My Picks for the 2019 NHL Awards
With the St. Louis Blues winning the Stanley Cup, another NHL season has come to an end. Before the off-season business of trading and signing established players and drafting prospects begin the league must hand out its player awards.
The 2019 NHL Awards is Wednesday, June 19 in Las Vegas. Here’s a look at the nominees for the major awards and my picks for each. Feel free to weigh in with your views in the comments section below.
Hart Trophy (most valuable player to his team): Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins; Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning; Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers.
I give the nod to McDavid. Crosby and Kucherov are worthy finalists but also play on talented clubs that could survive if they were sidelined for lengthy periods. While the Oilers didn’t reach the playoffs this season with McDavid he gave them a fighting chance. No player was more valuable to his team this season. Without McDavid, the Oilers are nothing.
Vezina Trophy (Best Goaltender): Ben Bishop, Dallas Stars; Robin Lehner, New York Islanders; Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning.
Bishop and Vasilevskiy have been finalists before while this is Lehner’s first nod. It’s a tough call but I believe Bishop should get the Vezina this year. He was outstanding between the pipes for the Stars this season. Without his efforts, they probably don’t reach the 2019 playoffs. You can say the same about Lehner with the Islanders. Like I said, tough call, but I’m sticking with Bishop.
Norris Trophy (Best Defenseman): Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks; Mark Giordano, Calgary Flames; Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning.
Burns (2017) and Hedman (2018) are previous winners but Giordano gets my vote. The 35-year-old Flames captain is consistently among the league’s best blueliners but rarely gets recognized. He led all blueliners in plus-minus (plus-39) and finished second in scoring with 74 points. He also led the Flames in ice time (24:14 TOI per game) and tallied four shorthanded goals.
Selke Trophy (Best Defensive Forward): Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins; Ryan O’Reilly, St. Louis Blues; Mark Stone, Vegas Golden Knights.
Bergeron is line for a record-setting fifth Selke Trophy and will probably win it. O’Reilly is coming off an outstanding season and would also be a worthwhile winner. However, I’d like to see Stone take home this award. I’ve long felt he’s been underrated as a defensive forward and deserves his place among the best.
Calder Trophy (Best rookie): Jordan Binnington, St. Louis Blues; Rasmus Dahlin, Buffalo Sabres: Elias Pettersson, Vancouver Canucks.
Binnington’s goaltending played a big role in the Blues’ stunning turnaround this season. Unlike Pettersson and Dahlin, however, he only played half a season. Pettersson led the Canucks and all NHL rookies in scoring throughout 2018-19. That makes him rookie of the year in my book.
Lady Byng Trophy (Most gentlemanly player): Aleksander Barkov, Florida Panthers; Sean Monahan, Calgary Flames; Ryan O’Reilly, St. Louis Blues.
O’Reilly won the award in 2013-14 and was runner-up last season. This is Monahan’s first time as a Byng Finalist. It’s Barkov’s third time in four years as a finalist and he could win it this time around. His clean style of play makes him one of the league’s top forwards.
Masterton Trophy (Perseverance): Nick Foligno, Columbus Blue Jackets; Robin Lehner, New York Islanders; Joe Thornton, San Jose Sharks
All three are worthy finalists but Lehner is my winner. He overcame addiction issues and got his career back on track with a Vezina-worthy performance this season.
Jack Adams Award (Coach of the Year): Craig Berube, St. Louis Blues; Jon Cooper, Tampa Bay Lightning; Barry Trotz, New York Islanders.
Berube took over a Blues team given up for dead in November and coached them into the playoffs. The voting was conducted at the end of the regular season, so his club’s championship run doesn’t factor into it. Regardless, his work in turning around the Blues cannot be overlooked.
General Manager of the Year: Doug Armstrong, St. Louis Blues; Don Sweeney, Boston Bruins; Don Waddell, Carolina Hurricanes.
Waddell is my pick for what should be called the Sam Pollock Trophy. His offseason acquisitions of Dougie Hamilton, Micheal Ferland, Calvin de Haan, Petr Mrazek, and Curtis McElhinney and in-season pickup Nino Niederreiter helped the Hurricanes reach the playoffs for the first time in a decade.