As most teams have hit the half way point in the 2010-2011 NHL season at 41 games, we see which players have stood out as the early candidates for the NHL awards. Check it out.
Hart Memorial Trophy
The Hart Memorial Award goes to the player who is the most valuable to his team. Although he is hurt now the player that deserves this award is obviously Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Sid is leading the league with 32 goals and 66 points. He is also second in assists with 33 and sixth in plus/ minus at 20. During the first half of the season he enjoyed a 25 game point streak, where it seemed like he couldn’t be stopped except by the Islanders in the 26th game. The Penguins have rode Crosby to the top spots in the Eastern Conference.
Runners up: Steven Stamkos (Tampa Bay Lightning), Henrik Sedin (Vancouver Canucks)
The Vezina Trophy is awarded to the best goaltender in the league. Thus far in the season the award goes to Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins. Thomas has an outstanding .945 save percentage, 1.80 goals against average, and 5 shut outs which all lead the league. He is also tied for fifth in wins with 18, which is really impressive considering he started the season as Rask’s backup.
Runners up: Jonathan Quick (Los Angeles Kings), Carey Price (Montreal Canadiens)
James Norris Memorial Trophy
This trophy is given to the top defenseman in the NHL. Thus far this season the award goes to Atlanta Thrashers Defenseman Dustin Byfuglien. The Big Buff is leading all defensemen in goals with 16 and points with 41. He is also 5th in assists with 25. Buff never stops amazing fans with his last minute heroics scoring 6 game winning goals, which also leads all defensemen. Alex Goligoski has 4 game winning goals and is in second in the category. It’s hard to think that just one year ago Buff was a forward for the Blackhawks.
Runners up: Nicklas Lidstrom (Detroit Red Wings), Kris Letang (Pittsburgh Penguins)
Calder Memorial Trophy
The Calder Memorial Trophy is awarded to the player who is most proficient in his first year in the NHL. This award was harder to choose, but so far the award goes to the rookie that has scored the most goals, San Jose’s Logan Couture. Couture is leading all rookies in goals with 18, beating second placed Taylor Hall by 6 goals. Couture is second in scoring with 27 points only behind Jeff Skinner by one point. He also leads all rookies with 5 game winning goals. Although he is on a very talented team to begin with his speed and skill cannot be ignored.
Runners up: Taylor Hall (Edmonton Oilers), Jordan Eberle (Edmonton Oilers), Jeff Skinner (Carolina Hurricanes)
Lady Byng Award
This award is given to the player who shows the greatest level of sportsmanship while playing at an extremely high level of hockey. Like last season, this award goes to Martin St. Louis of the Tampa Bay Lightning. St. Louis is second in the league with 34 assists and 3rd in the league with 50 points. Along with those amazing offensive stats he only has amassed 8 minutes in penalties, thus far in the season. Every year St. Louis is a model of a sportsmanlike player and every year he posts all-star numbers.
Runners up: Pavel Datsyuk (Detroit Red Wings), Anze Kopitar (Los Angeles Kings)
Frank J. Selke Trophy
The Frank J. Selke Trophy is awarded to the forward who demonstrates the best defensive ability. The Detroit Red Wings breed great defensive forwards, especially centres. That is why for the fourth consecutive season Pavel Datsyuk is the league’s best defensive forward. Datsyuk is second in the league with 47 takeaways only trailing Big Joe Thornton. Datsyuk is always reliable in the defensive zone and also happens to be quite good in the offensive zone as well. Part of being a great defensive player is controlling the puck. Datsyuk wins face offs over 56% of the time and has excellent puck control skills in both the defensive and offensive zones.
Runners up: Ryan Kesler (Vancouver Canucks), Jonathan Toews (Chicago Blackhawks)
Jack Adams Award
The Jack Adams Award goes to the league’s best coach. Just like in 1995 with the Quebec Nordiques, Marc Crawford of the Dallas Stars wins this year’s Jack Adams Award. The Stars finished 12th in the West last season and now they are in 3rd in the conference. They lost former captain and leader Mike Modano and starting goalie Marty Turco and still were able to climb up the standings. Crawford has been able to use his skilled canters Brad Richards and Mike Ribeiro with scoring wingers such as Eriksson, Benn, Morrow, and Neal to create strong line combinations.
Runners up: Davis Payne (St. Louis Blues), Randy Carlyle (Anaheim Ducks)
Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy
This trophy is awarded to the comeback player of the year. This season it is Johan Franzen of the Detroit Red Wings. After a difficult 2009-2010 season for Franzen after a superb playoffs in 2009, he has come back to his old form. “The Mule” as his teammates call him has 17 goals and 14 assists for 31 points this season. The goal total puts him 13th in the league in that department after an injury plagued season last year. Franzen is one of the premier power forwards in the NHL right now.
Runners up: Ales Hemsky (Edmonton Oilers), Milan Lucic (Boston Bruins), David Booth (Florida Panthers
Ted Lindsay Award
The Ted Lindsay Award or the former Lester B. Pearson Award is awarded to the best player voted by the players. Since I don’t play in the NHL I can’t have an accurate guess to who they will vote for, but I assume Sidney Crosby would be hard for any player to vote against.
Bridgestone Messier Leadership Award
This award is given to the player that best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice. This award is the newest award and has only been presented to four previous winners, Chris Chelios, Mats Sundin, Jarome Iginla, and Sidney Crosby. Although the award is young and all of the recipients have deserved it Nicklas Lidstrom of the Detroit Red Wings is overdue. For the past decade he has been a leader for the Red Wings on winning teams. His quiet lead-by-example style is commendable. The 40 year old veteran deserves this award more than anyone in the league.
Runners up: Joe Thornton (San Jose Sharks), Jonathan Toews (Chicago Blackhawks)
What are your predictions for the awards?