North Division and some Trophy predictions

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The NBC Sports EDGE staff have gathered to give their second-round picks in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. We have done three that you can see here, but not the Winnipeg-Montreal series. As well we will give you our picks for three more categories.

WINNIPEG-MONTREAL

Ryan: Winnipeg over Montreal in 6 - The Jets went through a terrible 1-9-0 slump from Apr 17-May 10 that hurt them from a seeding perspective, but they're clearly over it after winning their final two regular season games and sweeping the Edmonton Oilers. The Jets are an arguably underrated squad. Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler, Kyle Connor, and Nikolaj Ehlers don't seem to attract the same kind of fanfare as the elite forwards of other teams, but those four are incredibly talented and can help Winnipeg stack up against just about any other team in the league. On top of that they have Connor Hellebuyck, who won the Vezina Trophy in 2020 and finished second in 2018. When he's at his best, the Jets are an extremely difficult team to beat, and right now he appears to be at his best.

Corey: Winnipeg in six games - Winnipeg was impressive in a series sweep of the Edmonton Oilers and should be very well-rested going into Round 2. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Montreal carried over some momentum early in the series, but playing seven times in 12 days and having very little time off to rest could end up taking its toll. The Jets definitely flew a bit under the radar going into the postseason, but they have heated up at the right time. Their top players have been firing on all cylinders and Connor Hellebuyck has been outstanding between the pipes.

Anna: Winnipeg Jets defeat the Montreal Canadiens in 4 - The Winnipeg Jets posted a huge upset in the first round when they defeated the Edmonton Oilers in just four games. Connor Hellebuyck currently has the highest playoff save percentage with .950 and the lowest playoff GAA with 1.60. He had a less than ideal end to the regular season, but the Vezina-winner has turned that around come playoff time. He was able to keep the offensively talented Oilers at bay during their series, limiting Connor McDavid to just one goal after the incredible regular season that he had. The Canadiens also followed suit, as they went on to defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs after going down 4-1 in the series. However, the way Winnipeg played against Edmonton would be too much for Montreal to overcome, and so I will roll the dice and say the Jets will pick up their second sweep in a row.

Jeff: Winnipeg over Montreal in 5 - The one thing going against Montreal in this one, is that there really isn’t one line they can focus on shutting down like they did against the Maple Leafs. If the Habs want to go all out and stop the top line, Winnipeg’s second unit led by Nik Ehlers is more than capable of stepping up. This could also be the series where GM Marc Bergevin’s failure to get Pierre-Luc Dubois can haunt him if Dubois is able to torment the Habs.

Joey: Jets in 7- I think this is going to be a close series, but the difference will be the "freshness" of the Jets. Montreal played their top four defensemen A LOT over the final three games of their series against Toronto and I think it'll be difficult to overcome that. I still expect the Canadiens to push the Jets. I can't wait to watch Carey Price vs. Connor Hellebuyck for an entire series. That's one of the juicier goalie matchups we've seen in a while.

Michael: Winnipeg in 4The Canadiens were all out to beat Toronto and are a tired team heading into the North Division final. Carey Price was outstanding against Toronto much like he was last season in an upset over Pittsburgh but you can’t expect it to happen two series in a row. Winnipeg is stronger up front with stars like Scheifele, Connor, Ehlers and Wheeler and I still like Hellebuyck more than Price.

Consensus: Winnipeg 6 Montreal 0

Below are the rest of our predictions for NHL awards.

VEZINA TROPHY

Michael – Andrei Vasilevskiy, Marc-Andre Fleury, Philipp Grubauer

This was a tight race and any of the three were deserving. Fleury got hurt by splitting the net with Robin Lehner in Vegas, but once again, Vasilevskiy showed that he was the best this season.

