Trophy Tracker: Year-end award winners


With the 2011-12 regular season about to wrap up, Scott Burnside and Pierre LeBrun hand out their award winners (as members of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association, Burnside and LeBrun have official votes for the Hart, Norris, Calder, Selke and Lady Byng trophies, and the All-Star teams and All-Rookie teams):

Hart Trophy

(Voted on by selected members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association)
BURNSIDE: Not much debate here, as far as we’re concerned; Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin carries a significant lead over Tampa’s Steven Stamkos. With the Penguins beset by injuries through the first three-quarters of the season, Malkin helped drive this team forward. He has been a beast in the second half. And with time running out in the regular season, the big center was making a strong bid for the Art Ross Trophy as scoring champion and for the 50-goal plateau. Malkin’s all-around game has evolved, too, and his strong play has helped elevate those around him, most notably James Neal, who is among the league leaders in goals. While Stamkos, Henrik Lundqvist and Claude Giroux will get some consideration, this is Malkin’s season.

Winner: Evgeni Malkin

LEBRUN: My candidates are Evgeni Malkin, Steven Stamkos, Claude Giroux, Jason Spezza, Jonathan Quick and Jamie Benn. A potential 60-goal season would be mighty hard to ignore in the case of Stamkos. Giroux’s incredible rise to the challenge after the huge offseason departures of Jeff Carter and Mike Richards can’t be ignored. Spezza, for my money, has had the most impactful season of his All-Star career. The Kings couldn’t score most of the season and needed Quick to be nearly perfect every night. Which he was. And Benn continues to be under the national radar, but he’s a franchise player who grew his game again this season. But I have to give it to Malkin, whose career-best play in the absence of Sidney Crosby for most of the season absolutely defines what the MVP is all about.

Winner: Evgeni Malkin

Vezina Trophy

(Voted on by the NHL’s 30 GMs)
BURNSIDE: It will be interesting to see what kind of recognition Henrik Lundqvist gets for the Hart Trophy, but he is a virtual lock to win his first Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goalie. Among the league leaders in every significant goaltending category, Lundqvist is the fulcrum on which the Rangers team rests. The Rangers’ personality as a team is Lundqvist’s personality: calm, unflappable, intense. He also remains a workhorse, logging significant minutes down the stretch as the Rangers rebuffed a challenge from Pittsburgh to maintain control of both the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference lead. Although Nashville's Pekka Rinne, Los Angeles' Jonathan Quick and the surprising Brian Elliott -- the St. Louis netminder is dominating the position statistically but has played almost 30 fewer games than many of his confreres -- have enjoyed impressive seasons, Lundqvist deserves top honors.

Winner: Henrik Lundqvist

LEBRUN: My short list is Henrik Lundqvist, Pekka Rinne, Jonathan Quick, Marc-Andre Fleury and Mike Smith. Brian Elliott and Jaroslav Halak just haven’t played enough games individually to win this trophy on their own. They’ll have to settle for the Jennings Trophy for the fewest goals allowed, which in many ways is the right trophy for them given the teamwide defensive concept of the Blues. In chatting with a few GMs over the past week, the guys who actually vote on this particular award, it’s clear Lundqvist is a popular choice, although Quick and Rinne aren’t far behind. Rinne continues to show he is one of the world’s top netminders with another monster season in Nashville. Smith should not be overlooked in Phoenix for what he’s done, either. Lundqvist, to me, has brought his All-Star play to another level, if that was even possible. But I’m going to go with an upset here and choose Quick, who leads the NHL with 10 shutouts; one wonders just where the heck the Kings would be without him since they languished near 30th in scoring for most of the season.

Winner: Jonathan Quick

Jack Adams Award

(Voted on by selected members of the NHL Broadcasters’ Association)
BURNSIDE: You could make a case for 10 coaches to be honored with the Jack Adams, but that’s not how it works. So while we tip our cap, as always, to Dave Tippett in Phoenix, Barry Trotz in Nashville, John Tortorella in New York and Alain Vigneault in Vancouver, the Jack Adams deserves to be in only one man’s hands, and that’s Ken Hitchcock. The Blues were 6-7-0 when Hitchcock took over for Davis Payne, and they have played themselves into an unlikely Central Division title and were in the hunt for both the top seed in the Western Conference as well as the Presidents’ Trophy. In spite of injuries to key personnel (Andy McDonald and Alex Steen) for much of the season, the Blues are the leading defensive squad in the NHL. Perhaps more important, when we consider the possibilities for the Blues this spring, he has fostered a culture of winning where there was none.

