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Friday, May 05, 2006 

2006 NHL Award Nominees

The NHL released the complete list of award finalists on Thursday for the NHL awards ceremony on June 22 in Vancouver. As I'm sure you know by now, there was no way I was going to agree with their selections, so here now are the NHL nominees, my nominees, and who I think should/will win the awards.

Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy
League Leader in Goals
2006 Award Winner: Jonathan Cheechoo

This isn't one of the awards that's voted on, obviously, it's based on statistics. Against all odds, the man you all voted Rucchin of the Year came out of nowhere (some would say carried in the shadow of Joe Thornton) to pull ahead of Jagr in the end with 56 goals. Jagr finished in second place with 54, followed by Ovechkin and Kovalchuk tied for third with 52.

Lester B. Pearson Award
MVP As Voted By the Players Association
NHL Nominees: Jaromir Jagr, Alexander Ovechkin, Joe Thornton
SGN Nominees: Jaromir Jagr, Alexander Ovechkin, Joe Thornton

The main contenders for this award are Jaromir Jagr, whose Rangers slipped at the end of the season all the way to the #6 seed, Alex Ovechkin whose Capitals were out of the playoffs in early October, and Joe Thornton who took the Sharks from well out of the playoffs to one of the top 2 teams (along with the Ducks) in the west going into the playoffs. For this reason, among many others, he is the one and only MVP this year. Hands down. The Russian President was a close second, and may have won the award if his team made the playoffs, as he fell just short of the ultimate dream of having more goals (52) and assists (54) than anyone else on his team had points (Zubrus finished with 57). In the end Thornton wins easily.

Frank J. Selke Trophy
Best Defensive Forward
NHL Nominees: Rod Brind'Amour, Mike Fisher, Jere Lehtinen
SGN Nominees: Brenden Morrow, Mike Fisher, Martin Gelinas

These awards are always all over the place, and I don't think anyone ever really knows what they're based on in the end. That's why I'm pretty surprised that we had an overlap between my nominees and the actual NHL nominees at all. For that reason, obviously my pick for this award is Mike Fisher. If I were picking from my nominees, Morrow would be the man, as I know that personally I'd rather go in 1 on 1 against 90% of the defensemen in the league than on Morrow. Fisher's career year was a pretty close second, though, so I'm not too disappointed with his pick. Lehtinen wasn't even top three on his team in terms of this award this year. His inclusion was truly baffling. I really hate dinosaur picks based on their names alone. Morrow and Modano were leagues ahead of him this year, along with about 50 or more other players in the league. His selection was a huge slap in Morrow's face.

Jack Adams Award
Coach of the Year
NHL Nominees: Peter Laviolette (Car), Tom Renney (NYR), Lindy Ruff (Buf)
SGN Nominees: Mike Babcock (Det), Tom Renney (NYR), Lindy Ruff (Buf)

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. When the team was in trouble near the end of the season, he did what he had to, grabbed onto the Tucker incident and used it to propel the team again. You may or may not agree with what he said, but you can't argue with the results. 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. He managed to do it all year, even, but the slide to 6th will be enough to keep him from the award. Ruff hangs on to as predicted at mid-season. How Babcock got left off the ballot in taking a team to the Presidents Trophy, when people were openly questioning their ability to make the playoffs before the season started is beyond me. How quickly people forget their own ridiculous assumptions they made just 7 months ago.

King Clancy Memorial Trophy
On and Off Ice Leadership
NHL Nominees: Mark Messier, Mark Messier, Mark Messier
SGN Nominees: Mark Messier, Mark Messier, 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 continue donating 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
Perseverance and Dedication to Hockey
SGN 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. When he did come back, he turned around a team battling for the last playoff spot to the #3 seed. He elevated everyone's play, and scored as he is known to do. Had he played all year, he too would be in the MVP consideration. The award was, and is, obviously his.

William M. Jennings Trophy
Goalies on Team with Fewest Goals Against
2006 Award Winner: Miikka Kiprusoff

Kiprusoff rode Haseks injury, and some solid play down the stretch, to steal this award from the Hasek/Emery tandem. The Patrick Roy trophy appeared to be on its way back to Hasek this year, but the boring play of the Calgary Flames helped solidify this result. Luckily there won't be 4 rounds of watching them play this year, as the Ducks were the perfect first round opponant to take the boys down.

Vezina Trophy
Outstanding Goalkeeper
NHL Nominees: Martin Brodeur, Mikka Kiprusoff, Henrik Lundqvist
SGN Nominees: Manny Fernandez, Mikka Kiprusof, Manny Legace

It's somewhat surprising that we only agree on one of the three nominees here, but at least the one we agree on is the clear cut winner. I can see the argument for Lundqvists inclusion, but Brodeur in the regular season was not himself this year. His 2.57 GAA and .911 SV% were destroyed by Legace's 2.19 and .915, and Fernandez's 2.29 and .919. Overall, however, they were all overshadowed by one man, and as much as it pains me to say it, Mikka is the Vezina winner this year. There's no way around it.

Conn Smythe Trophy
Playoffs MVP
SGN Picks: Joe Thornton, Patrick Elias, Daniel Briere

The result of this one, obviously, will depend on who ends up with the real trophy to end the year. So far, these three players are head and shoulders over everyone else in their quests for the Conn. I know that I don't have to tell you just how excited I am to say that a first two picks. You've all pointed out my alleged "man-crushes" many times by this point, so you know.

