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The Usual Suspects in Vegas

Posted By Mika Oehling On Jun 14 2012 @ 10:28 am In NHL | 2 Comments

The 2012 NHL Awards will be handed out in Vegas on June 20th and the nominees list is somewhat repetitious; whether or not some people will think this is a good thing will vary across teams, but New York Rangers fans will have plenty to smile about. Henrik Lundqvist shows up three times on the list, Callahan is up for the Messier leadership award, and Tortorella makes the short list for the Jack Adams. It may be fair to say that some bet on the Rangers raising the Cup a little too much.

The list lends itself to some pretty interesting storylines now that the Cup has been handed out. Some of the nominees will look like shoe-ins, while others may have dropped in the esteem of some fans. But it’s not the fans who vote, so those storylines may or may not have an effect on the outcome. Nevertheless, they should get some attention.

The Hart trophy nominees are Lundqvist, Malkin and Stamkos. The Western Conference is notably absent from this category and this is the same list of nominees for the Lindsay award. Considering the standout play of others in the league to push their teams to unlikely post-season runs, these lists could have used some diversity. Other good candidates could have been Backes from the Blues, leading a no-name team to the top of the Western Conference, Jonathon Quick for carrying the LA Kings into the final 8th seed spot to make the playoffs and lead them to complete victory or Claude Giroux of the Flyers for having a standout season and inspiring his team at every turn.

The Vezina trophy candidates include Lundqvist, Rinne and Quick. Those choices don’t broker argument, but for the sake of argument, let’s consider some notable would be candidates in Mike Smith of the Phoenix Coyotes who was superhuman for the team or the lights out combination of Elliott and Halak for the St. Louis Blues, the goaltender tandem that was the envy of the entire league.

The Norris belongs to Erik Karlsson, the Swedish sensation with the most points for a defenseman, leaving the rest of the league in his proverbial dust. Chara and Weber are also up for consideration. This award is not determined by sportsmanship, that’s the Byng, regardless, Weber should be turnbuckled out of contention for this one. Chara has a Cup ring already and his numbers don’t stack up against Karlsson. If the league doesn’t make the right choice here on award night, there will be screams of rage everywhere.

The Calder looked like a close one between Henrique, Landeskog and Nugent-Hopkins, but there can be no doubt that the biggest impact player for their team has been Henrique. He does a lot of the little things right, he motivates the team and he comes through in clutch situations without even breaking a sweat. New Jersey owes a lot to Henrique for prolonging their post-season run.

The Byng list of Campbell, Eberle and Moulson is a fair one. The NHL Foundation award list of Fisher, Liles and Moulson also seems solid. The Selke as well, with Backes, Patrice Bergeron and the always great Datsyuk.

The Jack Adams should be a two horse race between Hitchcock and Maclean, who took two teams who were not meant to compete and led them to the playoffs. Tortorella’s Rangers had a good run, but he didn’t exactly suffer with a lineup that included the ever-present Lundqvist and someone by the last name of Richards.

The Bill Masterton trophy candidates include Alfredsson, Lupul and Pacioretty. While it’s hard to ignore the man who came back from a major spinal injury, my heart belongs to Alfie. That’s all bias there and I own it.

The Messier leadership award nominees are Dustin Brown, Ryan Callahan and Shane Doan. It will be interesting to see if either Brown or Doan wins, if the other will shake hands.

The Awards show will probably be entertaining, but in the future, the league may consider adding a bit more of the Western Conference and a bit of diversity to their ballots.

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