With the NHL's regular season ending Sunday. what better time than to give my picks for the year-end awards. I don't think there will be anything here too shocking.
The Hart Trophy for MVP will go to Alex Ovechkin. The Capitals forward is the face of the NHL right now and he has helped the Capitals turn into one of league's elite. They have to be considered as a Stanley Cup favourite even though they are a little suspect between the pipes. If there is a game on in which Ovechkin is playing, you feel compelled to watch just to see what he will do and if one of his goals will be repeated for years to come because of the magic involved in it.
The Calder Trophy for Top Rookie will go to Steve Mason. The Columbus goalie leads the NHL with 10 shutouts and his play has helped the Jackets go to the playoffs for the first time ever.
The Norris Trophy for Top Defenceman. I have already discussed this. My vote goes to Zdeno Chara of the Bruins. He is the best blueliner in the league and while he doesn't have the offensive numbers of Mike Green, the award as I have stated previously is for the top defenceman and not the top offensive defenceman. Thus, my vote goes to Chara.
The Vezina for Top Goalie: Wow!!! This one is tough. Do you take Mason because of his 10 shutouts. How about Tim Thomas or Miikka Kiprusoff or Cam Ward?? One can't ignore what Roberto Luongo has done or what Evgeni Nabokov has done. I can't see Mason getting the award but when you look at the 2nd half of the season and what Ward has done, I may lean his way. I say either Ward or Luongo.
The Jack Adams Trophy for Coach of the Year: Once again this is not an easy decision. Ken Hitchcock has gotten Columbus to the playoffs for the first time ever. Paul Maurice got Carolina going once he took over for Peter Laviolette, Claude Julien was outstanding in Boston, Todd McLellan got the Sharks to first overall in his first season as coach but perhaps Andy Murray gets the nod here. Did anyone think St. Louis was a playoff team at the start of the season?? My vote has to go to Murray.
The Selke for best defensive forward: This has Mike Richards' name written all over it. The guy might be the best two way player in the league. Is there anything the guy can't do?
The Lady Byng for Most gentlemanly player: Pavel Datsyuk has owned this award for the past couple of years. If the shoe fits......
As for the Stanley Cup winner and who they will beat. Well, I've got a couple of more days to figure that one out and I don't want to give anyone who I might be in a pool with some ammo to derail my mission of winning so I'll post that before the playoffs begin.