As we make way to Las Vegas for the NHL Awards Show, we have plenty of time to opine who might be grabbing the hardware on Wednesday night at the Wynn Encore Theater. I will run through the nominees for the contested awards and pick the folks I would like to see win as well as attempting to project who will actually win.
I will mark my personal choices with an asterisk (*) and mark my projected winners with a (W).
This year's nominees all had great seasons but using the definition of "the player most valuable to his team" would eliminate Steven Stamkos as the Lightning went nowhere with him this season. While Henrik Lundqvist was the Rangers' savior for the first four months of the season, he faded toward the end. Evgeni Malkin was the saving grace for the Penguins who were without Sidney Crosby for most of the year. I see no way that Malkin doesn't win the Hart
Evgeni Malkin * W
The definition of the award is "the goaltender adjudged to be the best at at this position" as judged by the NHL GMs. If the voting had occurred at the end of February, Henrik Lundqvist would have been the hands down winner. As it was when the voting was actually done, it was probably a wide open race and may be the closest balloting of all the awards. I would have to go with the homer pick of Pekka Rinne since the Preds wouldn't have made the playoffs without him but I think that Lundquist may have had the votes to hang on for the win.
Henrik Lundqvist W
Pekka Rinne *
Many folks have stated that Erik Karlsson should be the winner based on the season that he had with an over-achieving Ottawa Senators team. I think Karlsson will finish a close second to the Predators' Shea Weber who will finally claim the Norris this year as a defenseman who can dominate the game at both ends of the ice.
Shea Weber * W
Statistically, all three nominees were in a dead heat as far as points were concerned and each appears to have the ability to improve in future seasons. Adam Henrique had his coming out party with the Devils during the playoffs but that is not a consideration for the Calder. Of the three, Gabriel Landeskog had the biggest impact on his team and will probably walk away with the trophy.
Gabriel Landeskog * W
Lady Byng Memorial Trophy
With Pavel Datsyuk not on the ballot this year, the voting will be a wide open affair. Picking a clear cut winner is impossible but I think Matt Moulson may be the winner. If I were voting, I would go with Brian Campbell since it appears no other Florida Panther will pick up any prizes in Vegas and they should receive something for the season they just completed.
Brian Campbell *
Matt Moulson W
David Backes and Patrice Bergeron both had excellent seasons but as long as Pavel Datsyuk is on the ballot, he will be the big winner and I agree and would be voting for him.
Pavel Datsyuk * W
Jack Adams Award
I was really surprised that Barry Trotz and Kevin Dineen did not make the final three. If I had voted, I would have voted for Dineen for taking the Panthers to the playoffs with a bunch of players that had not played together previously. Paul Maclean will receive plenty of support from the Canadian broadcasters but Ken Hitchcock will have wide ranging support and bring home the bacon. John Tortorella will finish third.
Ken Hitchcock W
Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy
The Masterton is a real crap shoot this year and any of the three nominations could win. I think that Max Pacioretty will rise to the top of the ballot and haul off the trophy.
Max Pacioretty * W
The Ted Lindsay Award differs from the Hart in that it is voted on by the players themselves and goes to the "most outstanding player." I would have to vote for Evgeni Malkin again but I think the players may reward Steven Stamkos for his 60 goals by giving him the award.
Messier Leadership Award
The Messier Leadership Award is an oddity among the trophies as it is voted on by Mark Messier himself. I have no idea who Messier will cast his vote for but in my opinion, the two best captains in the league are Dustin Brown and Shane Doan so I would split my vote between the two. With the Kings winning the Stanley Cup, that might tip Mark's choice toward Brown, so I will project him as the winner.
Dustin Brown * W
Shane Doan *
NHL Foundation Award
There is no way to pick this award as all have made major charitable contributions in their communities. In my book they are all winners but I have to take Mike Fisher as the hometown pick.
Mike Fisher * W
John-Michael Liles W
Matt Moulson W
GM of the Year
From a Smashville perspective, David Poile is the GM of the Year every year and this season was no different. Since the vote was taken before the playoffs, he will finally be named the winner for bringing in Hal Gill, Paul Gaustad, Alex Radulov, and for having all the homegrown talent continuing to emerge into the NHL and helping lead the Preds into the playoffs.
David Poile * W
NHL 13 Cover Vote
Finally, the fans of Smashville will really shine when it is announced that Pekka Rinne will grace the cover of NHL 13 when it is released in September.
Pekka Rinne * W
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass