The NHL All-Star weekend just happened, which means it’s time for me to dig deep and make some way-too-early NHL Awards Predictions. I’ll look through most of the major awards, their criteria, and establish who I think will win and why.
Presidents’ Trophy– Every year the President’s Trophy is awarded to the team with the best regular season record. I believe for the second year in a row, the Colorado Avalanche will take home this trophy. If the Avalanche do win the President’s Trophy, they will look to become the first team since the 2012-12 Blackhawks to win the President’s Trophy and the Stanley Cup in the same year.
Lord Stanley’s Cup– Named after Lord Frederick Arthur Stanley, the Stanley Cup is awarded each season to the team that wins the NHL’s Playoffs. It is not only one of the hardest trophies to win in all of sports, but it is also the heaviest professional team sports trophy, weighing in at just under 37 pounds.
I believe this season that the Avalanche will go all the way and win decisively in the Cup Finals. This team is fast, strong, and skilled, and have a chance to make up for their second round exit last year.
Prince of Wales Trophy– This trophy is given to the champions of the eastern conference in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. I believe this season the Carolina Hurricanes will defeat the Florida Panthers in the eastern conference finals. Florida has a phenomenal team but the depth and grit of the Hurricanes will be too much for them.
Clarence S. Campbell bowl– The Campbell bowl goes to the winners of the Western Conference. As I stated before, I see the Avalanche coming out of the West this season.
Hart Memorial– Each year the Hart Memorial Trophy is awarded to the league’s MVP, as voted by writers in the Hockey Writers’ Association. This season, I see it going to 36-year-old legend Alex Ovechkin.
Ovechkin is top five in goals and total points and is top 20 in assists. His assists and plus/minus have both improved remarkably in his 17th year in the NHL, and his energy is the one of the only things holding the Capitals in playoff contention right now.
If Ovechkin can string a few more big games together before the playoffs, he should definitely get the Hart. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl in Edmonton are both amazing players, but when there’s two perennial superstars on a team that can barely make the playoffs, how can either be considered an MVP?
Conn Smythe (Playoff MVP)– If the Colorado Avalanche perform the way I expect them to, the Conn Smythe will go to Gabriel Landeskog. Landeskog is the only player in the top 30 point scorers to have played less than 40 games this year. He has six goals in his past five games, and is incredibly fast down the wing. He’s got soft hands, a clean shot, and if he can stay out of the penalty box I can see Landeskog taking Colorado to a title this year. If he does, he’ll get the Conn Smythe as a bonus.
Vezina Trophy (goalie)– For me this wasn’t a tough decision. I know a lot of people love Igor Shesterkin from the Rangers to take the Vezina, but I don’t. Shesterkin is a great goalie who has done crazy well for New York, but I see what Frederik Andersen is doing in Carolina, and I have to give him my vote.
Andersen has been consistently a top tier goalie over the years. Since he started his pro career in 2013, he’s never had a losing season, and only one season with a save percentage below .900. But this year he’s blown it out of the water with a .929 save percentage, the most wins in the NHL, and the best Goals Against Average of any goalie that has started more than 17 games this year. If Carolina gets anywhere near the presidents trophy this season, I expect Andersen to take the Vezina.
Calder Memorial Trophy (Rookie of the Year)- Lucas Raymond is leading all rookies in total points and is third in goals. He is a top three scorer on his team, and is one of the main reasons that Detroit is still fighting for a wild card spot, despite being seven points back. Raymond is the clear cut winner for this award. Honorable Mention to the most fun player in hockey, Trevor Zegras.
Art Ross (most points)– Connor McDavid. The best player in the league, the filthiest hands I’ve ever watched. This kid is so damn good it’s just painful to see him on a team that can’t find a way to win consistently. The good news is McDavid is fun to watch regardless of how his team is doing. That being said, it sure would be nice to see the kid win the cup sometime soon.
Frank J Selke Award (best defensive forward)- this is always a tough award to predict, but I see it going to either Alexander Barkov or Johnny Gaudreau. Barkov has had a stellar season after winning the Selke award last year. He’s stellar defensively and often leads the Panthers on their breakouts.
On the other side is Johnny Gaudreau, the Calgary Flames winger. Gaudreau leads the league in plus/minus at +36, which is considerable for a forward. In fact, Gaudreau is one of three forwards to have a plus/minus above 30. For that reason, I see the award going to Gaudreau.
James Norris Memorial Trophy (best all around defenseman)- Cale Makar of the Colorado Avalanche is the leading the league’s defenseman in points, and the Avalanche have one of the best goal differentials in the league. Makar is fast, knows how to play odd-man rushes, and is beloved by his teammates, which is important in a top two defenseman. Makar is without a doubt the best defenseman in the league.
Jack Adams Award (best coach) Rob Brind’Amour has led the Hurricanes to an incredible season so far, despite losing their top defenseman and goalie in the offseason. Brind’Amour and the Hurricanes have a top five powerplay and the best Penalty Kill in the league. He won the Jack Adams last year, and is doing just as well with a slightly depleted squad. He should win it again.
Maurice “Rocket” Richard (Most Goals)- Leon Draisaitl. You know why? Because he’s the second best player on his team. Connor McDavid might win an award this year but it won’t be this one. McDavid is too good of a passer and too smart of a player to not create tons of goals for Draisaitl. Draisaitl may start to run away with this one towards the end of the season, but look at veteran Alex Ovechkin to try to give him a run for his money as Ovechkin chases down Wayne Gretzky’s all time goal scoring record.
Ted Lindsay Award (MVP voted by Players) I see Connor McDavid taking home this award for the fourth time in the last six years. Everyone in the league is in awe of McDavid’s pure ability, as they should be.
In my eyes, McDavid is the most skilled player to ever grace the ice of an NHL rink. His goals are incredible, his hockey IQ is unmatched, and he always extends plays to make sure the Oilers can try to get something going. If Edmonton can make a push to get into the playoffs, McDavid should take home this award.
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