Calder Memorial Trophy
Rookie of the Year
NHL Nominees: Sidney Crosby, Dion Phaneuf, Alex Ovechkin
SGN Nominees: Sidney Crosby, Henrick Lundqvist, Alex Ovechkin

So here it is, the award with the nominations that you knew would bother me the most. And you're right - it's killing me. How the hell did Phaneuf get the third nomination? He is not great on defense, and most of his game out of the offensive zone is just cheating. On the other hand, Lundqvist did enough to be nominated for the Vezina. So what happened here? Well, the media was in desperate need of a new Chris Pronger, and did they ever find one. I've never seen someone so undeservedly built up in the media. It's actually worse than Chris Pronger's MVP season at this point, because quite frankly he wasn't even close to being the best rookie defenseman in the league. Meszaros looked like a seasoned veteran, while Phaneuf made mistake upon mistake in the defensive end, and ended up with a plus minus 29 points lower than Mesz's. It's just not right what kind of power the media has when they make their decisions about stuff. Long live the New Prong!

Oh yeah, as for the winner, Crosby was probably everybody's pre-season front-runner, but Vechky quickly took control. 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, but Crosby's run to nearly catch Alex in scoring will make the vote a close one. As for the battle for runner up, Lundqvist, Meszaros (a defenseman at +34 in a rookie season is ridiculous), Svatos and Crosby would easily be winners in any other season. That's not to mention Michalek, Steen, Tyutin, Seabrook, Vanek, Prucha, Boyes, Wellwood, Vorobiev, Whitney, Ouellet, et Al. I have never seen a rookie crop like this years. Nothing but great hope for the future here (ignoring my future struggle with the media over the New Prong, that is).

Lady Byng Memorial Trophy
Biggest Pussy
NHL Nominees: Pavel Datsyuk, Patrick Marleau, Brad Richards
SGN Nominees: Pavel Datsyuk, Brad Richards, Steve Rucchin

Who cares? (Rucchin was robbed!)

James Norris Memorial Trophy
Best Defenseman
NHL Nominees: Niklas Lidstrom, Scott Niedermayer, Sergei Zubov
SGN Nominees: Niklas Lidstrom, Lubomir Visnovsky, Sergei Zubov

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. Injuries late in the year took him out of the running for what should have been his award after Bryan McCabe's injury set in. Lubomir Visnovsky's played slowed down in the second half as well, with all of this coming together to open the door for Lidstrom to walk away with this award. Zubov may give him a run in the voting, but Lidstorm averaged over 28 minutes of ice time this season, and had over 100 more shots on net than Zubov. Zubov may steal it, but it should be Lidstrom's award to lose at this point.

Hart Memorial Trophy
NHL Nominees: Jaromir Jagr, Mikka Kiprusof, Joe Thornton
SGN Nominees: Jaromir Jagr, Eric Staal, Joe Thornton

This is pretty much the same as the Lester B Pearson award because I'm speaking in both cases. When it's not player votes, however, Jagr may have a better chance at coming out on top. I figured Staal might get more votes this way, but apparently not. It was Kipper that did instead. This is why I prefer the Pearson award. The players know much better than anyone else what's happening on the ice. They recognize easier who they have to look out for on a game to game basis. They recognize Ovechkin, and that means something.

Art Ross Trophy
League Leader in Points
2006 Award Winner: Joe Thonton
Thornton found the perfect Rucchin, and soared to the top of the standings with 125 points, followed closely by Jagr at 123. Ovechkin lead the rookies, finishing third with 106 points, and linemates Alfredson and Heatley tied for 4th with 103.

Stanley Cup
League Champs
SGN Stanley Cup Champions: San Jose Sharks

I just left this award in here to remind people of how I saw the playoffs coming together, and here is what I said:

No matter what I write here, you're all going to question it. So I'm not going to bother. My ranks for odds to win are 1. San Jose 2. Detroit 3. New Jersey 4. Anaheim 5. Ottawa. Sorry Carolina, Calgary and Dallas fans, it just isn't in the cards this year.

As predicted, Calgary and Dallas have already booked tee times, and outside of Detroit, my top 5 are all still in it. Top five that were highly questioned, I might add, especially the San Jose New Jersey final. The lesson here; Never doubt Sports Guy North when it comes to hockey. It just won't pay off.

so what can we doubt you over? everything else?

I think Brodeur is going to be nominated for the Vezina from now until he retires (and maybe a couple of years after that) because remember, he is Martin Brodeur.

the messier treatment for brodeur, eh? ha. he did play by far the most games out of the top goalies, and racked up a ton of wins. its not an unrealistic choice, but legace and fernandez seemed to have earned it a little more this year. If kipper doesn't run away with the award, however, then there'll be something to complain about.

Ok so how do the NHL justify that Lundquist is nominated for the Vezina and not the Calder? Are they saying that those three are better than the beast goalies in the league?

I'm sticking by my Jersey/Ducks final.

Elias is not even the New Jersey nominee for the masteron. In their infinite wisdom, the Devils media picked Tommy Albelin

that's just the kind of outrage that outrages me. i'm outraged.

Ha, nice one picking the sharks, guess you never realized that they had no goalie. You predictions are pretty much spot on... except for the Pearson. I agree that Thornton would probably get the MVP nod but a lock for the Pearson? Hardly, I would put him in third. Alex the Gr8 was easily the player a defender would least want to face. And as for Jagr, his hat-trick the Philly game in March was evidence enough that he is far and away the best player in the league

New Jersey San Jose final? I don't think so. And also broduer sucked this year cam ward was so much better

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