The 2018 season was one for the storybooks to say the least. The expansion Golden Knights defied all odds and predictions and made the Stanley Cup Final. They were bested by a team who finally took home their first cup, the Washington Capitals. Alexander Ovechkin finally got the monkey off his back by hoisting the cup. Perennial playoff contenders Edmonton, Montreal, Chicago and the Rangers stunk it up this year allowing surprise teams like the Golden Knights, Devils and Avalanche get into the postseason. The NHL award season is now upon us in just a few hours. You know the nominees, now here are the Vegas Squares picks for each award.
Calder Memorial Trophy – Best Rookie
While I really liked the way Lightning forward Yanni Gourde performed this season, he was not named a finalist. And that’s okay, because these nominees more than deserve the recognition. Our pick for the Calder is Mathew Barzal of the New York Islanders. A 1st round pick in 2015, Barzal led all rookies with 85 points. He finished with 22 goals and 63 assists and had three 5 point games this season (Only 1 of 2 rookies to ever accomplish that feat). If Barzal wins, he becomes the 5th Calder recipient in Islanders history.
Frank J Selke – Best Defensive Forward
They should just rename this award the Patrice Bergeron Award. He has won four and been at least a finalist the last seven years. Bergeron was 6th in faceoff percentage (57.3%). He was also dominant when the Bruins were shorthanded. Bergeron was a +21 on the ice. Selke beware, Patrice is coming to rebrand your trophy.
Norris Trophy – Best Defenseman
Doughty set a career high with 60 points (10 goals, 50 assists) and led the league in average ice time and total ice time. But the key reason he got our vote was that he is the captain of the unit that allowed a league low 202 goals. Doughty won the Norris in 2016 and looks to take home 2 out of the last 3. He’s a four time finalist.
Vezina Trophy – Best Goaltender
Andrei Vasilevskiy is only 23 and in his first full season, he helped the Lightning to the number one seed in the Eastern Conference and the best record in Tampa Bay franchise history. Vasy finished with a 2.62 GAA and .920 save percentage and also had a nine game winning streak in the beginning of the season. He’d be the first Lightning player to win the Vezina.
Jack Adams – Coach of the Year
No disrespect to the other candidates but Gerard Gallant wrapped this one up in December. Gallant led the expansion Golden Knights to a 51-24-7 record, a Pacific Division title, a Western Conference crown and a berth in the Stanley Cup Final. Gallant finished 2nd in 2016 to Barry Trotz (Irony) when he coached the Florida Panthers.
Hart – Most Valuable Player
Though we believe Taylor Hall will win the award, the true MVP is Nathan MacKinnon. After shipping Matt Duchenne for parts and picks, it looked like the Avalanche were in the verge of another year of rebuilding. But Mac29 kept this team a float and eventually led them to a wild card berth and took Nashville to 6 games. MacKinnon had 12 GWG’s which tied Joe Sakic for most in a season by an Av. He could also join Sakic (2001) and Peter Forsberg (2003) as the only Avs to win the Hart Trophy.