And the winner should be ...

March, 12, 2010

My colleague Scott Burnside and I debated the Hart Trophy race in this week's Friday Faceoff, so I figured I'd fill in the blanks on the rest of the NHL hardware with 32 days left on the regular-season schedule.

As a member of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association, the body which votes on most of the NHL awards, I look forward to once again filling out my official ballot for many of these trophies in a few weeks. In the meantime, you'll get a pretty significant foreshadowing of my voting tendencies here today:


Norris Trophy

Voters: PHWA; Last year's winner: Boston's Zdeno Chara.

Our 2010 candidates: Mike Green, Washington; Duncan Keith, Chicago; Drew Doughty, Los Angeles; Chris Pronger, Philadelphia; Nicklas Lidstrom, Detroit; Dan Boyle, San Jose.

The skinny: Chara has had an off-year like many of his Bruins teammates. Lidstrom has been dynamite in the second half, but it might be too late for the old goat to make a charge in voting. I think it's a three-man race between Green, Keith and, my favorite defenseman in the NHL, young Mr. Doughty. I give Green a ton of credit for the way he's rebounded from a poor playoff last spring; he leads all blueliners in points as usual, but also has a staggering plus-31 rating. Keith, in my mind, has been the engine that has driven the powerhouse Blackhawks, as his career-high 59 points is also accompanied with a tidy plus-21 rating. Doughty? He'll win a bunch of these trophies before his career is out, but it might be a tad early this season.

Our winner: Keith. The Olympic gold medalist is second in the NHL in ice time with 26:40 per game, and a true workhorse whose effectiveness at both ends of the rink earns him his first career Norris. At least from


Vezina Trophy

Voters: NHL's 30 GMs; Last year's winner: Boston's Tim Thomas.

Our candidates: Ryan Miller, Buffalo; Miikka Kiprusoff, Calgary; Ilya Bryzgalov, Phoenix; Evgeni Nabokov, San Jose; Martin Brodeur, New Jersey; Roberto Luongo, Vancouver; Craig Anderson, Colorado; Jimmy Howard, Detroit.

The skinny: Last season's three nominees were Thomas, Minnesota's Nicklas Backstrom and Columbus' Steve Mason, so we'll have three new faces there this year. But let's be honest, this is the easiest call for this year's NHL awards: Miller in a severe landslide. Kiprusoff has had one of his better seasons in a while, and the Flames needed it to stay afloat in the playoff race. Luongo has been huge since his usual October struggles (although he was hooked three times on the Canucks' recent 14-game road trip). And how do you ignore what Anderson has done in Denver?

Our winner: Miller. Leads the NHL in save percentage and goals-against average and will make it back-to-back years for U.S.-born goalies to win the Vezina.


Calder Trophy

Voters: PHWA; Last year's winner: Columbus' Steve Mason.

Our candidates: Matt Duchene, Colorado; John Tavares, New York Islanders; Tyler Myers, Buffalo; Jimmy Howard, Detroit; Niclas Bergfors, Atlanta; Tuukka Rask, Boston.

The skinny: Duchene has pulled away from Tavares in the rookie scoring race and he's done it while playing in pressure-packed, meaningful games. Myers has been a rock all season long on the Sabres' blue line, at both ends of the ice. Howard has emerged as an elite netminder in the NHL just when Detroit needed it the most.

Our winner: Duchene. We've supported Myers all season long, but the Avs center has put on a strong second-half surge. Flip a coin between them; they're both equally deserving.


Selke Trophy

Voters: PHWA; Last year's winner: Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk.

Our candidates: Ryan Kesler, Vancouver; Jonathan Toews, Chicago; Datsyuk, Detroit; Jordan Staal, Pittsburgh; Joe Pavelski, San Jose; Frans Nielsen, New York Islanders.

The skinny: I know Nielsen sticks out like a sore thumb, but credit James Mirtle of the Toronto Globe and Mail for pointing out earlier this season through some mathematical research that the Islanders forward is rarely ever on the ice for a goal. His plus-12 rating leads the Islanders and is the only plus-minus rating in double-digits on the team. But he's not going to win the Selke. My guess is it'll be a three-man race between Toews, Datsyuk and Kesler, with all three having compelling cases.

Our winner: Datsyuk. The two-time reigning Selke winner cannot be denied when you consider he leads the NHL with a whopping 102 takeaways. Kesler is second with 68. Mind-boggling.


Jack Adams Award

Voters: NHL Broadcasters' Association; Last year's winner: Boston's Claude Julien.

Our candidates: Joe Sacco, Colorado; Dave Tippett, Phoenix; Terry Murray, Los Angeles; Joel Quenneville, Chicago; Bruce Boudreau, Washington; Barry Trotz, Nashville; Mike Babcock, Detroit; Alain Vigneault, Vancouver; Todd McLellan, San Jose.

The skinny: I say this every year, but basically all 16 head coaches whose teams make the playoffs deserve a look. They've all done a great job in getting their clubs to where they are. But this season, the one-two punch atop the leaderboard is clear with Tippett and Sacco after getting their teams where no one ever thought they could possibly be. You might be surprised to see Babcock's name on our list, but I think he's done his best coaching in a long time just to keep the injury-ravaged Wings alive in the first two-thirds of the season.

Our winner: Tippett. Not only were his Coyotes picked by almost every pundit to finish last this season, but Tippett wasn't even with the team when training camp opened in September thanks to the confusion that reigned with the once-bankrupt team. Coming in late and getting his players to focus and overachieve? He's hands down the NHL's coach of the year.

Pierre LeBrun

ESPN Senior Writer




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