October 04, 2011
Only the greatest, most accomplished and respected players get to walk away with a trophy at the end of the season. Some of them collect NHL Awards, too …
Your old pals at Puck Daddy have projected the winners for the 2011-12 NHL Awards, from MVP to rookie of the year to the regrettable annual honor given to the league's most gentlemanly player.
In addition, we've also predicted a few extra categories for this season: Like the first coach that gets canned and the biggest surprise team in the standings.
Read on for the predictions; stay for the frivolous justification, won't you?
The panel consists of Sean Leahy, associate editor; Harrison Mooney, associate editor; Dmitry Chesnokov, senior writer; Ryan Lambert, columnist and man about town; Darryl "Dobber" Dobbs, fantasy hockey guru and founder of DobberHockey.com; and Greg Wyshynski, editor.
|Greg Wyshynski||Sean Leahy||Harrison Mooney||Dmitry Chesnokov|
|Hart||Alex Ovechkin(notes), Washington Capitals||Evgeni Malkin(notes), Pittsburgh Penguins||Steven Stamkos(notes),Tampa Bay Lightning||Corey Perry(notes), Anaheim Ducks|
|Vezina||Roberto Luongo(notes), Vancouver Canucks||Henrik Lundqvist(notes), New York Rangers||Roberto Luongo, Vancouver Canucks||Pekka Rinne(notes),Nashville Predators|
|Norris||Shea Weber(notes), Nashville Predators||Ryan Suter(notes), Nashville Predators||Shea Weber, Nashville Predators||Shea Weber, Nashville Predators|
|Calder||Gabriel Landeskog(notes), Colorado Avalanche||Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado Avalanche||Mark Scheifele(notes), Winnipeg Jets||Brayden Schenn(notes), Philadelphia Flyers|
|Lady Byng||Pavel Datsyuk(notes), Detroit Red Wings||Martin St. Louis(notes), Tampa Bay Lightning||Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay Lightning||Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings|
|Selke||Jonathan Toews(notes), Chicago Blackhawks||Frans Nielsen(notes), New York Islanders||Ryan Kesler(notes), Vancouver Canucks||Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings|
|Jack Adams||Barry Trotz, Nashville Predators||Todd McLellan, San Jose Sharks||Barry Trotz, Nashville Predators||Mike Babcock, Detroit Red Wings|
|Hart||Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins||Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins|
|Vezina||Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators||Carey Price(notes), Montreal Canadiens|
|Norris||Zdeno Chara(notes), Boston Bruins||Kris Letang(notes), Pittsburgh Penguins|
|Calder||Zac Dalpe(notes), Carolina Hurricanes||Zac Dalpe, Carolina Hurricanes|
|Lady Byng||Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings||"Really?"|
|Selke||Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings||Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings|
|Jack Adams||Barry Trotz, Nashville Predators||Dan Bylsma, Pittsburgh Penguins|
Sean Leahy: "Malkin has committed himself to off-season work and he's due for a return to form after a ho-hum season for him, before the knee injury. If the Selke Trophy was voted on based upon its definition of being 'given to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game,' then a guy like Nielsen, who's been among the best defensive forwards in the league, should begin garnering more respect."
Dobber: "Banking on Crosby and Malkin playing at least 140 games between them, so suddenly Dan Bylsma is the winningest coach and Kris Letang is wracking up assists like they were candy. Price wins the Vezina because the Habs figure out a way for him to somehow start 83 games this year, a decision made easier simply by looking down the bench and seeing Petr Budaj."
Dmitry Chesnokov: "Corey Perry: A repeat is in store, I think. Perry will prove to be consistent and the most valuable to his team. Pekka Rinne: In his prime right now, absent any lapses in concentration, Rinne's consistency at being very, very good should get him the Vezina. Shea Webber: He will prove that big contract was not a fluke. He's due to win the Norris. Brayden Schenn: I just think of all the rookies he will get the most of the opportunity on a very competitive team. Pavel Datsyuk: As long as he doesn't fight the picked Hart Trophy winner, he should be back with his favorite Lady. Also, last year's loss of the Selke was just a temporary thing. We know there's no better candidate in the league for this trophy. Mike Babcock: It's a toss-up between Babcock and Bylsma for me. If Byslma does what he did last year without Crosby again, he should be in the running."
Greg Wyshynski: "Ovechkin's going to have a rebound year. He changed his training in the offseason and is in superior shape (despite claims he was shaped like a nesting doll). The team's commitment to playoff-quality defense and his own downplaying of stats are a concern; but he'll be better than seven power-play goals this year, and he'll lead the Capitals to the top of the conference.
