As the NHL and many of its teams are at or near the midway point of the season, lots of writers will be making their midseason choices for the award winners. So I will do the same, but at this point there are tons of potential winners. I will choose a winner from each division and then an overall winner.
Calder Trophy – Rookie of the Year
Pacific – Richard Bachman, DAL
Northwest – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, EDM
Central – Craig Smith, NSH
Southeast – Justin Faulk, CAR
Atlantic – Adam Henrique, NJD
Northeast – Jared Cowen, OTT
WINNER: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – His current shoulder injury might be long enough to deny the best rookie in the league this year the Calder at the end of the season. If he is out for an extended period of time, players like Henrique, Matt Read (PHI) and Gabriel Landeskog (COL) might overtake him based on consistency. It was interesting to note that some divisions don’t really have a stellar rookie and it was tough to come up with a worthy candidate for the Pacific and the Southeast divisions in this category.
Jack Adams Award – Coach of the Year
Pacific – Dave Tippett, DAL
Northwest – Mike Yeo, MIN
Central – Ken Hitchcock, STL
Southeast – Kevin Dineen, FLA
Atlantic – Tom Tortorella, NYR
Northeast – Paul MacLean, OTT
WINNER: Paul MacLean – He has the upstart Senators sitting in a position that if the playoffs were to start today, they would be the home team in the first round (games in hand notwithstanding). Few would have given Ottawa a chance to be in this position and MacLean, along with Dineen and Hitchock have led great (and likely unexpected) turnarounds this season.
Selke Trophy – Best Defensive Forward
Pacific – Joe Pavelski, SJ
Northwest – Ryan Kesler, VAN
Central – Jonathan Toews, CHI
Southeast – Stephen Weiss, FLA
Atlantic – Ryan Callaghan, NYR
Northeast – Patrice Bergeron, BOS
WINNER – Jonathan Toews – Chicago’s captain has been one of the best all around players in the NHL this season, if not the past decade and should finally get some individual regular season recognition. This is always a hard one to call as reputation usually supercedes on-ice performance and despite being a “defensive” award, points usually factor in somewhat.
Norris Trophy – Best Defenseman
Pacific – Dan Boyle, SJ
Northwest – Alex Edler, VAN
Central - Shea Weber, NSH
Southeast – Brian Campbell, FLA
Atlantic – Michael Del Zotto, NYR
Northeast – Erik Karlsson, OTT
WINNER – Erik Karlsson – I know those outside Ottawa will accuse me of being a “homer” but it is hard to argue with his production as well as his ability to turn a game around. His defensive positioning is a work in progress, but is not as bad as his reputation would suggest. With three of the top defensemen in the Northeat division (Chara, Phaneuf) it was a tough call to give Karlsson the nod in his own conference, let alone give him the award.
VEZINA TROPHY – TOP GOALTENDER
Pacific – Jonathan Quick, LA
Northwest – Roberto Luongo, VAN
Central – Brian Elliott, STL
Southeast – Jose Theodore, FLA
Atlantic – Henrik Lundqvist, NYR
Northeast – Tim Thomas, BOS
WINNER – Henrik Lundqvist – The best goaltender in the league this year, has the Rangers in first place overall. A tough choice, with 4 of the nominees sporting GAA of under 2.00. Elliott is probably the biggest surprise (well actually surprise is an understatement) and if he can maintain the pace he is on could challenge for the award by season’s end.
Hart Trophy – Most Valuable Player
Pacific – Anze Kopitar, LA
Northwest – Henrik Sedin, VAN
Central – Pavel Datsyuk, DET
Southeast – Steven Stamkos, TB
Atlantic – Claude Giroux, PHI
Northeast – Phil Kessel, TOR
WINNER – Claude Giroux – Despite missing a handful of games due to a concussion, Giroux is still leading his team in scoring by 11 points. Handed the keys to the team after the trade of Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, Giroux has exceeded expectations and branded himself a true superstar in the league. Even on a team full of stars, he has separated himself from the pack.