The Hitting Zone

The NHL just makes it up as they go along, why can't we?

End of Year Awards Picks

I’ve done this the last three years in some form for public consumption.  Time to lay out my picks for the NHL awards. Some of these are sure fire misses but I make picks based on the intent of the award not the agenda of the NHL or sports media.  I of course will not be naming winners of automatic winners like the Rocket Richard Trophy. Also note not everyone I personally select is a finalist this year.

1. Hart Memorial Trophy: awarded to the player adjudged most valuable to his team.  Oz’s Pick: Marc-Andre Fleury – Pittsburgh Penguins.  No single player was more important to his individual team than the Flower was down the stretch.  Without him the Penguins do not hold on to fourth let alone eight in th East after losing their two highest skill players and then opening a M*A*S*H Unit in their locker room for much of the stretch run.

2. Vezina Trophy: awarded to the goaltender adjudged to be the best at this position. Oz’s Pick: Tim Thomas – Boston Bruins.  Timmy played in 57 games, went 35-11-9 with a 2.00 GAA and .938 Sv%.  No one better with that volume of work.

3. Calder Memorial Trophy: awarded to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition in the NHL. Oz’s Pick: Michael Grabner – New York Islanders.  Grabner had 34G 18A and was a +13 on the year.  This was a really tough call among several good candidates including Logan Couture, Jeff Skinner, and Brad Marchand but Grabner did it in 76 games with arguably the most terrible team in the league.

4. James Norris Memorial Trophyawarded to the defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position.  Oz’s Pick:  Shea Weber – Nashville Predators.  This award in the second most important to me as someone who used to play the position and is not the equivalent to the defenseman scoring title as so many are apt to make it.  Weber was all around the best at his position on the year.  +11 in Giveaway/Takeaway which is a tough stat to be positive in as a blueliner he put in 16G 48A, racked up 25:19 TOI a game and 211 hits while going +7.  While none of these are top in a category he is near the top in all of them (except +/-).  He’s was the best all around player this year at the position without a doubt.

5. Bill Masterton Memorial TrophyAwarded to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.  Generally the NHL’s comeback player award.  Oz’s Pick: Daymond Langkow – Calgary Flames.  Langkow was on life support after a neck injury in March of 2010 and needed several comeback attempts from broken vertebra.  He played hockey again on April 1st, 2011 playing in his 1,014th NHL tilt.

6. Ted Lindsay Award: Awarded to the NHL’s outstanding player as selected by the members of the NHLPA.  This is the League MVP as voted by the players.  Oz’s Pick:  Daniel Sedin – Vancouver Canucks.  The players will reward the points leader.  There are good names at the top of this list but in the end the only other person with a chance is Corey Perry as the only 50 goal scorer.

7. Jack Adams Award: Awarded to the NHL coach adjudged to have contributed the most to his team’s success.  Oz’s Pick: Dan Bylsma – Pittsburgh Penguins.  What Disco did with a shredded roster is simply make the playoffs as the fourth seed and challenge for the Eastern Conference and Atlantic Division title up until the last week of the season.  A lot of questions about Bylsma were answered this year.  He is a coach, not just an ideas guy.  24/7 combined with the result of his team after the loss of so many key elements will easily put this trophy on his shelf.

8. Frank J. Selke TrophyAwarded to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game. Oz’s Pick: Jonathan Toews – Chicago Blackhawks.  This was close in my mind between Toews and Ryan Kessler of the Canucks.  Kessler plays a good amount of PK but Toews was the better defensive forward in my mind in all phases of the game.  He was +25 on the year with 93 Takeaways.  None of the other nominees approach those statistics.

That’s it.  I don’t watch enough games league wide to make a call on the completely subjective Lady Bing nor am I dialed in enough to off the ice activities to hand out the King Clancy (tho Mike Rupp and Max Talbot deserve consideration for their work in Haiti).  I don’t care about Messier’s make himself important award as it is just a self serving crock.

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