The NHL Stanley Cup is not the only hardware given out in June.
With the Stanley Cup Final slowly coming to an end, the NHL will turn it’s attention to the NHL Awards and NHL Entry Draft. While the NHL Entry Draft will take place from June 24-25, the NHL Awards will take place on June 22 at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, and actor and avid hockey fan Will Arnett will be the host.
When asked about the role, Arnett told NHL.com,”I’m excited to host the 2016 NHL Awards because we all know in 2017 I’ll be too busy celebrating the Leafs winning the Stanley Cup.”
Good start, from a comedic standpoint.
Patrick Kane will likely leave with the most hardware, but several other players could be looking at repeat wins after great regular season performances.
Without further ado, here is a look at the nominees and predicted winners for the 2016 NHL Awards.
General Manager of the Year Award
Nominees: Brian MacLellan - Washington Capitals, Jim Rutherford - Pittsburgh Penguins, Jim Nill - Dallas Stars
Predicted Winner: Jim Rutherford, Pittsburgh Penguins
The Penguins were sitting clear out of the playoffs before hiring Mike Sullivan in December, and Rutherford brought in players like Carl Hagelin, Patric Hornqvist, Nick Bonino, Ian Cole, and, of course, Phil Kessel to take the Penguins to the next level. The deal for Trevor Daley during the regular season also proved to be a building block for the Penguins, as he scored six goals and 16 assists in 53 games after tallying just six assists in 28 games with the Chicago Blackhawks.
Due to his activity in the trade market, losing very little in the process, Rutherford must be considered the heavy favorite to win the GM of the Year Award.
Jack Adams Award - Head Coach of the Year
Nominees: Lindy Ruff - Dallas Stars, Barry Trotz - Washington Capitals, Gerard Gallant - Florida Panthers
Predicted Winner: Gerard Gallant, Florida Panthers
Barry Trotz won the President’s Trophy after leading the Capitals to franchise-highs in both wins and wins on the road. They were the best team in the NHL but had a superstar roster to make it happen. Lindy Ruff will always be considered one of the best but was in a similar position as Trotz. He had all the tools in the shed but just had to sharpen them correctly to get the job done.
In two seasons behind the Panthers’ bench, Gerard Gallant has made incredible strides with such a young and unproven squad. After leading them to a 91-point campaign last season, Gallant stole the show in the Eastern Conference after leading the Panthers to an Atlantic Division title. He has brought the best out of Jonathan Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkov, and Reilly Smith to help build a strong foundation and has improved the defensive unit stay consistently responsible in front of netminder Roberto Luongo.
For these reasons, first time nominee Gallant has done more than enough to merit the Jack Adams Award this season.
Hart Memorial Trophy - Most Valuable Player
Nominees: Patrick Kane - Chicago Blackhawks, Jamie Benn - Dallas Stars, Sidney Crosby - Pittsburgh Penguins
Predicted Winner: Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks
What more can be said about Kane’s impeccable season? The Kane fans out there knew this was coming; it was only a matter of when.
Sidney Crosby had a phenomenal end to the season and could very well steal this award for his second half performance. Benn has consistently been one of the best players in the NHL and had his coming out party last season. However, with both players skating alongside heavy talent, Kane put a rookie on his back and absolutely torched opposing defenses all season long.
Jonathan Toews had his worse regular season performance and failed to surpass the 60-point mark for the first time since the lockout season. Prior to that, it was 2011-12 when he scored 57 points in 59 games. Prior to that, it was his rookie season in 2007-08. The Blackhawks still finished third in the Central Division, thanks to the outstanding play of Kane and his young Padawan Artemi Panarin.
Kane finished second with 46 goals and first with 106 points. With that said, Kane not only dominated the game statistically, but also took the necessary strides to take his game to the next level, becoming the best player on the Blackhawks and in the NHL this season.
James Norris Memorial Trophy - Best Defenseman
Nominees: Brent Burns - San Jose Sharks, Erik Karlsson - Ottawa Senators, Drew Doughty - Los Angeles Kings
Predicted Winner: Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks
Doughty may have had the best individual performance of his career, and the same can be said for Karlsson with his point-per-game pace. Both players had impressive offensive showings while also maintaining their defensive presence. However, when considering Burns’ performance, his overall performance should certainly trump Karlsson’s 82-point campaign.
