Quarterly Review: Projected NHL Trophies

NHL Awards Presentation

With Atlanta playing their 20th game last night, the first quarter of the 2009-2010 season is officially over.  Seeing as this is a milestone within the season we thought it would be a good idea to discuss the trends emerging around the NHL.

The article’s intent is to show who would win the NHL awards if the season finished today.  Of course these players will most likely NOT win the awards, NHLHS just likes having fun with small sample sizes and hot streaks.

Whether it be injury or inability there are plenty of surprises when compared to preseason predictions.  Teams such as the Colorado Avalanche, Los Angeles Kings and the Buffalo Sabres find themselves at the top of the standings, surprising most pundits.

We will outline the NHL trophies and why we think these players as of right now are deserving of them.  In addition, we will include the projected nominees so you can see our train of thought.  We hope you enjoy this mini-series which should continue throughout the NHL season.

Click the link below to see our award winners and tell us what you think in the comments section!

Here are the 2009-2010 NHL Award Winners:

Hart Trophy – awarded to the player judged best in the League.

The nominees are…

  1. G – Ryan Miller, Buffalo Sabres
  2. C – Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings
  3. C – Joe Thornton, San Jose Sharks

When looking at the Standings it is clear that the players chosen play a pivotal part in their team’s success.

Miller vaulted himself into elite status with his work this season.  Almost impossible to keep up this pace, the 29-year-old only lost three games in regulation.  His 1.97 GAA ranks first amongst his peers and his .931 SV% second to only Antero Niittymaki.  Even more impressive with star players Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek struggling at times the Sabres still find themselves at the top of their Division.

Similar to Miller, Kopitar thrived from the influx of veteran forwards on his line.  Lining up with Justin Williams and Ryan Smyth the 22-year-old leads the NHL in points putting the Kings tied for fourth in the Conference.  Time will tell if the Yugoslavian native can keep up his pace but for now he is a legitimate MVP candidate.

Former winner Joe Thornton rounds out the list.  Teaming with Dany Heatley and more recently Patrick Marleau would boost anyones statistics, but Big Joe is right in the middle of things.  Trailing only Kopitar in points, the former first overall pick should keep the scoring lead tight.

Miller, see above.

NHLHS Pick: Ryan Miller

The supporting cast on the Sabres simply does not match up with the Sharks or even the Kings.  Miller is the antithesis of a MVP, a player that would be irreplaceable to his team.

Vezina Trophy – awarded to the top goalie in the League.

The nominees are…

  1. Ilya Bryzgalov, Phoenix Coyotes
  2. Evgeni Nabokov, San Jose Sharks
  3. Ryan Miller, Buffalo Sabres

Bryzgalov plays a huge part in his teams turnaround.  Boasting a 12-6-1 record with three shutouts, the Russian is amongst the league leaders with a 2.04 GAA and .922 SV% in his 19 games.  The quick turnaround in Phoenix could falter throughout the year removing the former Duck from contention, however for now he is right in the mix.

Nabokov makes a strong case for the trophy with his impressive work.  He has been an absolute workhorse for his new coach starting all but three games.  Often working in back-to-back appearances the 34-year-old leads the league in wins at the quarter mark with 14.

NHLHS Pick:  Ryan Miller

Miller’s GAA and SV% give him a slight edge on his peers. His accolades are documented above, only time will tell if he can keep up this pace but as of now he is the NHL MVP and a shoe-in for the Vezina.

Norris Trophy – awarded to the top defenseman in the League.

The nominees are…

  1. Mike Green, Washington Capitals
  2. Chris Pronger, Philadelphia Flyers
  3. Dan Boyle, San Jose Sharks

Green follows his 30 goal season with only 3 so far.  Despite this drop in production he still finds himself the league leader in defensive scoring.  Playing on the powerplay with Alexander Ovechkin, Alexander Semin and Nicklas Backstrom would keep anyone’s point totals up but Green is just as dangerous of a threat.  He has solidified himself as a Norris candidate for years to come with his lethal shot from the point and excellent offensive instincts.

The Flyers get what they paid for in Pronger.  In what most predicted would be a match made in heaven, the well-known physical defenseman is likely to clear the crease by any means possible.  The veteran is on pace for 72 points a career-high.  More importantly he has solidified an already impressive defensive core bringing Matt Carle back to respectability.  His role as a bonafide number one allowed Philly to create the best second pairing in hockey with Kimmo Timmonen and Braydon Coburn making his case even stronger.

Boyle is another worthy candidate continuing his dominance with San Jose.  An excellent veteran presence on the ice and off, the former Stanley Cup winner is one pace for career highs.  If he can keep up this pace and the Sharks maintain their place in the Standings he makes a legitimate case for a Norris.

NHLHS Pick:  Chris Pronger

The difference he has made for the Philly blue-line is simply incredible.  Green’s defensive lapses keep him a notch below while Boyle’s supporting cast is too strong to single him out.

