has been his -16 +/-, that is tough to avoid when the Florida Panthers have allowed the most goals in the NHL (162) and are tied for the fewest goals for. (104)


Cory Conacher - Ottawa Senators
GP     G    A     Pts     PIM     +/-
43      11  17     28       18        1


A very pleasant surprise for the Tampa Bay Lightning turned into a great pick up at the trade deadline for the Ottawa Senators. Though moving to the Sens has not allowed him to stand out as much as he did for Tampa, which has not prevented Conacher from being a huge contributor to his new team. He leads all rookies in the NHL with 3 game winning goals.




Brandon Saad - Chicago Blackhawks

GP    G     A   Pts   PIM  +/-
43    10    15   25   10      15


Though he did not look like a possible candidate in the beginning of the season, Saad has really turned his game around. With 25 points in his 43 games, he is one of the point leaders for all rookies in the NHL, though playing on the wing of Jonathan Toews is an advantage that not all Calder candidates have.


It should also be noted that Saad also leads rookies with a +15 +/-. However this is a result of being on the top line for a team that has the second most goals for (146) and the least goals against (94) in the NHL.



This is just my list of three potential winners for the Calder award. There are other players that also have a chance at winning the award. Other players that should be mentioned are Brendan Gallagher (MTL), Nail Yakupov (EDM) and Justin Schultz (EDM). Who are your predictions to take home the Calder?

Ryans Winner: Jonathan Huberdeau


Vezina Trophy 

Mad Chad (Chad Nolan)

The Vezina Trophy is awarded annually to the National Hockey League's goaltender who is "adjudged to be the best at this position". The award is actually voted on by all 30 NHL general managers. 

Even though goal scoring in the NHL is down, there really hasn't been a dominant goaltender this year. There is certainly no goalie running away with this award as we near the end of the season. Basically, as far as the Vezina goes, I'm look at stats and the goaltenders importance to his team's chances of winning. 

My honorable mentions:

 Jimmy Howard (Detroit Red Wings) The Wings are teetoring on the playoff bubble, but Howard has been solid this year. 18 wins, with .922 save &, and a 2.22 G.A.A. Even more impressive is only 3 teams in the Western Conference have scored more goals than the Red Wings

Antii Niemi (San Jose Sharks) The Sharks will be in the playoffs and Neimi's numbers are very good. Neimi is tied for the league lead in wins, and is in the top ten in save percentage and goals-against-average. 


My finalists: 

Henrik Lundqvist 


Henrik Lundqvist has been the main constant in New York all year. The Rangers are only eight in scoring in the eastern conference, but only Ottawa and Boston have allowed less goals. Lundqvist has played in almost every single game for the Rangers, with only one goaltender appearing in more games.


Tuuka Rask


Tuukka Rask has been is in the top five in save %, goals-against-average, and shutouts. The Bruins are have a chance to win the division and only Ottawa has allowed less goals than the Bruins. Rask has replaced the crazy Tim Thomas in big-time fashion. 

Sergei Bobrovsky 


The Blue Jackets missed the playoffs but it wasn't at the fault of Bobrovsky. The Blue Jackets are the third lowest scoring team in the Western conference. Second in save %, first in shutouts, and fifth in goals-against-average, Bobrovsky damn near single-handedly took the Blue Jackets to the postseason this year.

Winner: I think it basically comes down to Bobrovsky and Lundqvist. I would lean on giving it to Lundqvist more because he played more games, has just as good of stats, and his team got into the playoffs. However, Bobrovsky was the best goalie in hockey this year. The Blue Jackets would have finished near the bottom of the barrel had it not been for "Bob" and I think he needs rewarded for his amazing season. Also, suck it Paul Holmgren.




The Jack Adams Award
Brian Blystone (@ToonsBrian)
 
The Jack Adams Award is awarded to the NHL coach "adjudged to have contributed the most to his team's success" and is voted on by the National Hockey League Broadcasters Association. In this shortened season, there seems to be as many coaches who are deserving of the award as not and the NHLBA has their work cut out for them. In my humble opinion, these are the top three:

MacLean is squeezing all he can 



    out the Sens' roster.

Paul MacLean (Ottawa Senators): At the beginning of the season, Ottawa was clearly a playoff contender. The team had been blessed with an excellent mix of youth, skill and veteran leadership that all teams strive to attain. Players like Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson, future Hall of Famer Daniel Alfredsson, former Penguin Sergei Gonchar, incredible goaltender Craig Anderson and even pesky Chris Neil made the Sens a team few looked forward to playing.

