All year we provided regular updates on the status of each major award. Now with the regular season in the rear view window and the voting completed, here is RLD’s look at who should win and be nominated for the Hart, Vezina, Norris, Calder and Jack Adams trophies. Hart Trophy Ryan’s finalists: Evgeni Malkin, Jonathan Quick, Steven Stamkos Winner: Evgeni Malkin (75 GP, 50 G, 59 A, 109 Pts, +18)
There really isn’t any doubt as to who will win the Hart. Stamkos and Quick had great seasons; so did Henrik Lundqvist and Claude Giroux. They may have had a chance in other years, but Malkin was too good.
Coming off major knee surgery, the Pittsburgh Penguins star had a monster campaign. Malkin was the only NHL player to hit the 100-point plateau, doing so in dominant fashion. With Sidney Crosby out of the lineup, Malkin was clutch and carried the Penguins to first-round home ice. For most of the season he was the best player in the world.
Alexander’s finalists: Henrik Lundqvist, Evgeni Malkin, Steven Stamkos Winner: Evgeni Malkin
Malkin re-established himself as one of the most dynamic players in hockey this season. And while he may have finished with 10 less goals than Stamkos, the versatile forward scored 12 more points than his closest competition en route to an excellent season in Pittsburgh. His hot streaks knew no limits as he finished the season with points in 14 of his final 15 games while his linemates, Chris Kunitz and James Neal, both exhibited career highs on his wings. Stamkos likely would have won the trophy had his team made the playoffs while Lundqvist's heroics are probably better celebrated with the Vezina Trophy.
Vezina Trophy Ryan’s finalists: Henrik Lundqvist, Jonathan Quick, Pekka Rinne Winner: Jonathan Quick (69 GP, 35-21-13, 1.95 GAA, .929 SV%, 10 SO)
All year long I’ve said Lundqvist should be the one to win the Vezina. However, it’s hard not to find a reason why Quick shouldn’t take the award.
Lundqvist backstopped the best team in the Eastern Conference, while Quick manned the crease for the eight seed in the West. That may be the only thing that isn’t in Quick’s favor. The putrid Kings offense in front of Quick should not deter his unbelievable season. He is the only reason why the Kings made the playoffs. He also led the league in shutouts, had the best GAA out of all the starters and didn’t take his foot off the gas down the stretch like Lundqvist.
The Kings netminder may not win the Vezina in the end – but he should.
Alexander’s finalists: Brian Elliott, Henrik Lundqvist, Jonathan Quick Winner: Henrik Lundqvist (62 GP, 39-18-5, 1.97 GAA, .930 SV%, 8 SO)
Lundqvist was a finalist for the award during his first three seasons, but failed to win it in either. That's why, more than anything, he narrowly beats out Quick. Lundqvist remained stellar all season, posting a sub-2.00 GAA for the first time in his career and finishing in the top three in all significant goaltending categories. Furthermore, his stellar play was good enough to propel the New York Rangers into Eastern Conference champions which gives him even more of an edge. Quick narrowly loses in his first season as a finalist while Elliott simply did not play enough games to win the title.
Norris Trophy Ryan’s finalists: Erik Karlsson, Alex Pietrangelo, Shea Weber Winner: Shea Weber (78 GP, 19 G, 30 A, 49 Pts, +21)
Karlsson ended up with the widest point margin (25 points ahead of second) for defensemen since Paul Coffey in 1988-89. Maybe Karlsson’s sheer offensive numbers will win out; but as good as he was offensively, he wasn’t as effective defensively as some other candidates – like Weber.
Weber is the prototype defenseman that every coach and general manager would like to have. Many nights this season, Weber showed why he should win the Norris. Not only did he co-lead the NHL’s top power play and finish with a respectable 49 points, but he was dominant in his own end. Weber finished fifth in time-on-ice per game and played in all situations – something Karlsson can’t say.
