Predictions For The 2018 NHL Awards Winners
The 2018 NHL Awards will be handed out in Las Vegas starting at 8 pm ET on June 20. Here’s a look at the nominees and my predictions for the winners.
Hart Trophy (MVP): Taylor Hall, New Jersey Devils; Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings; Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche.
They were instrumental helping their respective teams reach the playoffs after missing the cut last season. My pick is MacKinnon, who led these three in scoring and led the Avs from laughingstock status a year ago into the 2018 postseason.
Ted Lindsay Award (Best Player as voted by NHLPA members): Taylor Hall, New Jersey Devils; Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche; Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers.
As this is the players’ pick for MVP it’s hard to say who they’ll give the nod here. As McDavid won the scoring title despite skating on a non-playoff club, he could emerge as the winner. The Oilers were bad last season but were much worse when McDavid wasn’t on the ice.
Vezina Trophy (Best Goaltender): Connor Hellebuyck, Winnipeg Jets; Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators; Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning.
I’m going with Rinne here. Of these three, he put up better numbers (2.31 goals-against average, .927 save percentage) and tied with Vasilevskiy for the league league with eight shutouts. Not bad for a 35-year-old goalie.
Norris Trophy (Best Defenseman): Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings; Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning; P.K. Subban, Nashville Predators
Doughty and Subban are former Norris winners and deserving candidates, but I think this is Hedman’s year. With each passing season, the 27-year-old Swede continues to improve . He’s among the league’s elite all-around defensemen and the linchpin of the Lightning blueline.
Calder Memorial Trophy (Best Rookie): Mathew Barzal, New York Islanders; Brock Boeser, Vancouver Canucks; Clayton Keller, Arizona Coyotes.
With 85 points, Barzal led all rookies in scoring, finishing 20 points ahead of second-place Keller. He’s the favorite to win this one.
Frank J. Selke Trophy (Best Defensive Forward): Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins; Sean Couturier, Philadelphia Flyers; Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings
It would be nice to see Couturier get some long-overdue recognition for his defensive skills. Kopitar is a former winner and a worthy nominee this year. However, Bergeron’s among the very best two-way forwards of all time. He’s a four-time winner of this award and should pick up his record-setting fifth this year.
Lady Byng Trophy (Most gentlemanly player): Aleksander Barkov, Florida Panthers; William Karlsson, Vegas Golden Knights; Ryan O’Reilly, Buffalo Sabres.
Barkov totaled just 14 PIMs this season and Karlsson 12. O’Reilly, a previous Byng winner in 2013-14, had just 2 in his role as a two-way center. He’s my choice.
Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy (Dedication to Hockey): Brian Boyle, New Jersey Devils; Roberto Luongo, Florida Panthers; Jordan Staal, Carolina Hurricanes.
Luongo battled through injuries while Staal and his wife dealt with the death of their young son. Both deserve recognition for their perseverance, but Boyle seems a lock for this one. His return to action following a bout with a form of leukemia was among this season’s noteworthy stories.
Jack Adams Award (Best Coach): Jared Bednar, Colorado Avalanche; Bruce Cassidy, Boston Bruins; Gerard Gallant, Vegas Golden Knights.
Bednar and Cassidy did fine jobs coaching their teams into the playoffs, but this one goes to Gallant. The Golden Knights’ bench boss guided his expansion roster to a Pacific Division title, setting records for wins (51) and points (109) for a team in its inaugural season.
General Manager of the Year: Kevin Cheveldayoff, Winnipeg Jets; George McPhee, Vegas Golden Knights; Steve Yzerman, Tampa Bay Lightning
Cheveldayoff and Yzerman constructed two dominant rosters this season, but McPhee’s going to win this award. He built the greatest expansion roster in NHL history, finishing among this season’s top teams in the standings.
Remember, folks, the Adams Award and GM of the Year are based on regular-season performance. That’s why I didn’t mention the Golden Knights further confounding the experts by marching to the Stanley Cup Final.
Mark Messier Leadership Award: Deryk Engelland, Vegas Golden Knights; Wayne Simmonds, Philadelphia Flyers; Blake Wheeler, Winnipeg Jets.
Engelland gets this one. It’s one thing to be a leader on an established roster. It’s another to lead an expansion club to a division title.
King Clancy Memorial Trophy: Daniel and Henrik Sedin, Vancouver Canucks; P.K. Subban, Nashville Predators; Jason Zucker, Minnesota Wild
All four deserve recognition for their charity work. However, I think this one’s going to be a farewell honor to the Sedins, who announced their retirement at the end of the regular season.