By Eric Bancker
The NHL Awards aren’t handed out until June but with the All-Star Game voting underway it seems like the debate has started for who is going to walk home with what hardware for their mantel. Here’s a look at a few awards and who may be winning them come June.
Hart Trophy: awarded annually to the “player adjudged most valuable to his team” in the National Hockey League.
Winner: Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning
Games Played: 22
Powerplay Goals: 10
When you talk about the best players in the NHL two names come to mind, Ovechkin and Crosby, but now there is a new player in the discussion and that guy is Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Stamkos has looked amazing early on and he looks like he’s only getting better. There is also talk that Stamkos may flirt with one of the most elite clubs in NHL history, the 50 goals in 50 games club. Only five players in NHL history have accomplished this, Maurice “Rocket” Richard, Mike Bossy, “The Great One” Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, and Brett Hull. Regardless of whether Stamkos reaches the 50 goals in 50 games plateau he is in perfect position to bring home the Hart Trophy.
Dark Horse: Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay Lightning
Games Played: 22
Powerplay Points: 15
If there is anyone that can take the Hart Trophy away from Stamkos it may be his teammate and linemate, Martin St. Louis. St. Louis is most responsible for Stamkos success as he has really helped him to grow. St. Louis is on pace for about 107-108 points, which would be a career high for him. He is one of the most underrated players in the NHL but I don’t think anyone will be able to overlook him this year.
Calder Trophy: award given “to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition in the National Hockey League.”Winner: Sergei Bobrovsky, Philadelphia Flyers
Games Played: 17
Goals Against Average: 2.21
Save Percentage: .925%
It’s only November but Bobrovsky is already becoming one of the best goalies in the NHL. The Flyers have spent the last decade looking for a goalie to take them to that next level and early on “Bob” is looking like the guy to do it. Flyers fans were excited to have Michael Leighton back as their starter after a strong playoff run last year that saw them make the Stanley Cup, but an injury has led to Bobrovsky stealing the show and stealing Leighton’s job.
Runner-up: Jeff Skinner, Carolina Hurricanes
Games Played: 21
Skinner was surprise draft pick, the Hurricanes took him with the 7th overall pick in the 2010 draft and he has repaid them nicely. Skinner leads all rookies in points and he has really grown into a good player for the Hurricanes. equipped with speed and a good shot it seems like the youngest player in the NHL isn’t showing his age to this point.
Vezina Trophy: awarded annually to the National Hockey League’s goaltender who is “adjudged to be the best at this position”.
Winner: Tim Thomas, Boston Bruins
Games Played: 14
Goals Against Average: 1.46
Save Percentage: .955%
Tim Thomas’ career is like a rollercoaster for Bruins fans. In 2008-2009, he was the best goalie in the NHL and he captured the Vezina Trophy for the first time in his career. Last season he lost his job to Tuukka Rask and he just didn’t look like the same goalie as he had a sub- .500 record. Now this season it seems like Thomas is back and he is playing better than ever. Leading the league in goals against average and save percentage and there isn’t a better goalie in the game right now.
Runner-up: Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens
Games Played: 21
Goals Against Average: 2.00
Save Percentage: .933
I never thought that Carey “Swiss Cheese Glove Hand” Price would be mentioned as a Vezina Trophy nominee at any point of the season. All the comparisons to Patrick Roy were too much for him over the past three years and he has crumbled under the pressure of the Montreal fans. He was under even more pressure this season when the team shipped off Jaroslav Halak, who was the main force behind the Canadiens playoff run, leaving Price as the lone man in net but he has answered the call, for once.