    Then the injury bug hit.  Jason Spezza had back surgery. Karlsson lost much of the season to the infamous Achilles tear. Craig Anderson suffered a concussion while leading all goaltenders statistically and has not fully returned to his pre-injury form.

    The mere fact that Ottawa overcame so many obstacles to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs is largely due to MacLean’s leadership behind the bench.

The Original Q-Stache: Activate
Jack Quenneville (Chicago Blackhawks): Putting the Master of the Q-stache almost seems unfair. The Hawks, simply put, are loaded with firepower and will be for years to come. Not contending for the Western Conference Championship would be a gross disappointment for the Jonathan Toews lead team.

    But, really, who saw the team from Chicago having the season they’ve had? It’s one thing to go after the President’s Trophy. It’s another thing to put half of the season – even a lockout shortened season – behind you before seeing a regulation loss.

    27 of Chicago’s have ended in 1-goal differences. They won 19 of those. And of the 8 times they did lose those 1-goal games, half have been in OT or after a shootout.

    This team just didn’t lose. It refused to take a day off. And that refusal is largely because of the man behind the ‘stache.

Re-align this.
Todd Richards (Columbus Blue Jackets): I’ll be the first to admit that Richards is a dark horse and that I may be the only person outside of his own family to state that he deserves the award openly. But, please. Bear with me and ponder this: How do you judge a coach’s worth to his team? You look at his body of work and compare it to what that body of work should be.

    The Blue Jackets in the past year have had to completely reinvent themselves, largely due to the loss of Rick Nash to the Rangers. Certainly one man does not make a team…except this is Columbus and Rick Nash was the heart, soul and identity of that team.

    The Blue Jackets weren’t always pretty to watch this season. No other teams necessarily feared them, but 17 of their 48 games have made it to the extra period, helping them to claim the 9th spot in the Western Conference, eliminated from the playoffs by a tie-breaker with Minnesota. This season, the Jackets were able to amass 55 points (24-17-7) while last season saw them earn only 65 points through 82 games (29-46-7). That was good for dead last in the League by 9 points (Edmonton, 74 pts).

Brian’s Pick: Todd Richards The importance of this Blue Jackets season goes beyond typical. Since their inception, they’ve been the bottom feeders of the Central Division. And that was with Nash. This season, shortened by the lockout, would have provided an excellent opportunity to mail it in early and start thinking about next season and the realignment. Instead, Richards has gotten the team to buy into a philosophy that uses what they have now to put them into a position to contend.



The Frank J. Selke Trophy
Brian Blystone (@ToonsBrian)
 
     The fact that defense wins championships has been pointed out so many times that it’s considered cliché. Just because it’s cliché doesn’t mean it’s not true, though, and defensive forwards have become some of the most appreciated players in the sport as a result. It’s the offensive players that get back and cover that often take a team from “solid” to “outstanding.” This is why one of the League’s most prestigious awards, the Frank J. Selke Trophy, is awarded to the NHL forward who “demonstrates the most skill in the defensive component of the game.”

Good guy. Great 2-way game.
Patrice Bergeron (C- Boston Bruins):  If there’s one thing that I can’t stand about the NHL’s (or any other League’s) awards presentations it is the weight that a player carries over after winning the previous year. In most cases, that carry-over isn’t as deserved as 2012’s Selke winner, Patrice Bergeron.

    Bergeron can do it all. Bergeron has done it all. Power plays. Short handed. Even strength. Late in the game or early, Bergeron is a rock for the Bs.

    Statistically, there are few better. He leads the league in faceoff win %, at 61.6%. His plus/minus rating of +24, good for 4th in the league, would put him on pace for a +46 for a full season, besting his +36 from the 2012 campaign. His 2:14 of shorthanded ice time per game is not the best in the league, but he is still on the ice for roughly 40% of the Bruins shorthanded time. That’s after missing six games with a concussion.

Has a Cup and a yellow suit.
Jonathan Toews (C – Chicago Blackhawks): Rarely do you find a player that is as efficient defensively as he is offensively. When you do find that guy, usually his number is 19, he's a captain and he plays for the Chicago Blackhawks. Stats aside, you never want your team to have to play the ‘Hawks and Toews is a huge reason for that.

    But since stats do matter, Toews has a +28 (+49 adjusted) rating, 22 goals (2 each on the power play and shorthanded) and 4 game winners.  His takeaway giveaway ratio is an amazing 55/16. Those 55 takeaways actually lead the league. His 60.3% faceoff win percentage is also 2nd in the league behind one Patrice Bergeron, but who’s counting?