"Trotz gets the Jack by virtue of the Predators making the playoffs. Toews gets the Selke because Datsyuk and Kesler have theirs and it's been far too long since Toews won something shiny. I wanted to give the Calder to Adam Larsson(notes), but Cam Fowler(notes) showed last season that solid defensemen can't win rookie of the year — only spectacular ones can. So the smart money is on Landeskog, who's already playing in the top six for Colorado. But watch out for these two dark horses: Mika Zibanejad(notes) and Nino Niederreiter(notes)."
|Greg Wyshynski||Sean Leahy||Harrison Mooney||Dmitry Chesnokov||Ryan Lambert||Dobber|
|Team That'll Be Better Than Expected||Edmonton Oilers||New York Islanders||Nashville Predators||Toronto Maple Leafs||Florida Panthers||St. Louis Blues, New York Islanders, Edmonton Oilers (tie)|
|Team That'll Disappoint The Most||Tampa Bay Lightning||Phoenix Coyotes||Columbus Blue Jackets||San Jose Sharks||New York Rangers||New York Rangers|
|Biggest Free-Agent Bust||Ilya Bryzgalov(notes), Philadelphia Flyers||Ville Leino(notes), Buffalo Sabres||Erik Cole(notes), Montreal Canadiens||Brad Richards(notes), New York Rangers||Ville Leino, Buffalo Sabres||Ville Leino, Buffalo Sabres|
|First Coach Fired||Ron Wilson, Toronto Maple Leafs||Joe Sacco, Colorado Avalanche||Paul Maurice, Carolina Hurricanes||None||Paul Maurice, Carolina Hurricanes||Joe Sacco, Colorado Avalanche|
Team That'll Be Better Than Expected
Harrison Mooney, Nashville: "Pekka Rinne, Shea Weber, and Ryan Suter keep the Predators in almost every game they play, but this is the year the Nashville Predators start to get some production out of their forwards. They won't get an 80-point season out of anybody, but they'll get better production than expected all across the board. I'm gonna blow your mind here: They'll finish second in the Central Division and Trotz will win the Jack Adams as a result."
Dmitry Chesnokov, Toronto: "I keep picking them to make the playoffs every year now. I have to get it right this year, no?"
Dobber: "The Blues, Isles and Oilers have built a mighty foundation and all three are so close their fans can taste it. One of these three are taking their step forward this year, while for the other two it will be in 2012-13. I just don't know who."
Greg Wyshynski, Edmonton: "I'm a sucker for youthful exuberance. An improved power play could add a few points in the standings. Plus, Dubnyk's on our fantasy team, so I fully expect him to be a Vezina finalist."
Team That'll Disappoint The Most
Harrison Mooney, Columbus: "The Blue Jackets spent a lot of money on their defense, but it won't take them long to realize that's not the same thing as improving it."
Dmitry Chesnokov, San Jose: "It is the team that is long overdue to win the Cup. Not winning it will be the most disappointing."
Greg Wyshynski, Tampa Bay: "Pardon the pun, but it was Lightning in a bottle last season with the new coach and GM and the new vibes. Let's see how Boucher fares in his second season and what this goaltending looks like come January."
Biggest Free-Agent Bust
Harrison Mooney, Erik Cole: Provided Erik Cole is playing in Carolina, he's a great hockey player. When he's in Canada, however, he disappoints. How did Montreal not realize this? Wikipedia doesn't lie. The good news is that it'll work out for Montreal either way. Either Cole turns out to be Montreal's worst contract, vindicating Scott Gomez(notes), or he doesn't, and Canadiens fans can say, "at least he's not as bad as Scott Gomez."
Dmitry Chesnokov, Brad Richards: "And not because he will be a true 'bust.' But the 'how much is he making per goal' rhetoric will drop him in this category."
Greg Wyshynski, Ilya Bryzgalov: "For three reasons. First, because I'm not convinced his numbers will be stellar away from Dave Tippett's system. Second, because if they aren't, then that nine-year commitment and/or readjusting the roster for him will be a point of contention. Third, because betting on a Flyers goalie to fail to live up to expectations isn't exactly hitting on 19 at the blackjack table (I'm trying to create a comparison Jagr will understand)."
First Coach Fired
Harrison Mooney, Paul Maurice: "The Hurricanes have missed the playoffs in four of the past five seasons and they haven't made many changes to the roster in that time. Still, GM Jim Rutherford believes that this group is a contender, and he won't discover how wrong he is until after he fires Paul Maurice within the first two months because he feels the Hurricanes are under-performing, only to realize later that their performance was on par with their personnel."
Greg Wyshynski, Ron Wilson: "I still tend to believe Wilson would be fired in the offseason if he's ever fired, but what the hell: Slow start, Brian Burke out of answers, and Ron Wilson's nine lives as Leafs coach are finally used up."