The NHL Awards are nearly upon us, and while due to the lockout we don’t get a fun show in Vegas this year (say it with me – “Thanks, Gary!”), the awards are still being given out. The lovely Julia and I have made our picks below – sound off as to whether you agree or not!
Calder Memorial Trophy
Brendan Gallagher, Brandon Saad, Jonathan Huberdeau
Julia: For me, Gallagher was a no-brainer. He’s smart with the puck, a killer goal scorer, and a real stand-out. You notice him on the ice and go “who’s that guy?” You hate him when he plays your team because dammit, he’s just so good. Huberdeau didn’t stand out the same way to me (in fact, I never noticed him when any team I actually follow played Florida), and Saad, while good and gifted with great hockey sense, just didn’t ever strike me as a real threat the way Gallagher does as much as a valuable role-player. Which is nothing to sneeze at, don’t get me wrong, but to me the Calder should go to a standout or future star, and that’s the kind of future I can far more easily see for Gallagher.
Hannah: Brendan Gallagher, man. This kid is a dirty rotten pest in all the best ways, and I didn’t hesitate before picking him. Huberdeau was consistent – in fact, you could argue he was Florida’s most consistent player – but he didn’t have that standout something that I look for in Calder candidates. Saad is a magnificent player, no question, but he’s still coming along in terms of consistency and development. Gallagher, though – he makes every player on the ice sit up and take notice, and he makes every opposing team hate him for the way he can get into spaces he shouldn’t. He’s small, but he’s not at all afraid to throw huge hits. His hockey sense is far past what is expected for a rookie, and he’s smart with the puck defensively too. He can be trusted at both ends of the ice, and that’s important. Gallagher’s not going anywhere, and I feel pretty safe in predicting that this will only be the first award of many in his future. He’s going to be a standout in the NHL for years to come.
Jonathan Toews, Patrice Bergeron, Pavel Datsyuk
Julia: I fully admit to being total crap at being able to identify good offensive defense. (Shouldn’t that be an oxymoron?!) It seems to me to be an intangible only very seasoned hockey watchers can pick up on. If there’s one thing I know about Jonathan Toews, though, he is Captain Intangibles. Also, he had a hell of a season and deserves some sort of award after the Hart snub. I say give it to him.
Hannah: Jonathan Toews is one of the best two-way forwards in the game. My favorite, go-to example is this – how often can a team trust one of their top offensive players and scoring machines, consistently, on the penalty kill? But Toews can frequently be seen killing penalties for the Hawks (when he’s not the one in the box, that is). He’s had a magnificent season, contributing in no small amount at both ends of the ice, and he definitely deserves this.
Kris Letang, P.K. Subban, Ryan Suter
Julia: As a Bostonian, Pens fan, and, to a lesser extent, Bruins fan, I’m aware I shouldn’t love P.K. Subban, but I have to come right out and say it – I love P.K. Subban. The guy does it all on and off the ice. He’s a killer defenseman I dread playing against, he’s skilled offensively as well, and, though I’m aware that this is not a Mr. Congeniality award, he’d win that too if I had my way. There are some aspects of his game I could stand to see improved (he’s a bit careless with his penalties), but he was easily the most well-rounded and accomplished defenseman in the NHL this year.
Hannah: Mostly, I wanted P.K. to win this from the beginning to stick it to the Montreal media, and to the Habs’ front office for stalling on contract negotiations, but then he came out and just had a hell of a season, and, well, that works too. I am terrified every time any of my teams has to play against P.K., because not only is he a shit-starter who can shut down the opposition’s top scorers, but he’s also a threat on offense without neglecting his defensive responsibilities (I’m looking at you, Kristopher Letang).
Sergei Bobrovsky, Henrik Lundqvist, Antti Niemi
Julia: Let me break this down for you – Bobrovsky single-handedly made the Columbus Bluejackets almost Stanley Cup contenders. Columbus. As in, “hah hah, you know who’s never going to get into the playoffs” Columbus. Sure, Lundqvist is always good and I suppose one day I will forgive Antti Niemi for taking what clearly should have been Tuukka Rask’s place in Vezina contention, but none of them are Sergei Freaking Bobrovsky.
Also, I would like to dedicate this award to sticking it to Philly. Hah hah, Philly, look how royally you screwed up. Again.
