The memory is still fresh in our minds of the Boston Bruins skating around Rogers Arena with the Stanley Cup as hooligans in Vancouver tried to burn the city. But now our sights are set in the city where madness is welcomed; Las Vegas.
The 2010-11 NHL season definitely had its share of bright spots and this is why the NHL holds its annual awards show. But who will win? We won’t know how the NHL Players Association and Writers’ Association voted until Wednesday night. I can tell you who deserves to win, though.
Here are my 2010-11 NHL award winners:
Bridgestone Messier Leadership Award
Nominees: Zdeno Chara (BOS), Shane Doan (PHO), Nicklas Lidstrom (DET)
Ponder’s Pick: Zdeno Chara
This award still makes no sense to me. Why is every other award voted on by the NHLPA and the NHL Writers’ Association, yet Mark Messier has an award that he just selects to be the winner? Whether considered a real award or not, the best leader, in my opinion, is the one person who led his team to a Stanley Cup, even though Messier supposedly selected the winner before the playoffs started. The easy pick for me is Zdeno Chara.
Ted Lindsay Award
Nominees: Corey Perry (ANA), Daniel Sedin (VAN), Steven Stamkos (TBL)
Ponder’s Pick: Daniel Sedin
Since the Stanley Cup Final is not taken into consideration in the picking of awards, Daniel will win this award. He finished the season as the only player to break the 100-point plateau (total of 104 points). He was also in the top-five scorers in every offensive statistic, including leading the league in power-play goals (18). Daniel’s offense was a big reason that Vancouver captured the President’s Trophy as the league’s best team in the regular season. He needs to recognize his brother, Henrik, when on stage though because he would not have this honor without his brother playing as well as he did all season long.
Bill Masterton Trophy
Nominees: Ray Emery (ANA), Daymond Langkow (CAL), Ian Laperriere (PHI)
Ponder’s Pick: Ray Emery
Emery displayed a tremendous work-ethic as well as a strong will to even be playing in the NHL. As you may remember, Emery suffered what was thought to be a career-ending hip injury just last season. Emery battled back and earned a contract with the Anaheim Ducks late last season and he became a better hope for them than they had expected. With International star and starting goalie Jonas Hiller battling a severe case of vertigo, Emery stepped in and provided the Ducks with a 7-2-0 record, recording a 2.28 GAA and a .926 save percentage.
Another note: Why is Laperriere even up for this award? Yes, it’s a shame that the feisty winger will probably never play in the NHL again, but how can you qualify for an award if you didn’t even play one minute of ice-time in an 82-game season?
Jack Adams Award
Nominees: Dan Bylsma (PIT), Barry Trotz (NAS), Alain Vigneault (VAN)
Ponder’s Pick: Dan Bylsma
This is probably one of the hardest awards to pick but Bylsma barely beats his two competitors. In recent years, the Penguins have relied on their strength in the center-position (Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jordan Staal). But halfway through the season, Bylsma saw both his top-two centers (Crosby and Malkin) go down with season-ending injuries. The Penguins are not the most loaded team behind the two star players, but Bylsma found a way to get it done. The Penguins kept surging after the injuries, somehow still finishing as the fourth-seed in the Eastern Conference standings. Supreme coaching and a few additions at the trade deadline are the only things that could contribute to that kind of success.
Frank J. Selke Trophy
Nominees: Pavel Datsyuk (DET), Ryan Kesler (VAN), Jonathan Toews (CHI)
Ponder’s Pick: Jonathan Toews
Finishing the season with a plus-25 rating, Toews was a big reason that Chicago allowed just 2.68 goals-per-game, which is outstanding when taking into consideration that Marty Turco was their starter for a portion of the season. Toews was used, obviously, as the top center on the team, but never missed a shift on the penalty-kill either. The 23-year old center battled in one of the toughest divisions in the NHL, but was always the most effective defensive-forward. There is not one game-situation that Chicago Head Coach Joel Quenneville cannot use Toews in.
Lady Byng Trophy
Nominees: Loui Eriksson (DAL), Nicklas Lidstrom (DET), Martin St Louis (TBL)
Ponder’s Pick: Loui Eriksson
Despite Nicklas Lidstrom’s tough yet clean defensive-play, I have to give props to Eriksson for his gentlemanly play. Being on a roster that loves to crash and bang, Eriksson still only posted eight penalty minutes. The Swede was constantly found battling for the puck in corners and behind the net, but rarely brought his stick up and never let things resort to fisticuffs. Eriksson is as gentlemanly as they come.
Calder Memorial Trophy
Nominees: Logan Couture (SJS), Michael Grabner (NYI), Jeff Skinner (CAR)
Ponder’s Pick: Jeff Skinner
Dynamic. Prolific. Outstanding. Any of these words will work to describe Jeff Skinner. Not only was Skinner the point-leader for all NHL rookies in 2010-11 (31G-32A—63P), he was second only behind Eric Staal for the Hurricanes’ leader in goals and points. Drafted just this past summer, Skinner stepped in and made an immediate impact in Carolina. He even earned himself a spot in the 2011 NHL All-Star Game, being the only rookie to actually play in the game and not just in the NHL Skills Competition. Skinner, 19, will be a player to watch in the coming seasons.
James Norris Trophy
Nominees: Zdeno Chara (BOS), Nicklas Lidstrom (DET), Shea Weber (NAS)
Ponder’s Pick: Shea Weber
While Chara finished the season as the lead in the plus/minus category, it is hard to not notice Weber’s abilities defensively. Weber, like Toews, battled in a very tough Central Division, having to face some of the most dynamic players in the game today on a nightly basis. Weber shut down opposing offenses, leading his team to the fifth seed in the 2011 playoffs. Playing on a team that does not get a lot of coverage from around the NHL, Weber was the backbone of the Predators’ defense. Unlike Chara and Lidstrom, Weber did not have a lot of offensive support in Nashville to help boost his plus/minus. Nashville finished the season 21st in goals-scored-per-game (2.60), while Boston finished 5th (2.98) and Detroit finished 2nd (3.13). While he will likely get snubbed because of where he plays, Weber was solid and will be a Norris-winner before his career is over.
Nominees: Roberto Luongo (VAN), Pekka Rinne (NAS), Tim Thomas (BOS)
Ponder’s Pick: Tim Thomas
By tomorrow night, Tim Thomas will be a Conn Smythe, Stanley Cup and a two-time Vezina Trophy winner. Starting the season as a backup to Tuukka Rask, Thomas reclaimed his position as the starter after a shaky 2009-10 season in which he fell to the backup role. Thomas posted a league best GAA (2.00), save percentage (.938) and even had the second-most shutouts (9). The native of Flint, Michigan surprised all of his critics this season, proving that it does not matter how old you are. At the age of 37, Thomas definitely had a storybook season that Bruins fans will remember for as long as they live.
Hart Memorial Trophy
Nominees: Corey Perry (ANA), Daniel Sedin (VAN), St Louis (TBL)
Ponder’s Pick: Daniel Sedin
Don’t put all of your money on my picks. I want to hear what you think. Throw in some comments on the LetsGoBlues message board or live tweet with me during the awards show (@jponder94). I would love to hear your thoughts.
Don’t be surprised when I go 10-for-10 on these awards. It’s bound to happen.