Ryan - Philipp Grubauer, Andrei Vasilevskiy, Marc-Andre Fleury

Grubauer, Vasilevskiy, and Fleury are all worthy of the award in my mind, but to me Grubauer has a slight edge. Along with Vasilevskiy, Grubauer was just one of two goaltenders to reach the 30-win milestone and along with Fleury, Grubauer was one of just two goaltenders to start in at least 30 games while still posting a GAA below 2. In other words, Grubauer is the best of both worlds between those three goalies. He does rank third among the three netminders with a .922 save percentage, but even there he's certainly no slouch.

Corey – Andrei Vasilevskiy, Marc-Andre Fleury, Philipp Grubauer

Andrei Vasilevskiy wins the Vezina Trophy. His dominance is becoming an annual occurrence and that continued in 2020-21. Marc-Andre Fleury is my runner-up, but there really isn’t much separation between him and Philipp Grubauer in my opinion. They were both brick walls in the West Division all year long.

Joey – Andrei Vasilevskiy, Philipp Grubauer, Marc-Andre Fleury.

He might be "old news" at this point, but Vasilevskiy deserves to win this award for the second time in three years. Yes, he plays on a great team, there's no denying that. If you watch him play though, you'll realize that there are times where they need him to be out of this world, too. He finished the regular season with a 31-10-1 record, a 2.21 goals-against-average and a .925 save percentage. Grubauer and Fleury deserve some love as well because they had terrific years too.

Jeff - Andrei Vasilevskiy, Philipp Grubauer, Juuse Saros

I'm a big fan of what Saros has done this season, arguably being the NHL's best goalie since March. However, both Andrei Vasilevskiy and Philipp Grubauer have been incredible all season. I was initially ready to hand over the Trophy to Vasilevskiy, but I see it as a toss-up between he and the German netminder. I'll be following this one closely.

Anna - Marc-Andre Fleury, Andrei Vasilevskiy, Philipp Grubauer

There was some great goaltending this season and so there are a lot of candidates that deserve the Vezina. Vasilevskiy is always a good choice, as he is undoubtedly one of the best (if not the best) goalies in the league. Philipp Grubauer also had a great year, posting a 30-9-1 record, with a save percentage of .922 and a GAA of 1.95. However, this year Marc-Andre Fleury really stood out in the crease. He ended the regular season with an impressive .928 save percentage and 1.98 GAA. He picked up six shutouts and along with Robin Lehner, secured the Jennings Trophy for fewest goals allowed.

JACK ADAMS AWARD

Michael – Dean Evason, Rod Brind'Amour, Joel Quenneville

Evason took a Minnesota team that was supposed to battle for fourth in the West and actually challenged Colorado and Vegas for first for most of the season. Brind'Amour an Quenneville did an outstanding job in the Central as both beat out Tampa Bay for first and second place. Mike Sullivan deserves honorable mention.

Ryan - Mike Sullivan, Jared Bednar, Rod Brind'Amour

They should just split the award evenly over all head coaches this year. To be a bench boss under these circumstances was a tougher task than any faced by a head coach in recent memory. That said, the Penguins really impressed me this season. I knew they'd be competitive, they always are, but they seemed to be starting to fade and they were in a super competitive East Division, so my expectations were tempered. They still managed to squeak away with the East title even while dealing with a number of significant injuries, most notably to Evgeni Malkin.

Corey – Joel Quenneville, Rod Brind'Amour, Dean Evason

Joel Quenneville takes the Jack Adams Award. It would be the second time that Quenneville has been named the NHL’s top coach. I had some doubts about the Panthers going into the year. A big chunk of the team’s offense left via free agency when Mike Hoffman and Evgenii Dadonov went to other teams, but Florida’s new additions provided the team with much-needed depth. Coach Q deserves plenty of credit for helping to make that happen. Rod Brind’Amour would be my runner-up, as the Hurricanes just continue to get better under his tutelage. The third spot is a close one between Dean Evason and Sheldon Keefe, but the Wild bench boss gets the nod because his team exceeded expectations.