Hannah: I’m not sure what I can say that Julia hasn’t already said. “Hah hah Philly” indeed. Columbus, sign this man to the extension he deserves! And if you don’t agree with us, just head on over to Youtube and search “Sergei Bobrovsky saves”. You’re welcome.
This one’s for you, Holmgren.
Masterton Memorial Trophy
Sidney Crosby, Josh Harding, Adam McQuaid
Julia: In any other year, Sidney Crosby would be a dead ringer for this award, but even he cannot compete with someone who plays goal while battling Multiple Sclerosis. That’s some Made For Television Movie level inspirational right there. I’m kind of surprised swelling violins didn’t play every time he got in goal. And when at the last minute he took Backstrom’s place for the Chicago series and held his own even if he was ultimately unsuccessful? Clinched it. I look forward to reading his book of sage life lessons that will no doubt be published in the near future.
Hannah: If Harding wasn’t a contender, I’d pick Crosby in a heartbeat, but Harding – how do you compete with someone who can skillfully replace Nicklas Backstrom while dealing with adjusting to Multiple Sclerosis – a disease that is nothing to sneeze at – and the medications that come along with it? Harding was nothing short of an inspiration this season, and honestly, this award has been his to lose from the start.
Hart Memorial Trophy
Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin, John Tavares
Julia: First of all, I would like to say that if Sidney Crosby doesn’t win the Ted Lindsey award, then hockey players are stupid. Let’s just agree that Sidney Crosby was the most valuable player this season (he held onto his point lead for twenty-five days while out injured and no one could touch him) and move on. Don’t argue with me, the numbers will not be kind to you.
Now the argument that Sidney Crosby was not the most valuable to his team, as is stipulated by the Hart guidelines, is a valid one. The Pens are deep enough to win without him. (And they did. A lot.) Both Ovechkin and Tavares are big fish in smaller, crappier ponds. But if that’s true, why did Malkin win last year? Furthermore, I like to think of it this way: say you’re building a fantasy team – who would you think of as having the most impact? Who would you want to build your team around? It wouldn’t be Ovechkin, who only showed up the second half of the season. Maybe it’d be Tavares, but I have to say that he’s never overly impressed me when I watch Islanders games. He’s good, and he makes the Islanders contenders, but he hasn’t reached a level of greatness yet that makes me think of him as elite or go “gosh, I’ve got to youtube me some John Tavares plays”. To me, Crosby had so much better a season that it doesn’t matter what team he played for – he was just the most valuable. End of story.
Also, Crosby has intangibles (ah, blessed intangibles) like “leadership” and “work ethic” and “hockey smarts” and “looks like a marble Renaissance statue brought to life”. I recognize the last one isn’t actually something that’s considered valuable in hockey, but I consider it valuable on a personal level.
Hannah: No one talks about Sidney Crosby like Julia talks about Sidney Crosby, so I’m just gonna let her do her thang. She’s said it all already.
Lady Byng Memorial Trophy
Patrick Kane, Matt Moulson, Martin St. Louis
Hannah: Patrick Kane
I waffled over this pick for a while, because obviously every player listed is deserving of the award. In the end, though, for me, it came down to Kane’s consistent high level of play combined with his off-ice contributions. He’s an elite scorer and playmaker – no one who’s ever watched him play will question that – but what he gets less credit for is being a stellar teammate. The guys who play with him on the Blackhawks won’t hesitate to tell you that he’s a guy you want in the room, and Quenneville himself has said Kane is the first player he turns to when he needs to double-shift someone, because he knows Kane “never says no”. His heart’s in it for the team, 100%, on the ice and off, and he proves it with both his scoring touch and his professionalism.
Julia: Martin St. Louis
This award I was least sure about, because the Lady Byng is supposed to award a) a good player and b) a nice guy, and frankly, I don’t know if any of these guys are nice or not. Moulson may be nice, but he isn’t at the same level as either St. Louis or Kane, so that ruled him out for me. What ultimately made me choose was two things. First of all, he had an insane season and lead Patrick Kane in points. Second of all, as much as I love Patrick Kane and am sure he’s a great team player, there is that “gentlemanly” requirement that I just can’t pin on him quite yet. I think he’s matured a lot since last summer’s shenanigans and moved on from them admirably, but St. Louis is one of those guys that no one ever really has anything bad to say about, and numbers-wise he just looked better.