Even though Burns finished with 75 points, he scored 27 goals, best among defensemen, and scored 30 points with the man advantage, another first place finish among defensemen. His 353 shots on net is by far the highest for any blueliner, with Karlsson’s 248 coming in second. Outside the points and statistics, Burns helped lead the Sharks to a playoff berth and has become one of the best defenseman in the NHL after this season’s performance.
Vezina Trophy - Best Goaltender
Nominees: Ben Bishop - Tampa Bay Lightning, Braden Holtby - Washington Capitals, Jonathan Quick - Los Angeles Kings
Predicted Winner: Braden Holtby, Washington Capitals
In what could be another tight race, Braden Holtby edges out Ben Bishop simply based on consistency and overall performance. Though Bishop has the statistical advantage, Holtby was an absolute workhorse for the President Trophy-winning Capitals.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
He finished the regular season with a 48-9-7 record while maintaining a 0.922 save percentage and 2.20 goals against average. His 48 wins were most for any goalie, with Jonathan Quick coming in second with 40. He ended the last two months of the season with just four regulation losses, maintaining an 18-4-4 record in that span.
2015-16 was a breakout season for Holtby, as he joins the elite goaltenders in the NHL. As such, he deserves to take home the Vezina Trophy as the league’s best goalie this year.
Calder Memorial Trophy - Most Outstanding Rookie
Nominees: Connor McDavid - Edmonton Oilers, Shayne Gostisbehere - Philadelphia Flyers, Artemi Panarin - Chicago Blackhawks
Predicted Winner: Artemi Panarin, Chicago Blackhawks
Referring back to the section on Kane, Panarin was sensational this season, as he helped lead the charge in Chicago. He broke the 30-goal mark as a rookie and added 47 assists, tops in both categories among rookies. He also led all rookies with an impressive seven game-winners, and added 24 powerplay points to the mix.
Gostisbehere has solidified his role with the Flyers after an impressive season, while McDavid is destined to win plenty of trophies down the line. However, despite putting up impressive point totals, both players did not play the full season. While the Flyers and Gostisbehere suffered an early first round exit during the NHL playoffs, McDavid and the Oilers failed to clinch once again.
When comparing all three players this season, Panarin was not only the best statistically, but was also instrumental in his team’s success.
Frank J. Selke Trophy - Best Defensive Forward
Nominees: Anze Kopitar - Los Angeles Kings, Patrice Bergeron - Boston Bruins, Ryan Kesler - Anaheim Ducks
Predicted Winner: Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings
The Los Angeles Kings ranked third in team defense in 2015-16, behind only the Anaheim Ducks and the Capitals. Even though Bergeron continues to dominate the draws, Kopitar is growing into one of the most reliable defensive forwards in the game, with the skill to surpass 70 points every season with ease.
The Kings continue to dominate in the possession stats and finished the season with a Fenwick For % of 55.9, good for first in the NHL by 2.4%. Kopitar had an individual FF% of 57.1%, which is actually his lowest since 2010-11. Possession aside, Kopitar has developed into one of the best two-way players in the game and proved it this season after truly dominating at both ends consistently.
He finished the season with 25 goals, 49 assists, and a solid plus-34 rating. He also scored three points shorthanded after falling to tally a single one since 2011-12. With that said, Kopitar made enough strides in 2015-16 to pry the Selke Trophy away from Bergeron.
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Lady Byng Memorial Trophy - Outstanding Sportsmanship and Gentlemanly Conduct
Nominees: Aleksander Barkov - Florida Panthers, Loui Eriksson - Boston Bruins, Anze Kopitar - Los Angeles Kings
Predicted Winner: Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings
Saved the best for last.
On top of everything mentioned in the last section, Kopitar had a measly 16 penalty minutes despite playing more than every other forward in the NHL (1,690 total minutes).
Well, that was easy.
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