Joey – Dean Evason, Joel Quenneville, Rod Brind'Amour

Evason managed to take a group of older guys and younger guys and he turned them into a solid group in 2021. No one expected the Wild to finish so close behind the Avalanche and Golden Knights in the West Division this year, but here they are. It'll be interesting to see if they can keep pushing Vegas in their first round series, but losing in the first round wouldn't take away from the positive steps they took in 2021.

Jeff - Rod Brind'Amour, Mike Sullivan, Joel Quenneville

As I've previously mentioned about the Penguins, we shouldn't be discounting what they've done simply cause others have done better. Mike Sullivan went from a guy coaching for his job to winning the East. Joel Quenneville looks to have finally gotten the Panthers over that hump but at the end of the day, Rod Brind'Amour is the winner in my eyes. He's navigated a three-way goaltender controversy, some injuries, and kept the Hurricanes playing at an elite level all season. I'm following his contract situation closely and it would be a gross injustice if the Hurricanes let him walk away.

Anna - Rod Brind'Amour, Jared Bednar, Joel Quenneville

Honestly all of these coaches have done a fantastic job this season. How Brind’Amour has managed to turn the Hurricanes into serious cup contenders is admirable. Joel Quenneville took on a team that had won its last playoff series 25 years ago and helped them make it to the postseason, after finishing second in their division during the regular season. Jared Bednar and his team posted a phenomenal regular season, as the Avalanche had the best regular season performance out of any team in the league. If any of these coaches secured the award it would be well-deserved.

SELKE TROPHY

MichaelAleksander Barkov, Mark Stone, Patrice Bergeron

Barkov is a favorite of mine as he is such a good two-way player. Stone is a rarity as the Selke usually goes to a center. Bergeron is a perennial candidate for the Selke.

Ryan - Aleksander Barkov, Patrice Bergeron, Ryan O'Reilly

Barkov has received some attention before for the Selke Trophy, finishing as high as fourth place in 2018 and this might be the year that he breaks through and wins the trophy. In terms of Corsi%/Fenwick% relative to his team, this was easily his best season with a plus-8.1 and plus-7.7 respectively. He also set a career-high with his 54.9 faceoff winning percentage. The Selke isn't all about accumulating points, but that tends to be a factor and he certainly did well in that regard too with 26 goals and 58 points in 50 games.

Corey – Aleksander Barkov, Mark Stone, Ryan O'Reilly

Aleksander Barkov earns the Selke Trophy. Barkov has been in the Selke conversation before, but he hasn’t been a finalist yet. That should change this year. Barkov has been a force all over the ice, while leading the charge and playing a complete game for the Panthers. Mark Stone, who is a takeaway machine, would be my runner-up and Ryan O'Reilly gets the other nomination.

Joey – Mark Stone, Aleksander Barkov, Patrice Bergeron.

I think it's time to give this award to a winger. The last time a non-center won the Selke was back in 2002-03 when Jere Lehtinen took home the award. I'm not just giving it to Stone because he's a winger, of course. He totally deserves it. He has one of the best sticks in hockey and he uses it to knock the puck away from his opponents. Oh, and he also picked up an impressive 61 points in 55 games with the Golden Knights this year. Barkov and Bergeron are certainly worthy of being in the discussion too and if one of them wins it this year, I wouldn't be upset at all.

Jeff - Aleksander Barkov, Joel Eriksson Ek, Mark Stone

Unfortunately, the trophy has gotten away from the game's best defensive player and become about the best offensive player who is also good defensively. In my eyes, Joel Eriksson Ek should win this trophy by a landslide but Barkov's 58-point season or Stone's 61 points will likely put them ahead in most voter's ballot box.

Anna - Aleksander Barkov, Patrice Bergeron, Joel Eriksson Ek

While Bergeron and Eriksson Ek both showcased Selke-level play this season, my vote in this category would have to go to Barkov. Barkov is a great two-way player. He averaged over 20 minutes a game and was a regular on the penalty kill for the Panthers. He is just overall one of the most well-rounded players in the league. Barkov secured 26 goals and 32 assists for a total of 58 points this regular season. He led the Panthers in goals.