Our picks for this season's NHL awards
The NHL will reveal this season's award winners tonight at its annual black-tie, bad-joke extravaganza tonight in Toronto. Here's a look at the nominees and who should win the hardware.
Hart Memorial Trophy
• Finalists: Martin Brodeur, Sidney Crosby, Roberto Luongo
What a great field. You can certainly make a case for all three, especially given that the award isn't for the league's MVP but for the player judged to be most valuable to his own team (a subtle distinction, but a distinction nonetheless). In our view, the impact 19-year-old Crosby had on the youthful Penguins, taking them to the playoffs at least a year ahead of schedule, should land him his first Hart Trophy to go with his first scoring title. Winner: Crosby.
|The NHL announced finalists Tuesday for its major awards, including the Hart Trophy, which recognizes the league's most valuable player. Winners will be announced June 14 in Toronto.|
Calder Memorial Trophy
• Finalists: Evgeni Malkin, Jordan Staal, Paul Stastny
Stastny, son of Hall of Famer Peter Stastny, made a significant case for himself with his late-season surge, which included a rookie-record 20-game point streak. Still, the overall play of Malkin in helping the Penguins to the playoffs will keep the Russian wonder at the top of the rookie heap. Winner: Malkin.
Frank J. Selke Trophy
• Finalists: Rod Brind'Amour, Samuel Pahlsson, Jay Pandolfo
The Selke sometimes gets misconstrued because a player's points totals get thrown into the mix as opposed to the focus being solely on his defensive play. That said, these are three top-notch two-way players and all are worthy of consideration. But, in our view, the rise of the Anaheim Ducks as a complete team suggests the nod should go to the unheralded Pahlsson. Winner: Pahlsson.
Jack Adams Award
• Finalists: Lindy Ruff, Michel Therrien, Alain Vigneault
The tendency is to give this award to the coach who does more with less. That explains the presence of Therrien and Vigneault, coaches who did better after getting fired by the Canadiens. But we like Ruff to win back-to-back coach of the year awards. He not only kept his high-scoring team on the rails after a long playoff run last season, but he also actually made them better. The Sabres won their first Presidents' Trophy despite a rash of potentially crippling injuries down the stretch. Winner: Ruff.
James Norris Memorial Trophy
• Finalists: Nicklas Lidstrom, Scott Niedermayer, Chris Pronger
This may be the most closely contested category of all the awards. Had Pronger not missed 16 games because of injury, the decision might not have been so difficult. But he did. So we like the consistent excellence delivered by Anaheim teammate Niedermayer to make the difference and give the smooth-skating defender his second Norris Trophy in three NHL seasons (he won in 2004 and was a finalist last season). Winner: Niedermayer.
Lady Byng Memorial Trophy
• Finalists: Joe Sakic, Martin St. Louis, Pavel Datsyuk
We must admit, the Lady Byng is the least endearing of all the awards because the connotation is that nominees are, well, less manly. That's bunk, of course, as the list of finalists shows. That said, ladies and gentlemen, we give you gentleman Joe Sakic. Winner: Sakic.
• Finalists: Brodeur, Luongo, Miikka Kiprusoff, Henrik Lundqvist
This one is so close, they couldn't cut the list of finalists at three. This is really a two-man race between Brodeur and Luongo. Despite Luongo's torrid finish to the season, we give the nod to Brodeur, whose record-setting season (he bested Bernie Parent's single-season win total with 48, along with a league-best 12 shutouts) was a thing of beauty. Winner: Brodeur.
Lester B. Pearson Award
• Finalists: Crosby, Luongo, Vincent Lecavalier
This is the award that really tells the truth about the league's most valuable player because it's voted on by the players themselves. It'll be interesting to see if the perception that Crosby is a bit of a whiner hurts him (obviously it didn't hurt enough to keep him off the ballot). We think not. Winner: Crosby.
Scott Burnside is the NHL writer for ESPN.com.