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Thursday, January 19, 2006 

NHL Midseason Trophy Winners

As promised, here are my mid-season picks for the NHL awards, as compared to the picks I made before the season started. This post is very subjective (and took a long time!), so I welcome comments and critiques from everyone. Leave them below, and I'll try to address all of them. The whole reason to do this is for discussion, so please bring it on.

Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy
League Leader in Goals
Pre-Season Pick: Dany Heatley
Mid-Season Winner: Ilya Kovalchuk

Dany Heatley was my pick before the season started, because in combination with 2 of Ottawa's top guys helping to feed him the puck, he was a guaranteed 50 goal scorer, and another 50 assists as well, as I will mention below. How people thought Atlanta got the best of that deal will forever confuse me. He is, and will be for many years to come, a valid MVP candidate. Kovalchuk currently leads the way with 34 goals, followed closely by a surging Ovechkin at 32, and Gagne at 31. Heatley is fourth with 29. Going to the end of the season, the award could find itself residing with a rookie. His ability to put just about any puck in the net lately is baffling, and I see no reason why he'll finish the season with less than 60 goals, destroying the record for #1 draft picks in their rookie year. But Ilya could end up with 75, or with 55. It's hard to say, but I do know that I'm rooting for Ovechkin. He is the most fun rookie to watch since Lemieux, and will likely have a comparable career. Lets just hope we get a little more longevity out of his.

Lester B. Pearson Award
MVP As Voted By the Players Association
Pre-Season Pick: Dany Heatley
Mid-Season Winner: Bryan McCabe

Apparently before the season started I was on a huge Dany Heatley kick. His name will come up more than a few times in this process. Bryan McCabe is the leafs team. He is well liked by the players, feared by opposing defenses on the power play, and has controlled the Leafs fate this season. He is the first half MVP, as no one has been as valuable to a playoff team as him. The fact that the Capitals are near the bottom of the stadings is a big reason why Ovechkin is only a runner up. Imagine that team without him. The same can be said for Palffy and McCabe, however, two scenarios which we are going to find out about now. These are two teams that are in a lot of trouble without their stars, which is the big reason they are in the MVP running for the first half. Season end will obviously see McCabe and Palffy fall from contention, paving the way for a random Ottawa player to steal the award. Hasek is having an outstanding season, but put my mom in net and the Sens still win 40 games. That doesnt make an MVP. Staal and Thornton will likely fight for MVP rights by the end of the year.

Frank J. Selke Trophy
Best Defensive Forward
Pre-Season Pick: Mike Knuble
Mid-Season Winner: Brenden Morrow

Mike Knuble has been the strongest defensive forward in the league for 3 seasons now, so I don't feel I need to justify that pick. Brenden Morrow, on the other hand, is probably way off everyones radar for this award, but bare with me here. Most people would argue Modano for this award if you're looking at a Dallas player, but given the choice of battling Mike or Brenden for a puck, or trying to go around or through one, which would you pick? Morrow is a lot more willing to stand his ground at any cost, and had been doing an excellent job of it this year. He'll always come back, and knows what he's doing when he does. You can't argue with that kind of performance, it's more that Chris Pronger can say for himself defensively, and he's supposed to be a defenseman. Runner ups are Brian Rolston, Mike Knuble and Mike Modano.

Jack Adams Award
Coach of the Year
Pre-Season Pick: Randy Carlyle
Mid-Season Winner: Lindy Ruff

Lindy Ruff has done way too much with way too little. There is no other explanation than him for the Sabres success, and it's really no surprise. He has been coaching Buffalo since 1997, and in that time has had a better than .500 record with a complete lack of talent outside of the crease. He gets a strong effort out of every player every night. Hands down winner, with special mention also to Tom Renney for doing something other coaches have failed to do: get Jaromir Jagr to seem interested in playing day-in and day-out. We'll see how long he's able to weave that magic. Ruff hangs on to this award by season-end.