Winner: Ken Hitchcock

LEBRUN: Names I believe that should warrant consideration for the NHL’s coach award are Dave Tippett, Dan Bylsma, Ken Hitchcock, Barry Trotz, Alain Vigneault, John Tortorella, Peter Laviolette, Paul MacLean and Kevin Dineen. There’s always an incredibly long list of names who all deserve this award. How can you ignore what Tippett did with the ownerless Coyotes again this season? Or the fixture Trotz has become in Nashville (incredibly, he has never won this award)? Or Bylsma, last year’s winner, who again keeps his team in contention without Crosby for most of the season? I sense the broadcasters in the end will end up with Hitchcock, MacLean and either Tortorella or Trotz as their three official nominees, and there’s no arguing here. But Hitchcock has to be the man who claims his first-ever Jack Adams. The Blues were one game under .500 when he took over in early November and rose to meteoric heights with Hitchcock behind the bench, winning the tough Central Division and challenging for the Western Conference lead -- this with a team that missed the playoffs last season.

Winner: Ken Hitchcock

Calder Trophy

(Voted on by selected members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association)
BURNSIDE: This is another tough one, especially given the impressive points-per-game numbers put up by last June’s first overall draft pick, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. But Nugent-Hopkins’ injury issues have turned what might have been a runaway race for the Calder into a tight battle with Gabriel Landeskog of Colorado and Adam Henrique of New Jersey. Philadelphia's Matt Read, who leads all first-year goal scorers, and Carolina's Justin Faulk, who has had an impressive rookie run on the Carolina blue line, are also worthy of discussion. But it comes down to the complete game, and Landeskog’s durability and physical presence -- he is one of only two rookies to hit the 20-goal and 200-hit mark (and the first forward to do so) -- give him the slight edge over a very closely packed field.

Winner: Gabriel Landeskog

LEBRUN: My group of candidates: Justin Faulk of the Hurricanes, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Oilers, Matt Read of the Flyers, Gabriel Landeskog of the Avalanche, Adam Henrique of the Devils, Sean Couturier of the Flyers and Adam Larsson of the Devils. Faulk’s season in Carolina, I hope, gets recognized with an official nomination. He led all NHL rookies in ice time and played in key situations. But, to me, the Calder race is a 1-2 affair between Nugent-Hopkins and Landeskog. I can live with either choice, but I’m going to go with the Colorado rookie because of his all-around game. He showed signs of maturity in a 200-foot game that are way behind his years.

Winner: Gabriel Landeskog

Norris Trophy

(Voted on by selected members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association)
BURNSIDE: This is a tough nut to crack given the disparate styles represented by some of the players in contention for the Norris Trophy this season. There’s pure high-octane offense from Erik Karlsson, who is destroying the competition as far as point production among defensemen. There’s the hulking presence of defending champ Zdeno Chara, whose offensive numbers are up this season and who continues to log impressive minutes for a Bruins team that looks again to be Cup-worthy. Brian Campbell has been a workhorse, leading all defensemen in average ice time for a Panthers team looking to rejoin the playoffs for the first time since 2000. Alex Pietrangelo has surfaced in the conversation with his emergence as a do-it-all guy for the surprising St. Louis Blues. And there’s the cool-as-a-cucumber Ryan Suter, who plays in the shadow of defensive partner Shea Weber. And while all would be worthy recipients of the hardware, it’s Weber who continues to do it all. The Preds’ captain is, at the time of this writing, tied for first in goals among defensemen; he is fifth in average ice time and plays every night against the best players in the world.

