Beginning Monday, the NHL will start to announce the nominees for the 2013 Regular Season Awards, beginning with the three Calder Trophy candidates. This comes on the heals of having members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association (myself included) submit our nominees in various categories just before the playoffs began. We were asked to provide five nominees in each category. For your enjoyment, here’s what I submitted, with a brief comment on why…
“To the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition”
1. Brandon Saad – Chicago Blackhawks
2. Brendan Gallagher – Montreal Canadiens
3. Jake Muzzin – LA Kings
4. Nail Yakupov – Edmonton Oilers
5. Jonas Brodin – Minnesota Wild
Comment: Saad was the runaway winner here. Gallagher would have possibly stolen my vote though if I saw him play live more. Just like there is an East Coast bias (and a West Coast bias), there is also the ‘eye test.’ Watch as many games as you want on TV, yet in hockey – more than any other sport – it’s important to see players live because so much of what a player does is off camera. Using that same reasoning, Muzzin was worthy of a nomination here – even if he likely won’t get much national attention. Purely looking at stats, he led the entire Kings team in plus-minus, as a rookie. He also contributed offensively and his coach had enough confidence in him to pair him with multiple partners up and down the defensive group – including on the top-pair with Drew Doughty.
“To the defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position”
1. PK Suban – Montreal Canadiens
2. Ryan Suter – Minnesota Wild
3. Drew Doughty – LA Kings
4. Kris Letang – Pittsburgh Penguins
5. Francois Beauchemin – Anaheim Ducks
Comment: Much has been made of Suter’s ice time in Minnesota this year, along with his having a rookie partner most of the year. That’s great. However, Suban is a more dynamic player. It’s really that simple. Doughty is also worthy of a comment here. While his point totals weren’t where he’d like them, he may have had his finest season yet, taking on a much more important defensive role. You also can’t discount what Beauchemin meant to the Anaheim Ducks this season.
LADY BYNG TROPHY
“To the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability”
1. Matt Moulson – NY Islanders
2. Ray Whitney – Dallas Stars
3. Patrick Kane – Chicago Blackhawks
4. Ryan Callahan – New York Rangers
5. Pavel Datsyuk – Detroit Red Wings
Comment: Moulson plays the game with pure class, as does Whitney. For the second year in a row Moulson was the second leading scorer on his team and posted single-digit penalty minutes. Whitney is just Whitney. At 40 years old he continues to produce offensively and has chosen to be a pure gentleman on and off the ice, rather than approach the game with that chip often found on the shoulders of players of his stature. In 32 games played this season Whitney had just four penalty minutes. Either of these two players would be a fine choice for the award, although Kane and Datsyuk will likely get much more attention from the pool of voters.
“To the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game”
1. Jonathan Toews – Chicago Blackhawks
2. Anze Kopitar – LA Kings
3. Pavel Datsyuk – Detroit Red Wings
4. Patrice Bergeron – Boston Bruins
5. David Backes – St. Louis Blues
Comment: One of the biggest debates surrounding this award generally is about if it should go to the best defensive ‘superstar’ or if it’s better served giving it to a third-line checking player. This year, there’s no doubt that Toews is the correct choice. He’s the best two-way player in the game. Kopitar is good, very good in fact. At the moment though, Toews is on another level.
“To the player adjudged to be the most valuable to his team”
1. Sergei Bobrovsky – Columbus Blue Jackets
2. John Tavares – New York Islanders
3. Alex Ovechkin – Washington Capitals
4. Jonathan Toews – Chicago Blackhawks
5. Sidney Crosby – Pittsburgh Penguins
Comment: Ovechkin and Crosby might be the best players in the world. However, the description asks for the player most valuable to his team. Bobrovsky was just that, earning nearly all of his team’s wins and nearly carrying them into the playoffs. He received a slight edge over Tavares here because he put the Blue Jackets on his back while still balancing the struggles of adjusting to his first year in a new city.
JACK ADAMS AWARD
“Adjudged to have contributed the most to his team’s success”
Members of the PHWA do not vote on this award. Instead, NHL broadcasters submit their list of nominees in the category. If asked for my opinion, Bruce Boudreau would be the winner. He took an Anaheim Ducks team that wasn’t even supposed to make the playoffs and guided them to the second best record in the Western Conference and third best in the NHL. In my book that’s more impressive than what Joel Quenneville did with a loaded Blackhawks roster.
Goaltender who is “adjudged to be the best at this position”
Again, members of the PHWA do not vote on this award, NHL General Managers are given the honor. If asked for an opinion, my vote would go to Bobrovsky. For the record, I also don’t subscribe to the theory that goalies can’t win the Hart Trophy because the Vezina is ‘their award.’
For more discussion on the 2013 nominees, we had The Fourth Period’s Dennis Bernstein on the MayorsManor show earlier this week, click here to lisen to that debate. Also, we discussed the Hart and Norris Trophies with Helene Elliott of the LA Times here.
So, what do you think?
Agree or disagree?
Would love to hear your feedback.
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