King Clancy Memorial Trophy
On and Off Ice Leadership
Pre-Season Pick: Mark Messier
Mid-Season Winner: Mark Messier

Leadership of his godly levels survives retirement. He will be the true, and only leader forever. I only hope to one day bask in such leadership. Feel free to donate money to my cause: The Send Kent to Messier Leadership Camp Fund. Paypal your donations to CSULBHockey@netscape.net. We thank you in advance for your kindness. With your help, one day this dream will come true.

Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy
Perserverence and Dedication to Hockey
Pre-Season Pick: Patrick Elias
Mid-Season Winner: Patrick Elias

This award always goes to someone coming off of an injury of some sort. If there is a disease involved then it is a mortal lock. Elias was bound to both come back, and to dominate at some point during the year. The award was, and is, obviously his. Take it to the bank... just not the blood bank if Elias is involved.

William M. Jennings Trophy
Goalies on Team with Fewest Goals Against
Pre-Season Pick: Dominik Hasek
Mid-Season Winner: Domink Hasek/Ray Emery

Emery is on pace to just play the 26 games played needed to qualify for this award. And that is the only surprise here. The Patrick Roy trophy is on its way back to Hasek this year. Mikka Kiprusoff is currently in second, with the NHL's dynamic dup of Rolloson/Fernandez in third.

Vezina Trophy
Outstanding Goalkeeper
Pre-Season Pick: Dominik Hasek
Mid-Season Winner: Dominik Hasek

As is true about the Dominik Hasek award. From the moment he signed with Ottawa on, this one was a lock in my books. There was no denying Hasek his 7th career Vazina trophy, to tie him with Jacques Plantes for the all time record. Manny Fernandez leads the league in GAA and Save %, but splits duty with the Dwayner and has only played in 28 games. A fact which has kept his name from serious Vezina consideration ever since the Dynamic Duo was first put together. Legace and Miller each had Vezina-like years, until their injuries, making Kiprusof and Fernandez the actual runners-up.

Conn Smythe Trophy
Playoffs MVP
Pre-Season Pick: Dominik Hasek
Mid-Season Prediction: Daniel Alfredson

Hasek looked to be primed to carry the Sens to the Cup this year, but the way the Sens have played they really don't need him. All things equal, Alfy then deserves the award. He has been this teams leader right from the start, and suffered through all the adversity placed upon him because of it. This is finaly his year, and he will lead this team through the playoffs and right to the Conn Smythe. Hasek and Heatley are the other likely candidates. I won't even bother to speculate on any other teams winning the Cup.

Calder Memorial Trophy
Rookie of the Year
Pre-Season Pick: Sidney Crosby
Mid-Season Winner: Alex Ovechkin

Crosby was probably everybody's pre-season front-runner, but Vechky quickly took control. The race was somewhat close for a while, but in the last month and a half Alex has shown he is already in a class above Crosby. Have you heard anyone mention Crosby's name in MVP talks? Not likely. This is the clear difference between their rookie campaigns. Ovechkin is the rookie of the year, and the vote shouldn't be close with Crosby. At this point I would put the race for runner up in this order: 2. Lundqvist (2.19 and .924 in a rookie campaign on a team that has looked horrible in recent years. Really, he is the only one who could give Ovechkin a run for his money. His name should come up in some Vezina talk) 3. Meszaros (+31 in 44 games? Are you kidding me?) 4. Crosby 5. Svatos 6. Michalek 7. Phaneuf 8. Steen 9. Tyutin 10. Seabrook That is 10 solid guys who would be deserving of the award in any other year. And I didnt even mention Vanek, Prucha, Boyes, Wellwood, Vorobiev, Whitney, Ouellet, et Al. I have never seen a rookie crop like this years. It is the stuff that dreams are made of, and should give us all an over-abundance of hope for the future of the league. It has been an exciting year.

Lady Byng Memorial Trophy
Biggest Pussy
Pre-Season Pick: Pavel Datsyuk
Mid-Season Winner: Brad Richards

Who cares?


