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Op-Ed: NHL awards get under way tonight in Las Vegas

By Tyler Hunt     Jun 22, 2011 in Sports
A week after the Stanley Cup was awarded to the Boston Bruins, the 2011 NHL awards will take place tonight in Las Vegas, honouring individual players for their performances during the regular season.
For the third straight year the NHL awards will be handed out in Las Vegas and the players will be in attendance as the awards are given out.
The nominees are:
Hart Trophy (awarded to the player most valuable to his team): Anaheim Ducks forward Corey Perry, Daniel Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks, and Martin St. Louis of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
It was a tight race throughout the year for the Hart Trophy candidates, and Corey Perry was almost certainly not on the list of potential nominees at the halfway point of the season. But the 26-year-old Peterborough, Ontario native scored 19 times in his last 16 games and was the only player to score 50 goals this season, passing Lightning sniper Steven Stamkos (45) and coming just two points shy of reaching 50 goals and 50 assists, finishing the year with 98 points.
The most remarkable thing about Perry's season is that he accomplished those feats while linemate Ryan Getzlaf missed 15 games to injury. Sedin had brother Henrik play all 82 games and chip in 94 points as well, suggesting (to me at least) that Daniel was less valuable to his team than Perry was to the Ducks. It's a tough sell to take the trophy away from Sedin's 104 point season just because his brother happened to score more points than Getzlaf did, but for the purpose of the Hart Trophy, Corey Perry should take the cake.
Ted Lindsay Award (to the most outstanding player as voted by his peers): Perry and Daniel Sedin, as well as Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
This award will be up to the NHL players to decide, but despite Stamkos' slow finish to the year, the 21-year-old Lightning forward might get the nod from his fellow peers. Stamkos was a dominant force for the Lightning this year and his trademark one-timer from the top of the circle became a household name for fans in Tampa Bay. Though Perry came on at the end of the year to win the scoring race, Stamkos still finished 2nd in the league in goals and helped the Lightning to the Conference Finals, where they lost in seven games to the eventual Stanley Cup Champions, the Boston Bruins.
Vezina Trophy (most outstanding goaltender): Roberto Luongo of the Canucks, Nashville's Pekka Rinne, and Conn Smythe Trophy winner Tim Thomas from the Bruins.
The Vezina will likely be the 3rd award Thomas will steal away from Luongo, after winning the Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe Trophy after a seven game series with Luongo's Canucks. Thomas set an NHL record with a .938 save percentage this year, and followed that up with a .940 percentage in the playoffs to lead the Bruins to their first Stanley Cup since 1972.
Norris Trophy (outstanding all-around defenceman): Bruins' captain Zdeno Chara, Red Wings veteran Nicklas Lidstrom or Shea Weber of the Nashville Predators.
In what will soon be renamed the Nicklas Lidstrom award (the Red Wings captain has been nominated for the award in 11 of the past 13 years), the Norris Trophy has some tough competition this year as three captains head the running, with Lidstrom himself a nominee again. Lidstrom led all nominees this season with 62 points, good for 2nd in the NHL, though his plus-minus rating was a minus-2, the worst of his career. Chara led the league in that statistic, having a plus-33 rating while contributing 44 points and leading the Bruins to a Stanley Cup. Weber was the rock on a thin blue line in Nashville, and helped the Predators reach the Western Conference semi-finals for the first time in franchise history.
Calder Trophy (outstanding rookie): Logan Couture of the San Jose Sharks, New York Isles' Michael Grabner, and Jeff Skinner of the Carolina Hurricanes
The three rookies all had incredibly impressive debuts in the NHL, with Couture finishing 2nd in both goals and points among rookies, while Grabner and Skinner were the leaders in those categories (respectively). Couture continued his good year in the post-season, scoring 14 points in 18 games for the Sharks as they were ousted in the Western Conference Finals by the Canucks. If his performance was enough for the voters to overlook Grabner and Skinner's productive regular seasons, Couture could walk away with the Calder for his performance all-year round.
Jack Adams Award (for most outstanding coach): Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma, Barry Trotz of the Nashville Predators, and Alain Vigneault of the Vancouver Canucks.
As far as overcoming adversity, Dan Bylsma is the runaway favorite for how he dealt with the losses of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and for most of the season Jordan Staal. The Penguins still finished the season fourth in the Eastern Conference with 106 points, but the lack of star power forced them out of the playoffs after losing their first round matchup to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
For all Vancouver has lost this season, the Jack Adams should be one that they take home and put next to the President's Trophy they won for finishing first in the regular season, and the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl for representing the Western Conference in the Cup Final. Alain Vigneault did a tremendous job coaching a very talented team, and the Canucks finished the regular season 10 points ahead of the nearest team in the league standings. They led the league in both goals for (258) and goals against (180), and came one win shy of winning the Stanley Cup on home-ice.
Selke Trophy (awarded to the best defensive forward): Pavel Datsyuk of the Detroit Red Wings, Vancouver's Ryan Kesler, and Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews.
Pavel Datsyuk has won the award in the last three straight years, but Kesler established himself as an elite two-way centre this year. He played against other teams' top lines, and cut his penalty minutes nearly in half from last season. Toews had the most points this season out of the nominees, as well as the best plus-minus rating with a plus-25.
Lady Byng Trophy (most gentlemanly player): Loui Eriksson of the Dallas Stars, Lidstrom, and St. Louis.
Eriksson had just eight penalty minutes while notching 73 points this season, but Martin St. Louis, who is the defending champion in this category, looks to be on his way to his second straight Lady Byng. St Louis took just 12 penalty minutes while scoring 99 points, ranking second in the league in points and assists.
Trophies already awarded include The Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy, awarded to the top goal scorer in the regular season (Corey Perry); the Art Ross Trophy for most points (Daniel Sedin); and the William Jennings Trophy for the goaltending tandem with the fewest goals scored against them (Luongo, Cory Schneider).
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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