As the semifinal stages are upon us, the defending Stanley Cup Champion, Tampa Bay Lightning will square off against the New York Islanders and the Montreal Canadiens await the winner between the Vegas Golden Knights and the Colorado Avalanche with the Knights holding a 3-2 lead heading into Game 6 on Thursday night.
Another special moment at the end of every NHL season is the Awards and who the recipients of each prestigious trophy will be – we’ve got your finalists below! Tell us who you think will win in each category – we want to hear from you!
The Hart Trophy is handed to the player most valuable to his team throughout the season and is voted on by members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association. This year’s MVP finalists are three studs who stood out for their respective teams during the season and all three of them are deserving, however, Connor McDavid is the likely recipient after leading the NHL with 105 points (33G, 72A) among several other categories. This is the third time McDavid led the league in scoring with over 100 points in each campaign.
The Norris Trophy is handed to the best defenseman throughout the season and is voted on by members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association. The three finalists for best defenseman need no introduction as everyone has watched these guys shut down their team’s best forwards all season long. This is a tough one but I’d have to go with Adam Fox on this one. As a first time finalist in his young career, he finished the season with 47 points (5G, 42A) only one point behind league-leader Tyson Barrie. Fox also had 23 power-play points (2nd to fellow finalist, Victor Hedman) and 102 blocked shots (tied for 15th) as well as 38 takeaways (3rd).
This award is given to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to the game and is voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association as well. All three candidates below are deserving of being finalists. I think Matt Dumba will take this one home this year after co-founding the Hockey Diversity Alliance and being the first to speak out against racism and intolerance to hockey while also promoting inclusion and diversity at the grassroots level of the game to educate early on.
This award is given to the goalie voted the best between the pipes throughout the season and is determined via vote among the NHL General Managers. Fleury went 26-10-0 for this season and was 3rd in the NHL in wins, shutouts, goals-against average, and save percentage among goalies who played at least 20 games. Avalanche goalie, Philipp Grubauer was an absolute stud this season going 30-9-1 and finished 2nd in wins (one behind fellow finalist Vasilevskiy) as well as shutouts (tied for 2nd). Vasilevskiy went 31-10-1 for the defending Stanley Cup Champions and led the league in wins for the fourth straight season. This is a tough one, but I’m giving this one to Grubauer given the fact that he allowed 2 or less goals in 28 of his games and did not lose back-to-back games in regulation this season while leading the Avs to win the Presidents’ Trophy.
The Rookie of the Year award is voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association and this year they’re going to have a hard time as all three finalists were standouts. Kaprizov led the NHL rookies in goals (27), points (51), power-play goals (8), and shots on goal (157) over a span of 55 games. Jason Robertson led NHL rookies in assists (28) and even-strength points (39) over 51 games and was 2nd behind veteran Joe Pavelski in points for the Stars. Alex Nedeljkovic went 15-5-3 for the Hurricanes and tied for the NHL rookie lead in shutouts (3) along with the Islanders’ Ilya Sorokin. He led the league with a stunning 1.90 goals-against average and a .932 save percentage among goalies who played at least 20 game allowing two or less goals in 16 of his 23 starts. This one is tough but I’m going to give it to the Wild’s Kaprizov.
Lady Byng Trophy
Another award voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association, this award goes to the player who best combined sportsmanship, gentlemanly conduct, and ability. Toronto’s Auston Matthews led the league in goals (41) and game-winning goals (12) over 52 games played; a plus-21 and was assessed only five minor penalties never having more than 14 penalty minutes in a season since entering the NHL. Jaccob Slavin led the Hurricanes in ice time (22:59) and was assessed one minor penalty in 52 games while often shutting down the opponents top lines. He had 15 points (3G, 12A) and was a plus-22. Jared Spurgeon led the Minnesota Wild defensemen with 25 points (7G, 18A) and was 4th on the team in ice time (22:05) having been assessed three minor penalties over 54 games. Call me biased, but I’m giving this one to Auston Matthews considering his discipline throughout the season while being hounded by opposing shutdown players.
King Clancy Trophy
This award goes to the player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution to his community and is chosen by a committee of senior NHL executives led by NHL Commissioner, Gary Bettman and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly. The recipient also receives a $25,000 donation from the NHL Foundation to benefit a charity or charities of his choice with the two runners-up each receiving a $5000 donation. Kurtis Gabriel has helped promote LGBTQ+ awareness through social media to amplify and educate fans and players on LGBTQ+ causes through events, conversations, and rainbow-colored pride tape on his hockey sticks. He has also been a strong advocate for mental health issues after he lost his father to suicide when he was only 10 years old. Pekka Rinne has support the NHL’s Hockey Fights Cancer initiative spearheading the 365 Pediatric Cancer Fund with former teammate Shea Weber, which raises money and awareness for cancer research; having donated more than $3M since 2012-13. P.K. Subban has been committed to racial and social justice, underserved youth, COVID-19 relief, and youth hockey. He created the P.K. Subban Foundation in 2014 while playing in Montreal and pledged $10M over seven years to Montreal’s Children’s Hospital. All three of these guys deserve this award for their initiatives and I cannot pick a clear winner here – this should be a three-way award this year given the circumstances over the last year.
Ted Lindsay Award
Members of the NHLPA vote for the most outstanding player in the NHL with the Ted Lindsay Award. The finalists in this category are surely in a league of their own when it comes to their skill level in the game. Sidney Crosby has won the prestigious award three times and would join Wayne Gretzky (5) and Mario Lemieux (4) as the third player to ever win the award at least four times if he were to be chosen by his peers. Auston Matthews led the NHL in goals to become the first Toronto Maple Leafs player to do so in 75 years and the first US-born player to do so in 24 years while helping the Leafs finish first in the North Division. Connor McDavid led the NHL in points (105), 21 ahead of teammate Leon Draisaitl who finished with 84 points and has led the NHL in scoring three times so far. He has won the award twice already and would be the second straight Oilers player to receive it if he won it this year after Draisaitl won it last season. Biased me says Matthews hands down – however, given the class of players that sit at the table of 4+ winners, Sidney Crosby deserves a spot at that table.
The Professional Hockey Writers’ Association votes for the best to excel in the defensive aspects of the game and this year’s finalists truly represented just that. Aleks Barkov ranked 1st among Panthers’ forwards in takeaways (39) and average ice time with 20:56. He was 2nd in blocked shots (37) and had a face-off percentage of 54.9%. Patrice Begeron, no stranger to this award having already won it four times, ranked 1st in face-off percentage with 62.5% from the circle and ranked 1st with face-off wins (714). He led the Bruins with 36 blocked shots and short-handed ice time (97:48) with 35 takeaways. Mark Stone of the Golden Knights was the runner-up in 2018-19. He led the NHL with 58 takeaways for the fifth time in his seven full NHL seasons. He led the Knights’ forwards in ice time with 19:04 and was third in shorthanded time (74:12). Another tough one here but I’m going with Bergeron to win a record 5th time.
The players above all represent the NHL at the highest level and are all well-deserving finalists. So there you have it! Which players do you think will bring home the hardware this season?