The 2019 National Hockey League awards will take place at Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas on Wednesday. This will be the 10th time in the last 11 years that Las Vegas will have hosted the NHL Awards, but the first time at the Mandalay Bay Hotel.
There are 12 NHL awards to be handed out on Wednesday. The following are my predictions for the winners:
Hart Trophy–Pick–Nikita Kucherov–Tampa Bay Lightning–Kucherov is up against past winners Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers. During the 2018-19 NHL regular season, Kucherov was simply the best player on the best team. He led the NHL with 87 assists and 128 points on a Lightning squad that led the NHL with 128 points.
Ted Lindsay Award–Pick–Nikita Kucherov–Tampa Bay Lightning–Kucherov has this award hands down as well. He is up against McDavid and Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks.
Selke Trophy–Pick–Patrice Bergeron–Boston Bruins–The Bruins veteran has won the Selke Trophy four times before (2012, 2014, 2015, and 2017) and is up against Conn Smythe Trophy winner Ryan O’Reilly of the St. Louis Blues and Mark Stone of the Vegas Golden Knights. Bergeron has slightly better offensive statistics than O’Reilly (79 points vs. 77 points and was a +23 compared to a +22). Even though Stone had a very impressive 122 takeaways this season, he gave the puck away 35 more times than Bergeron and struggled on faceoffs, as he only won 45.2% of his draws. For the Selke Trophy, voters like familiarity and Bergeron has the definite edge here.
Lady Byng Trophy–Pick–Aleksander Barkov–Florida Panthers–Off the three finalists, Barkov had the most points (96) and the least penalty minutes (eight). The Panthers center from Tampere, Finland is up against O’Reilly and Sean Monahan of the Calgary Flames.
Vezina Trophy–Pick–Ben Bishop–Dallas Stars–Even though Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Tampa Bay Lightning won 12 more games this season than Ben Bishop of the Dallas Stars, Bishop deserves the Vezina for having a career season. The native of Denver, CO had career highs in shutouts (seven), goals against average (1.98) and a NHL best .934 save percentage. The other nominee is Robin Lehner of the New York Islanders.
Norris Trophy–Pick–Mark Giordano–Calgary Flames–Mark Giordano of the Flames and Brent Burns of the San Jose Sharks are both defenseman, but play completely different styles. Burns is completely offensive minded (83 points and 300 shots on goal), while Giordano is more of a two-way blueliner. In 2018-19, Giordano led the NHL with a +39 and deserves the award more than Burns, because the Sharks supporting cast on the blueline was better and because the Flames had six more points than the Sharks in a surprise Pacific Division regular season title. The other nominee is Victor Hedman of the Lightning.
Jack Adams Award–Pick–Barry Trotz–New York Islanders–Not many expected Barry Trotz to have so much of an impact on the New York Islanders so soon. However the 2018 Stanley Cup champion brought a family philosophy to his new squad that changed the entire culture of the organization. A focus on defense, also saw Trotz help the Islanders have a remarkable 100 fewer goals than they did a year before. The Islanders also went from seventh in the Metroplitan and 80 points to second in the Metropolitan and 103 points. He will be up against Craig Berube of the St. Louis Blues and Jon Cooper of the Lightning.
Calder Trophy–Pick–Jordan Binnington–St. Louis Blues–Jordan Binnington might have started his NHL season a little late (just after New Year’s Day), but his impact on the Blues was unbelievable. The Blues went from the worst team in the NHL to comfortably qualifying for the Stanley Cup playoffs (which they eventually won). In 32 games, he had an amazing record of 24-5-1, five shutouts, a goals against average of 1.89 and a save percentage of .927. He is up against Rasmus Dahlin of the Buffalo Sabres and Elias Pettersson of the Vancouver Canucks.
Others–Robin Lehner seems to be the front runner for the Bill Masterton Award. It has been well documented that the Islanders goaltender has dealt with mental health issues over the last few years, and had an outstanding year on Long Island. Meanwhile, another New York goaltender has a great chance to win the King Clancy Trophy. Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers deserves to be recognized for his philanthropy. Henrik and his wife Therese have set up their own foundation and contribute to Make-A-Wish Foundation and Garden of Dreams Foundation. Giordano has contributed an incredible amount of his time to the Calgary community and deserves the Mark Messier Leadership Award and Blues general manager Doug Armstrong should have the edge for the NHL GM of the year award, for moves he did and did not make during the NHL regular season.