Calder Trophy – given to the rookie judged top in the League.

The nominees are…

  1. C – John Tavares, New York Islanders
  2. LW – James van Riemsdyk, Philadelphia Flyers
  3. C – Ryan O’Reilly, Colorado Avalanche

The lead candidate coming into the year, the first overall pick has not disappointed.  With 19 points in 23 games, the 19-year-old is on pace for 68 points an impressive total for any rookie.  Playing first line minutes for one of the worst teams in the NHL he should have plenty of opportunities to improve at the major league level.

JVR started the season off slowly but actually has a higher point-per-game ratio than Tavares.  The former 2nd overall pick took advantage of the injury to Simon Gagne and could eventually render him replaceable.  Playing large minutes on the left side should continue his torrid pace.

File O’Reilly in the suprise folder, as nobody expected the kid to make the team let alone play responsible and productive minutes.  The 33rd overall pick in this past draft has 15 points in his first 23 games putting him on pace for a respectable 50 point pace.  The younger O’Reilly brother figures to be a cornerstone on a newer, younger Avalanche team led by coach Joe Sacco.

NHLHS Pick: John Tavares

I give it to Tavares by a hair.  He produces more offense on his own unlike van Riemsdyk playing with elite centers.  Regardless, both players figure to be excellent for years to come.

Lady Byng Trophy – Given to the Leagues most gentlemanly player.

The nominees are…

  1. C – Brad Richards, Dallas Stars
  2. RW – Patrick Sharp, Chicago Blackhawks
  3. C – Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings

All three players are knotted at a whopping 2 PIMs the lone indicator I will be using are their average TOI.

NHLHS Pick: Pavel Datsyuk

Datsyuk edges Richards by 12 seconds a night.  No stranger to the Byng, Datsyuk continues to be an excellent defensive player with remarkable discipline.

Frank Selke Trophy – awarded to the top defensive forward.

The nominees are…

  1. LW – Zach Parise, New Jersey Devils
  2. LW – Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals
  3. LW – Dustin Penner, Edmonton Oilers

Parise leads the league in plus minus with 15 through the quarter mark.  Assuming an even bigger role on a successful Devils team the first-line left wing ranks tied for fifth in the league in points.  Not only is he a legitimate threat every time he steps on the ice he averages over 20 minutes of ice-time providing valuable minutes for his team.  He is a qualified candidate for the Selke at this point in the year and injury withstanding at the end of the year.

Interesting that Ovy would be in this category opposed to Hart Trophy consideration but his current injury has held him out of the scoring race.  Still the talented Russian ranks ninth in points and third in the league with a plus 10.  Not known for his defensive prowess, I feel it is an incredibly underrated part of his game and would not be surprised if he ever walked away with this award.

Penner has been an absolute monster this year.  Putting up 19 points in his first 14 games, the offer sheet signee vaulted himself into Selke contention.  Although not as solid a defender as his nominees his early season merits deserve some mention.

NHLHS Pick:  Zach Parise

Jack Adams Award – presented to the League’s best coach.

The nominees are…

  1. Dave Tippett, Buffalo Sabres
  2. Todd McLellan, San Jose Sharks
  3. Joe Sacco, Colorado Avalanche

Tippett really transformed a mediocre Coyotes team into what seems a legitimate contender.  Coming in for Wayne Gretzky in the preseason, the former Stars coach is making something out of nothing.  Sending down several top prospects to the AHL puts this team on a long-term plan, something they haven’t had in years.  When combining the shrewd moves of GM Don Maloney with the focused system of Tippett the Coyotes are much better than the past few years.

It came as a bit of a surprise when Red Wings assistant coach Todd McLellan was announced head coach of the Sharks.  Quickly implementing his system, the former Islander draft pick is enjoying a successful first year.  He has a talented team so the Sharks appearance on top of the Standings is not a surprise.  Will McLellan be the coach to finally lead this team deep into the playoffs?

Sacco is clearly the biggest surprise of the bunch.  Completely written off to start the season the Avalanche sit at the top of their Division as of this writing.  Regardless if they are the team most likely to drop out of the race, their efforts should be rewarded.  Nobody saw this team anywhere near contending giving Sacco well deserving mention in this column.

NHLHS Pick:  Dave Tippett

What he has done for the team on such short notice is simply amazing.  The Avalanche are fading after their fast start while the Sharks are expected to be in contention for the President’s Trophy.

Finally the awards decided by the numbers…

Presidents’ Trophy – San Jose Sharks
Art Ross Trophy – C – Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings
Maurice Richard Trophy – LW – Dany Heatley, San Jose Sharks
William J. Jennings Trophy – Antero Niittymaki, Tampa Bay Lightning

As always, we hope you enjoyed the articles.  Please take the time to visit our sponsors to the left and keep NHLHS alive.

Follow me on Twitter for up-to-the-minute updates.

-Alexander Monaghan
NHLHS Founder
thehotstove@gmail.com

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