The NHL has announced most of the finalists for their major awards, which will be given in June in Toronto. Here are my picks:
Norris Trophy (Best Defenseman): Nicklas Lidstrom, Detroit Red Wings
This one is pretty much a given in my opinion. Lidstrom is second in the league in plus/minus, and he receives a ton of ice time for the team who allowed the second least goals in regular season play. Lidstrom also led all NHL defensemen in points with 70, and is 5th in the entire league with 60 assists.
Calder Trophy (Rookie of the Year): Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks
As a University of North Dakota fan, I was tempted to pick Johnathan Toews, Kane's teammate, but looking at the numbers there really is no other choice. Kane led Chicago, and all rookies, in scoring with 72 points. Ironically, even though Toews led all rookies in goals with 24 I see Kane developing into the better goal scorer and Toews developing into the better all around hockey player.
Vezina Trophy (Best Goaltender): Martin Brodeur, New Jersey Devils
For full disclosure, he probably won't win. Henrik Lundqvist has been getting a lot of the publicity, and Nabokov has been heralded as the best goalie in hockey. But only one of the three finalists is in the top 10 in GAA and save percentage: Marty Brodeur. He also plays in more games than almost any goalie in the league, making those stats all the more impressive. He also ranked 2nd in the league with 44 wins.
Hart Trophy (MVP): Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins
This is the one where I'm sure there will be the most disagreement. Obviously Alex Ovechkin has the popular support for the award, and he is no doubt a great player, but when watching both players in person, it's obvious that Ovechkin does two things: 1. scores goals and 2. a lot of body checks to make it seem like he's playing defense. But as far as reading the game and actually playing defense, Malkin has him by a wide margin. Yes Ovechkin scored more goals than Malkin, but that's because he led the NHL in shots by a wide margin. Taking a look at the shooting percentage leaders, we see Malkin at 10th, and Alex Ovechkin all the way down at 46th. Ovechkin also spent a lot more time on the ice, more time to amass those goals, but when Sidney Crosby went down with an injury, Malkin truly showed how great he was, and in my mind he elevated himself to perhaps the best hockey player in the world, Crosby included.
Those are my picks, who are yours?