James Norris Memorial Trophy
Best Defenseman
Pre-Season Pick: Wade Redden
Mid-Season Winner: Bryan McCabe

Wade Redden is strong defensively, and offensively, and being on a team that was such a clear front-runner for the Cup made him the early favourite. Bryan McCabe's plus/minus might not be up there with the runner ups, but that is understandable since it is on special teams where Bryan excels. He leads all defenseman in power play goals with 10, power play points with 31, and short handed points with 4. Not only that, but he is the Leafs power play. He controls the flow of games, is the clear team leader, and is the only reason the Leafs are in the playoff race. Hands down he has made the biggest difference on any teams blueline. Lubomir Visnovsky is a very close second, and will likely battle Wade Redden for the award by the end of the year, as McCabe's injury seems more serious than first reported.

Hart Memorial Trophy
MVP
Pre-Season Pick: Dany Heatley
Mid-Season Winner: Bryan McCabe

This is pretty much the same as the Lester B Pearson award because I'm speaking in both cases. Add Jagr and Forsberg to Staal in the running when it isn't player votes, though, and take Thornton out. Hasek has a better shot at this one too. I'd like to see Eric Staal walk away with it, if not just because he's the leader of my fantasy team. He also plays a better all around game than the others, and hopefully that will push him over the top.

Art Ross Trophy
League Leader in Points
Pre-Season Pick: Dany Heatley
Mid-Season Winner: Jaromir Jagr

The guaranteed 50 and 50 was enough for me to think Heatley would lead the league in both goals and points. Injuries to teammates have been, and will continue to slow him a bit, but he is fighting well in both categories. Jaromir Jagr currently has 69 points, followed by Kovalchuk at 66 and Thornton at 63. Heatley is in 6th with 60 points. Baring injury, I expect Kovalchuk to hold off Thornton for the league lead in the end. Jagr just doesn't have the mental capability to carry a team for an entire season. Unless mentally this is a new Jaromir, the Rangers will begin to falter shortly, along with Jagr's numbers.

Prince of Wales Trophy
Eastern Conference Champion
Pre-Season Pick: Ottawa Senators
Mid-Season Prediction: Ottawa Senators

This is, from here on, the Ottawa Senators section. There has been more than enough evidence, as well as explanation on my part, to be able to leave these sections without saying any more. Ottawa and Detroit are the class of the league. They looked that way before the season started, and have proved it so in the first half. In a 7 game series there is no competing with these teams, and Ottawa likely takes Detroit in 6 in the finals. All that fire power on these two teams, along with Hasek and Legace in net. It will be an exciting series, and I hope we get to see it. We waited long enough for a Stanley Cup Final, it might as well blow us away. If only Ovechkin could be involved somehow.

Clarence S. Campbell Bowl
Western Conference Champion
Pre-Season Pick: Detroit Red Wings
Mid-Season Prediction: Detroit Red Wings




Presidents' Trophy
Best Regular Season Record
Pre-Season Pick: Ottawa Senators
Mid-Season Winner: Ottawa Senators




Stanley Cup
League Champs
Pre-Season Pick: Ottawa Senators
Mid-Season Prediction: Ottawa Senators

your comments for the "lady byng memorial trophy" make me laugh...heck, i'm still laughing! way too funny...

laughed a few times at your comments too...and picks!

Hossa is way better than Heatley, you dumbass. get a clu.

The moose's camp would be great. i have always wanted to go.

You are very high on McCabe. God knows why, he is one of the worst defencemen in the NHL. He is a powerplay specialist and that is all. Only reason that has come about is he has learned how to hit the net with his shot. Took him a few years though. Chara is getting the Norris. Vezina is going to Kipper and Lester B. Pearson Award, Hart probably too. He keeps that team respectable. Just to note, I'm not a Flames fan and hate the guy, but I think he is going to take those awards. As for the Sens winning the cup...not going to happen. I'm still going out on a limb and picking Vancouver.

It's Ovechkin all the way!

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