I feel the same way, Kemit.The same way.
Pavel Datsyuk (C – Detroit Red Wings): I hate Detroit and all of it’s players. I hate that team so much that I almost left Dats off of my list. I hate them so much, I almost made this a 25,000 word diatribe that may have landed me in Guantanamo Bay. I hate them so much that my mother came to my house and washed my mouth out with soap for muttering the things I muttered at my laptop while typing this piece. Plus, I’m grounded for life.

    In case you’re just tuning in: I hate the Detroit Red Wings.

    Pavel Datsyuk is great. Please don’t make me go into details.

    Fine. Datsyuk’s numbers have arguably fallen off over the past several years. At 34 years of age, that’s to be expected. But there’s something about the guy that makes players on opposing teams look ridiculous. Maybe it’s his triangular shaped head and stupid haircut. God, I hate Detroit.

    Like Jonathan Toews, that guy from the Motor City shares the league lead with 55 takeaways. He’s sitting on a +16 rating in front of a goaltender who has vastly underperformed this year in Jimmy Howard. He’s blocking shots and hitting (29 each). He would be on pace for 77 points if this were a regular-length season.

    Plus, I heard that you can trade 4 Lady Byngs for 5 shorthanded goals, so there’s that.

Brian’s Pick: Jonathan Toews It’s hard not to like Toews, to be honest. My first instinct was not to select him, rather leaning towards Bergeron. However, with the season that the Blackhawks have had and the role that the soon-to-be 25 year old  has played in that, I believe he is more deserving of the award. Plus...that suit.
 

Hart Memorial Trophy

Liz (@chicksdighockey)



The Hart Trophy, now known as The Hart Memorial trophy, is the oldest and most prestigious award in hockey. Since 1924, it has been awarded annually to the player judged to be most valuable to his team. It is voted on by members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, and each individual voter ranks their top five candidates on a 10-7-5-3-1 points system. The trophy is currently held by Evgeni Malkin.

The abbreviated season of 2013 offers an interesting mix of possibilities for the Hart.

Sidney Crosby: Prior to his devastating jaw injury on Mrach 30th, Crosby was the clear leader in the race with points in 28 of the36 games he played. So commanding was his lead that even after being sidelined and missing 6 games, he lead the NHL with 56 points, 41 assists, and 1.56 points per game average.

One of Crosby’s most impactful contributions to the Pens was the role he played in elevating the play of those around him, namely Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis. Both are enjoying career years on Crosby’s wings and found themselves among the top players in the league during the amazing15 game win streak in March. Crosby’s skill, vision and uncanny puck handling transforms the game when he is on the ice. Definative qualities of a Hart trophy candidate.

Alex Ovechkin: Early in the season, the Washington capitals were at the bottom of the NHL with a 5-10-1 record. Ovechkin was playing terrible. After 16 games he was a -8 with only 5 goals and 5 assists. The 27 yr old was slow and uninspired. Let’s face it, as Alex goes, so goes the Caps.

Midway thru the season, something happened and Ovechkin began to return to his old form and found the magic in his stick. Many credit coach Adam Oats for moving him to right wing and returning him to Nick Backstrom’s line. Since the end of February, when Ovechkin began scoring again, The Caps have risen to the top of the Southeast division with an 18-7-1 record.

The issue is, the Caps were at the bottom because of Ovechkin’s poor performance. Is it a Hart worthy performance if your lack of performance puts your team at the bottom in the first place necessitating a heroic rescue? Do you reward his sloppy lack luster opening because his coach was able to rally him back to his capable ways?

John Tavares: If the Islanders make the playoffs, Tavares deserves Hart consideration. He isn’t a top five scoring leader but he is he is the unquestioned leader and catalyst for the Isles. What’s impressive about Tavares’ performance is he has very little support. No Backstrom, no Malkin or Neal, no Patrick Kane. Don’t get me wrong, Moulson and Baily are good players but not elite. Simply put, the Islanders are the team they are because of John Tavares. Is that enough for a Hart?

Jonathan Toews: To win the Hart, you must have Heart. ‘Captain Serious’ has led the Blackhawks to the best record in the NHL by words as well as by example. He has shown he has a knack for coming up with big goals when his team needs them most. Toews does it all; power play as well as PK.

Patrick Kane has had a great season but he isn’t the all-around player Toews is .His leadership and patience is credited as a reason Brandon Saad is having such an outstanding rookie season. Toews isn’t the headline grabbing player Kane is but many say he’s the heart of the Blackhawks.
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