Winner: Shea Weber

LEBRUN: This is an incredibly tough debate this season, one that pits different types of players. You’ve got the electric Erik Karlsson, who brought back memories of Paul Coffey in his '80s heyday. That Karlsson doesn’t really kill penalties doesn’t sit well with the traditionalists who want their Norris Trophy guys to do it all. Then you’ve got two beasts in Zdeno Chara and Shea Weber, intimidating shutdown superstars who are weapons at both ends of the ice and can put a guy through the boards like nobody’s business. Alex Pietrangelo’s all-around game is superb, and he took his game to an all-world level this year in St. Louis. Ryan Suter, Dan Girardi and Brian Campbell also deserve consideration. But I’m going to go with Weber; I feel it’s finally time for him to pick up what won't be his last Norris Trophy.

Winner: Shea Weber

Selke Trophy

(Voted on by selected members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association)
BURNSIDE: This is always a difficult award to sort through, given the different components that go into assessing the league’s best two-way forward: faceoffs, penalty killing, ice time and physicality. It’s time for Patrice Bergeron to be recognized for a consistent body of work as one of the best two-way centers in the game, a body of work that has continued with another fine campaign for the defending Stanley Cup champs. He is the leading faceoff man in the NHL by a country mile and is the top pivot on one of the top defensive clubs in the NHL. Others such as St. Louis' David Backes, Pittsburgh's Jordan Staal and Los Angeles' Anze Kopitar will get some consideration, but I like Bergeron to step forward for what would be his first Selke.

Winner: Patrice Bergeron

LEBRUN: The Canucks' Ryan Kesler last season ended the Wings' Pavel Datsyuk’s dominance of this award for the NHL’s top defensive center, and I think we’ll see another first-time winner this season. Really, this award has become more about who we believe has the best two-way game in the league. There are always terrific candidates, but my list this season: Ryan O’Reilly, Patrice Bergeron, David Backes, Ryan Callahan, Anze Kopitar and, of course, Datsyuk. I think you could make a strong case for Callahan or Backes, and I wouldn’t argue. But I’m first-place vote on my official NHL ballot will be the same as last season: Bergeron. I think the Bruins two-way stud is long overdue to get his name on this trophy, and this could be the season.

Winner: Patrice Bergeron

GM Award

(Voted on by the league’s 30 GMs and a selected media panel)
BURNSIDE: As with the Jack Adams, there is a plethora of worthy candidates for this relatively new award, including Glen Sather in New York, Doug Armstrong in St. Louis and David Poile in Nashville. But I think Ottawa’s Bryan Murray deserves the nod. Although most observers liked the Senators to be a draft lottery team this season, Murray shrewdly pried disgruntled youngster Kyle Turris from Phoenix to add depth down the middle and then picked up Ben Bishop from St. Louis to add goaltending depth. A year after going through a wholesale sell-off of veteran players, Murray has his team locked into a surprise playoff berth. Murray’s biggest move, though, was to halt a series of disastrous coaching hires by bringing in Paul MacLean from Detroit, where MacLean was an assistant to Mike Babcock. MacLean, who should be a finalist for the Jack Adams, has done a terrific job in creating a positive work environment and getting the most out of a lineup that features very young and talented players such as Erik Karlsson and veterans such as captain Daniel Alfredsson, Chris Phillips and Jason Spezza.

Winner: Bryan Murray

LEBRUN: This award is in its third year, and I think the voters still struggle with what exactly constitutes the criteria. It’s supposed to be an award for this season only, yet it’s hard to free-frame a GM’s work in 12 months. Moves that pay off this season were set in motion 2-3 years in advance, in some cases. Still, you want to honor GMs whose work has paid off, period. Phoenix's Don Maloney won the inaugural award in 2010 and Vancouver's Mike Gillis won last season, both good choices. For this season, here's my list of candidates: David Poile, Ken Holland, Glen Sather, Doug Armstrong, Bryan Murray, Peter Chiarelli, Dale Tallon and Paul Holmgren. I don’t officially vote on this award, but if I did, my first-place vote would go to Armstrong. His decision to sign Brian Elliott, to hire Ken Hitchcock and to operate a team with ownership issues is testimony to his excellent work.

Winner: Doug Armstrong