Alexander’s finalists: Zdeno Chara, Erik Karlsson, Shea Weber Winner: Erik Karlsson (81 GP, 19 G, 59 A, 78 Pts, +16)
Mike Green's previous snub back in 2009 may have set a precedent for offensive defenders but Karlsson gets my vote anyways. The skilled D-man simply dominated all season, scoring nearly 30 points more than both Zdeno Chara and Shea Weber -- the other two shoo-in finalists for the award. His dominance is what gave the Senators such a healthy offense, it also established Karlsson among the elite defensemen moving forward. Moreover, his 79 points were the most since Nicklas Lidstrom posted 80 back in 2005-06, placing Karlsson in some very lofty company.
Calder Trophy Ryan’s finalists: Gabriel Landeskog, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Matt Read Winner: Gabriel Landeskog (82 GP, 22 G, 30 A, 52 Pts, +20)
Nugent-Hopkins, the Oilers’ newest phenom, has certainly put up the numbers in his rookie season. He battled through shoulder injuries, though, and that seems to have hurt him in this Calder race. The man picked behind ‘RNH’ had a second-half push that raised the eyebrows of some voters.
Landeskog did it all for Colorado in his rookie campaign. He co-led in points with 52 and finished second in plus/minus with a +20 rating. He was incredibly consistent following the All-Star break, registering 26 points in the final 31 games and helping keep the Avalanche in the playoff race. Landeskog’s complete game is what has most people believing he will win the Calder.
Alexander’s finalists: Gabriel Landeskog, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Matt Read Winner: Gabriel Landeskog
Landeskog tied fellow rookie Nugent-Hopkins in scoring, but he does just so much more. Statistically, the second overall pick finished with with more time of ice, over double the shots on goal and a plus-22 differential which tells some of the story on this super-skilled youngster. Throughout the season, Landeskog simply amazed onlookers not only with his impressive strength for his age but also his poise with the puck. Outside of Read, no other rookie scored as many game-winners and none scored as many goals. Furthermore, no rookie was nearly as valuable to their team as Landeskog, who became a staple on the Avs' second line. While his organization continues a rebuild in which they add young chips, this Swedish standout may have accelerated their trajectory by a few years.
Jack Adams Award Ryan’s finalists: Ken Hitchcock, John Tortorella, Barry Trotz Winner: Ken Hitchcock (49-22-11, 109 Pts; 2nd Western Conference)
The Jack Adams usually goes to the coach that had the most success in his first season or saw his team surprise the rest of the hockey world. Hitchcock did both. The veteran coach had a tremendous record (43-15-11) after replacing Davis Payne in St. Louis.
The thing that impressed me the most about the job Hitchcock has done is how much the Blues have bought in to his system. Not only did they led the NHL in goals against by a landslide, but they finally showed their potential after underachieving for the last couple years. Hitchcock did a great job behind the Blues’ bench this year and deserves the Jack Adams.
Alexander’s finalists: Ken Hitchcock, Dave Tippett, Barry Trotz Winner: Barry Trotz (48-26-8, 104 Pts; 4th Western Conference)
Trotz perennially gets my vote for working magic with what is given to him. Despite shedding salary during the offseason, and therefore depth in Matthew Lombardi and Cody Franson, the Preds failed to miss a beat, showing that those players were actually beneficiaries of their system. Trotz continues to effectively groom young players, adding rookie Craig Smith, Gabriel Bourque, Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis to the fold, while getting fantastic efforts from all of his top players. And while Hitchcock worked wonders since coming to St. Louis, his team is stacked with pedigree and potential which only proves they should have been there. Tippett, while a defensive mastermind, could not bring his team to the same heights as Trotz this season.
Our podcast 'RLD Hockey Talk' is LIVE every Wednesday afternoon at 1:00 ET/Noon CT. Some of our notable guests in past episodes have been Dustin Brown, Doc Emrick, John Buccigross, Dave Strader, E.J. Hradek, Elliotte Friedman and Jay Grossman.