We are just past the mid-point of the season and most teams have played 40-42 games so that makes it time to think about mid-season awards. Here are my votes through the first half of the season.
Hart Trophy (MVP)
1. Marian Hossa – Hossa has his team in second spot in the eastern conference, he is tied for first in goals and second in points in the NHL plays on the power play and kills penalties. He deserves the MVP.
2. Jarome Iginla – A month ago Iginla probably wouldn’t garner much attention but a recent surge has him 8th in the NHL in points, and 6th in goals and he plays on a defensive minded team and plays a physical game most that most other point leaders don’t.
3. Joe Thornton – He got off to a slow start to the season but has been his old self since and is now among the league leaders in points and assists.
Norris Trophy (defenseman)
1. Chris Pronger – Leads all defensemen in points, is 4th in the NHL in +/- and plays for the team with the best record in the NHL.
2. Nicklas Lidstrom – His point production has dropped off a bit recently but is still among the league leaders for defensemen and has the best +/- in the NHL.
3. Scott Niedermayer – Second in scoring among defenseman.
Vezina Trophy (goalie)
1. Martin Brodeur – Brodeur is first in wins, second in games played, second in goals against average, third in save percentage and the best goalie in the NHL this year.
2. Jean Sebastien Giguere – Giguere has an amazing 23-4-5 record, is third in goals against average and fourth in save percentage and is a significant, if not the most significant, reason for Anaheim’s success so far.
3. Christobal Huet – I am still not 100% convinced he is an elite goalie for a full season but one cannot deny that Huet has been awesome for the Canadiens so far this year. I generally don’t think the Canadiens have a very good team but Huet has them firmly in a playoff spot so for that he deserves 3rd place over other top goalies.
Calder Trophy (rookie)
1. Evgeni Malkin – There really isn’t much to say about Malkin aside from the fact that he is far and away the most talented rookie in the NHL this season and leads all rookies in goals and points despite missing several games to start the season.
2. Anze Kopitar – Though he was a top prospect he is a bit of a surprise rookie of the year candidate but he has been a bright light for the Los Angeles Kings and is second in both league rookie scoring and scoring by Kings players.
3. Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Vlasic is someone most of you probably don’t know much about but he has been a key cog on the San Jose Sharks defense. More than fellow rookie Matt Carle. In fact, the only Shark player with more ice time per game than Vlasic’s 21:32 is Scott Hannan. He’s been awesome for the Sharks and despite being a number of other top rookie candidates (Stastny, Radulov, Wolski, Zajac, Penner, etc.) I think it is time we recognize a high quality defensive minded player like Vlasic.
Selke Trophy (defensive forard)
1. Rod Brind’amour – Brind’amour is not only the best defensive forward in the NHL is probably the best all-round forward in the NHL and I considered putting him as an MVP candidate too. He is among the leaders in short handed ice time for forwards, and is one of the top 2 or 3 at winning faceoffs.
2. Jere Lehtinen – Maybe the best defensive forward in the NHL over the last 5 seasons and he has been great again this year.
3. Samuel Pahlsson – Pahlsson is underrated as a defensive forward. He has the most short handed ice time among forwards and for one of the top penalty kill units in the NHL.
Jack Adams Trophy (coach)
1. Dave Tippett (Dallas) – I think Tippett deserves a lot of credit for what he has accomplished in Dallas both last year and this year. He doesn’t have a top 5 goalie playing for him, he doesn’t have a Norris trophy candidate playing for him and he certainly doesn’t have an MVP candidate playing for him and yet his team wins lots of games. He’s figured out how to Ribeiro, once a problem in Montreal, into a productive and highly useful player. Last year he turned Florida castoff Jussi Jokinen into an excellent all-round player and shootout superstar. He has 2 defenseman (Boucher and Zubov) leading his team in points while the rest of his defense consists of an aging Daryl Sydor, Jaroslav Modry, Stephane Robidas, and Trevor Dayley which isn’t a lot to work with. And yet he has his team winning a lot of games. Tippett in my mind deserves to be coach of the year.
2. Lindy Ruff – In my mind Buffalo is the best team in hockey and Ruff is a key reason for that. They are young, but good. They have suffered a lot of injuries, but still won. Ruff deserves a lot of credit for that.
3. Glen Hanlon – All I need to say is that Hanlon has Ovechkin, Semin, Kolzig and a bunch of journeymen players in playoff contention. That’s outstanding.