ON THE STRENGTH of his 104-point season, Penguins center Sidney Crosby likely skated away with his second Hart Trophy. But plenty of other hockey hardware is still up for grabs. To handicap the four other major player awards, which will be revealed in Las Vegas on June 24, we canvassed a panel of experts and analyzed the races using both the eye test (with help from a Western Conference scout) and advanced stats.
Best Defensive Forward
ESPN Forecast* says Patrice Bergeron, Bruins
The scout says Marian Hossa, Blackhawks
"He's still a stud. People get on him for not putting as many points on the board as before, but he's a force on the defensive side of the puck. He has the size, strength and skating ability to apply his defensive skills against the league's best players."
The stats say Anze Kopitar, Kings
The ultimate two-way forward, Kopitar is one of the NHL's top puck-possession players. The Slovenian center had the third-best GF percentage (goals for/goals for + goals against) at five-on-five among all skaters, according to ExtraSkater.com:
Rookie of the Year
ESPN Forecast says Nathan MacKinnon, Avalanche
The scout says MacKinnon
"He's a difference maker every time he steps onto the ice because of his high-end skating ability, which is a real weapon. He energizes the crowd and his teammates with his warp speed and his drive to win. A very rare and special player."
The stats say MacKinnon
Colorado's kid wonder led first-year players in goals, assists and points. MacKinnon was also third best in the league in penalty plus/minus, with 19 more drawn than taken, according to Hockey Prospectus:
Matt Duchene, COL: 24
Tyler Sequin: 21
ESPN Forecast says Tuukka Rask, Bruins
The scout says Semyon Varlamov, Avalanche
"Varlamov has been rock-solid in net from start to finish, and he played through a difficult off-ice issue [assault charges that were later dropped]. The Avs exceeded expectations by a wide margin, and his performance was a big reason."
The stats say Rask
The Bruins goaltender was almost impenetrable at five-on-five. His even-strength save percentage, a purer measure of a goalie's ability than team-dependent goals-against average or overall save percentage, was tops in the NHL per ExtraSkater.com:
Carey Price, MTL: .934
ESPN Forecast says Duncan Keith, Blackhawks
The scout says Zdeno Chara, Bruins
"He may be slowing down a little bit at age 37, but even at 80 or 90 percent of where he used to be, Chara can still impact the game in so many different ways. He deserves much of the credit for his team's success the past few seasons."
The stats say Alex Pietrangelo, Blues
He played more than half of the Blues' special-teams minutes and was the NHL's top blueliner (along with Nashville's Shea Weber) per goals vs. threshold (GVT**) and among the best at DGVT.
Pietrangelo: DGVT: 8.9 / GVT: 17.6
Weber: DGVT: 5.6 / GVT: 17.6
Keith DGVT: 6.1 / GVT: 17.2
*The ESPN Forecast panel consists of 33 experts who cover the NHL. Voters ranked their top three picks, with a 5-3-1 scoring system. SEE the complete voting results at ESPN.COM/NHL.
**Per hockey Prospectus, The value of a player, in goals, above what a replacement player would have contributed. Defensive GVT (DGVT) Tracks a player's worth at shot suppression.