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Fear the Fin predicts the NHL Awards

Vlasic won’t be winning the Lady Byng, but he probably should.

LAS VEGAS, NV - JUNE 19: (l-r) P.K. Subban and Matthew Barzal attend the 2018 NHL Awards nominee media availability at the Encore Las Vegas on June 19, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The NHL Awards are tonight and while no Sharks are representing there’s still plenty for Sharks fans to argue about. Here’s how the Fear the Fin staff thinks the awards will break down, with running commentary:

Vezina Trophy

  • Best teams goalie gets it here (Nashville).
  • Good thing for Rinne this is a regular season award.
  • Hellebuyck deserves to be a Hart Trophy finalist for the way he led the Jets this season, but earning his first Vezina would be an excellent consolation prize.
  • This year’s Vezina was Vasilevskiy’s to lose until he pulled a Fleury and posted an .887 in 12 games from March on. Still, he led the league in wins (which is a goaltender stat for some reason) so he still gets a nod. As good as Hellebuyck was (and he would probably get my vote), Rinne put up a .939 even strength save percentage to go along with a .948 short handed, and you know what? It’s Rinne’s turn. If there’s one thing we know about the PHWA, they love the guy who’s paid his dues (see: Doughty, Drew), and Rinne is a well loved and established figure.

Frank J. Selke Trophy

  • It’s the Bergeron award as long as he plays
  • While I’m loathe to support the Kings, I think this is a matter of East Coast bias and Kopitar should get more love than he does.
  • They should rename this award after Bergeron when he retires.
  • East Coast Bias/Top 6 Bias wins out here.
  • Couturier is the underdog in this race, but he doesn’t deserve to be. His determined play in both ends of the ice was one of the biggest reasons the Flyers made the playoffs this year.
  • Nothing says ‘defensive forward’ like a career high in points! Kopitar is another guy who is probably seen as “due” for this one, after years of Bergeron’s staunch and silent tyranny. Also, Couturier probably lost the Selke with one play back in November.
  • Bergeron is the definitive winner of this award, but it should go to Kopitar this year.

Norris Trophy

  • PK Subban is way way way better defensively than people want to give him credit for because he dances and has a personality
  • It’s Hedman’s turn. Subban wasn’t even the best defenseman on his team. Although, that’s my guy.
  • Hedman never skipped a beat this season, even when injuries tried to derail him. He kept the league’s most potent offenses at bay every night, all while contributing 63 points of his own for the Bolts.
  • I think this award should go to Subban this year. The poor guy played an entire season with a sack of bricks on his back that said “Emelin” on them, and put up 58 points while starting 37% of his shifts in the defensive end. That said, it seems to be Hedman’s turn, and he really did have an incredible season, putting up 63 points to go with his 55.08 expected goals for percentage. There isn’t really a wrong answer here. Except for Doughty. That one is wrong.

Lady Byng Trophy

  • Barkov is by far the best player of the three
  • Vlasic deserves this award more than these three.
  • William Karlsson wasn’t just the Golden Knights’ MVP for leading Vegas on the scoresheet. He also took just six minor penalties despite playing in all 82 games. Karlsson’s clean game gave the Knights’ offense the chance to flourish whenever he stepped on the ice.
  • There’s a formula for this award, according to my totally real inside sources at the NHL office. Lady Byng goes to the player whose points minus penalty minutes number is highest. By that logic: Barkov: 78-14=64, Karlsson: 78-12=66, O’Reilly: 61-2=59. William Karlsson, approach the stage.

Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy

  • Boyle had cancer. Come on.
  • The guy was diagnosed with leukemia last summer and then came back and played hockey. All Masterton nominees deserve their nomination, but this is an amazing turn around.
  • Doing anything while undergoing cancer treatment is extremely hard. Playing in the NHL while undergoing cancer treatment, like Brian Boyle did, is a show of perserverance that deserves recognition.
  • There’s a certain morbidity to this award. It seems to go to the player who has the worst things happen to the during the season, which seems like an inappropriate thing about which to compete. That said, what the Staal family went through in February is unimaginable, and an award won’t fix it, but their grace and perseverance in the face of tragedy can be commended.
  • Really, both Boyle and Staal deserve this, but it ultimately should, and will, go to Boyle.

Calder Memorial Trophy

  • Barzal had one of the best rookie seasons of the last two years.
  • It’s too bad the Sharks never pick early enough in the first round to draft a guy like Barzal.
  • A back injury may have ended his season prematurely, but no rookie put a team on his shoulders this year quite like Brock Boeser did for the Canucks. Even though he missed the last 18 games, Boeser was in sole command of the team points lead until Daniel Sedin tied him in Game #81. That says it all.
  • Remember when this was an actual race? Before Barzal supernova’d and the entire North Eastern seaboard of the United States was vaporized, leading to a never ending era of strife and devastation? ‘Twas a simpler time.
  • I want to give it to Boeser simply for the weight he carried on his team.

Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award

  • Aren’t these guys supposed to be captains? Why are two of them not captain of their team?
  • A Knight has to get ONE.
  • Deryk Engelland went above and beyond the call of duty this season as a Knights assistant captain. As the city of Vegas reeled from the shootings on the Strip in October, he was instrumental in arranging visits to local hospitals and police departments around the city he’s called home for years. That’s what leadership is all about.
  • Only one of these players is even the Captain of their team. That seems like the favorite, but picking a favorite for an award whose requirements are: “Be Mark Messier’s friend” is difficult seeing as I am not, in fact, Mark Messier’s friend.
  • Blake Wheeler is my guy.

Jack Adams Award

  • Hard to argue with the results.
  • Is there really any question?
  • Gallant is going to win, but Bednar deserves some love here, too.
  • Not even a contest.
  • Bednar and Cassidy definitely took their teams farther than expected, but Gerard Gallant and his Golden Knights shocked the sporting world by winning the Pacific Division and making it within three wins of a Stanley Cup. This contest was, frankly, over in November.
  • The “Who did the best with the worst” award has a spotty track record in recent past, if winners’ continued employment is any metric. If you didn’t know the last few winners, and you guessed that Patrick Roy, Bob Hartley, and Paul MacLean were among them, you’d be right, but you’d also have obviously cheated. The Knights were the biggest nobody-believed-in-us-but-we-won-lots-of-games-anyway since Shaolin Soccer and, while it’s hard to know how much of that to ascribe to Gallant’s coaching and decisions (man, we saw a lot of Ryan Reaves in the dying minutes of close games, hey?), this is how things work around here.
  • I think in any other year, this would have been Cassidy’s, but Gallant truly optimized the roster he was given.

Ted Lindsay Award

  • The players know who the best player is.
  • McDavid is so good at hockey.
  • McDavid and the Oilers may not have made the playoffs, but his league-leading 108 points are the reason Edmonton didn’t sink even lower. The NHLPA’s members will likely honor that fact on Wednesday.
  • You may have heard of this McDavid kid before, and the superlatives flow fast and free when discussing his play, but he’s really very good. Every shift of his would be a highlight for 80% of this league. He’s just starting his first real contract and he may already be the best player in the world. This award is his until he retires.
  • McDavid gets this because they can’t give him the Hart every year.

Hart Memorial Trophy

  • The trade was one for one.
  • First the facts: Taylor Hall led the Devils in scoring by a whopping 41 points. Without him in the lineup, there’s almost no way New Jersey earns a wild card spot playing in the tough Metro Division. This award is undeniably Hall’s for the taking.
  • Whether or not you think a team has to make the playoffs to put forth an MVP winner is immaterial, the voters clearly do. No player on a non-playoff team has won the Hart since Mario Lemieux put up 168 points in 77 games in 1988. So if you’re upset that Connor McDavid isn’t here, maybe pick a different battle. The Hart goes to the player judged to be most valuable to his team, and with that criterion, it’s hard not to give it to the guy with 41 more points than his next closest teammate, who is also a rookie.

King Clancy Memorial Trophy

  • Retirement boost! They are just good guys anyway.
  • A going away present for the Sedins.
  • Henrik and Daniel Sedin have been model NHL citizens for the better part of two decades, whether through their clean play on the ice or the millions they’ve donated to local Vancouver charities off of it. As the curtain closes on the Sedins’ amazing careers, there’s no better way to honor their legacy than by making them the first shared recipients of the King Clancy.
  • The Sedin love fest will never and should never end.
  • All of the nominees have done really incredible work. It’ll go to the Sedins, but that shouldn’t overshadow what Subban and Zucker have done for the children in their communities, as well.

General Manager of the Year Award

  • The Jets were built the old fashioned way: through shrewd drafting and key trades. That should be rewarded.
  • Cheveldayoff tried to build a good team. McPhee tried to build a team that wouldn’t be embarrassing and lucked into a good season.
  • George McPhee started with nothing in the spring of 2017, and somehow built the Golden Knights into a Stanley Cup finalist in that short timespan. And, thanks to McPhee’s excellent planning, Vegas is only going to get better in the seasons to come.
  • This will be based on the Cinderella record, not on actual moves he made or drafting decisions, like being gifted Jonathan Marchessault in order to also take Reilly Smith from Florida, or being gifted Alex Tuch in order to also take Erik Haula from Minnesota, or being gifted Shea Theodore in order to also take Clayton Stoner from Anaheim, or signing Vadim Shipachyov from the KHL and not playing him until he left in disgust, or actively trading for Ryan Reaves, or trading three picks for Tomas Tatar who could barely crack the line up, or or or or or or or. I’d pick Yzerman.
  • McPhee didn’t make other GMs make stupid moves at the expansion draft and the fact is, he still could’ve built a better team during the expansion draft. And it’s hard to want to reward someone who actively wanted to acquire Ryan Reaves. Steve Yzerman has been doing consistently fantastic work in Tampa Bay for years.

The NHL Awards are tonight at 8pm EST/5pm PST, broadcast live on NBCSN and Sportsnet from the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.