Fearless NHL award predictions

We have looked into our crystal ball and found some NHL hardware for next June. Here's how we see it unfolding:

Hart Trophy

Sidney Crosby deservedly captured his second NHL MVP award last season after putting together a sensational regular season. The fact that the Penguins were hammered by injuries cemented his Hart case. And that's just the interesting thing about this award: It's not meant to go to the player who had the best season, but rather the player who was most valuable to his team's success.

That's an important distinction, and probably why Crosby has won only two Hart Trophies even though he's been the best player in the world for several years. When Evgeni Malkin is healthy (he missed 22 games last season) it tends to hurt Crosby's MVP case. And vice versa for Malkin. Just as Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane hamper each other's chances as well.

With that in mind, I'm going with Steven Stamkos as my Hart prediction for the 2014-15 season. With Martin St. Louis gone, this is Stamkos' team now more than ever. This is going to be a monster season for a healthy Stamkos and Hart Trophy consideration will come with it.

Our pick: Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning
Sleeper potential: Jamie Benn, Dallas Stars

Norris Trophy

It's a great time in the NHL for quality, high-end blueliners. Any of a group including Drew Doughty, Shea Weber, Erik Karlsson, P.K. Subban, Zdeno Chara, Duncan Keith, Ryan Suter, Alex Pietrangelo, Ryan McDonagh and Oliver Ekman-Larsson could win the Norris this season. They all have legitimate chances if all goes well. To me, it comes down to a 1-2 toss-up between Doughty and Weber, the latter having come close to winning the Norris but still awaiting a victory. Weber has better weapons around him this season in Nashville, and perhaps that will help. Here's hoping Doughty avoids a slow start and puts together a wire-to-wire campaign the PHWA voters can't ignore.

Our pick: Doughty, Los Angeles Kings
Sleeper potential: Marc-Edouard Vlasic, San Jose Sharks

Vezina Trophy

The NHL's 30 GMs vote on the Vezina and they were dead-on last season handing Tuukka Rask his first Vezina. Rask was the most consistent goalie from start to finish in the regular season. He did, however, get outdueled in the second round of the playoffs by Carey Price. Which brings me to my next point: It's time for the reigning Olympic gold-medal netminder to collect his first Vezina.

Our pick: Price, Montreal Canadiens
Sleeper potential: Cory Schneider, New Jersey Devils

Calder Trophy

I'm torn between two kids who are going to have fantastic careers: Jonathan Drouin and John Gibson. Both have issues that could hurt their Calder campaigns, though. Drouin missed all of the preseason with a broken thumb, putting him behind the eight-ball in terms of getting up to speed in his first NHL season. How long will it take for him to feel comfortable? In Gibson's case, you wonder whether he will start enough games as he battles Frederik Andersen for the No. 1 job in Anaheim to warrant consideration. I'm betting on the latter.

Our pick: Gibson, Anaheim Ducks
Sleeper potential: Jiri Sekac, Montreal

Art Ross Trophy

Should be a fun race between the likes of Stamkos, Crosby, Malkin, Alex Ovechkin, John Tavares, Patrick Kane and Ryan Getzlaf, among others. However, our money stays on the tried and true again this season. Crosby is hungry to erase the bad memories of last spring's playoffs.

Our pick: Crosby
Sleeper potential: Tyler Seguin, Dallas

Rocket Richard Trophy

It comes down to two obvious picks in either Stamkos or Ovechkin. Might Ovechkin sacrifice a few goals in order to become a better all-around player this season under new head coach Barry Trotz?

Our pick: Stamkos
Sleeper potential: Taylor Hall, Edmonton