2017 NHL Awards and Expansion Preview 1
Jun 24, 2014; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Pittsburg Penguins captain Sidney Crosby holds the Hart Trophy while posing with the Ted Lindsay Award and the Art Ross Trophy after winning the three titles during the 2014 NHL Awards ceremony at Wynn Las Vegas. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Every year we select one night to honor the great players in the NHL. This year also happens to have an extra piece of history.

For the last nine years, Las Vegas has been the host of NHL Awards Show, an event where that seasons award winners are announced and handed their hardware.

This year will be historic, not because of who is going to win the awards, but that the NHL’s 31st franchise will finally fill out it’s roster.

The NHL Expansion Draft will be held that night. The Vegas Golden Knights will finally have a full roster.

It’s time to preview the awards show and the expansion draft.

It is important to note that the awards winners are voted based on regular season play, not the playoffs.

Expansion Draft

May 31, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA: General overall view of the T-Mobile Arena exterior on Las Vegas Blvd. on the Las Vegas strip. The facility will be the home of the NHL expansion franchise Vegas Golden Knights which will begin play during the 2017-18 season. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports




The Non-Voted Awards

November 3, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) celebrates his goal scored against the Los Angeles Kings during the first period at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Art Ross Trophy: Awarded to the player who leads the league in points for that season

Winner: Connor McDavid (100 Points)

William M. Jennings Trophy: Awarded to the player(s) who play at least 25 games and allow the fewest goals.

Winner: Braden Holtby

Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy: Awarded to the player who leads the league in goal scoring.

Winner: Sidney Crosby (44 goals)

Secondary Awards

Apr 19, 2017; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Calgary Flames left wing Johnny Gaudreau (13) controls the puck against the Anaheim Ducks during the first period in game four of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Lady Byng AwardAwarded to the player who exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.

The Candidates

Winner: Vladimir Tarasenko, STL

GM of the year award: Awarded to the GM judged to have contributed most to his team’s success.

The Candidates

  • Pierre Dorion OTT
  • Peter Chiarelli, EDM
  • Dave Poile, NSH

Winner: Dave Poile, NSH

Ted Lindsay AwardMost Outstanding Player as Selected by the NHLPA.

The Candidates

  • Brent Burns, SJS
  • Connor McDavid, EDM
  • Sidney Crosby, PIT

Winner: Connor McDavid, EDM

James Norris Trophy:

Feb 2, 2017; Tampa, FL, USA; Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson (65) skates with the puck as Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman (77) defends during the second period at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Awarded to the top defenseman. This year’s candidates are:

Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning

When a coach or a GM dreams of their dream defenseman, they would likely choose this big 6-foot-6 bruising defenseman.

That is what the Lightning got with the second pick in the 2009 NHL, Swede Victor Hedman.

Hedman has a knack for showing up in the playoffs. He was a huge part of Tampa Bay’s run to the 2015 Stanley Cup Finals, which was his real coming out party. He demolished the New York Islanders in the second round of the 2016 playoffs, recording four goals and four assists in five games.

With the Tampa Bay Lightning struggling out of the gate this season, bad became worse when superstar center Steven Stamkos underwent knee surgery that ultimately ended his season.

The easy route is to forget about this year, get a good draft pick and prepare for next year. But that did not happen, in fact, Hedman almost willed Tampa into the final playoff spot in the East, also earning his first Norris Trophy nomination.

Hedman had career highs in goals (16), assists (56), was second in points for defensemen with a career-high 72. He also had career highs in time on ice (24:30), and hits (93). Not to mention he had a 9.6 shooting percentage, and 132 blocked shots. Needless to say, Hedman did it all for Tampa in 2017.

Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators

One of the great offensive talent’s of this generation is yet again a finalist for the Norris Trophy.

Karlsson is looking (again) to win his third Norris Trophy in six years, joining an elite group of players with the names: Potvin, Coffey, Chelios, Lidstrom, Bourque, Harvey, and Orr.

It’s easy to talk about Karlsson’s speed on the rush or his ability to seemingly play forward and be back on defense, but it would do him a service to talk about the shutdown defender he has become.

But let’s talk about the offense anyways. Even though Karlsson’s time on ice dropped by about three minuets, his production never wavered.

Karlsson increased his goal total by one (17 goals), he was third amongst defensemen in points (71), and second in assists (54). His shooting percentage was also a career high 7.8%.

Now to the defense. This season saw Karlsson start the most shifts of his career in the defensive zone. But still blocked a career high 201 shots, good for second in the league. His plus minus was also improved by 12 points.

Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks

Connor McDavid led the NHL in points with 100, that’s a pretty good pace to keep. Sidney Crosby was hanging in with McDavid point wise until a late season surge by McDavid. There was one other player who kept pace for most of the season, that man is Brent Burns.

Burns was scoring and keeping pace at an historic rate for defensemen. In an era where scoring is scarce, especially for defensemen, makes Burns’ success ever more impressive.

Burns recorded 76 points (29 goals, 47 assists), and his 29 goals were most by a defenseman since Mike Green lit the lamp 31 times in 2008-09. Burns also improved his plus minus by a very impressive 24 points to 19.

He probably would’ve eclipsed the 30-goal mark if he didn’t go through such a cold streak at the end of the season. He only recorded two goals in the last 23 games of the Sharks season.

Burns is one of the most unique players in the NHL because he is a defenseman who suits up as a forward when it is needed. Not only that, but off the ice, he is one of the most interesting dressers in the NHL.

If there was a style award in the NHL, it would be Burns vs P.K. Subban. Every. Single. Year.

The Verdict- Brent Burns

Burns was so unbelievable the whole season even with the late slump. He was head and shoulders the best.

Jack Adams Award

Apr 23, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock speaks to the media after their elimination at the hands of the Washington Capitals in game six of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Air Canada Centre. The Capitals beat the Maple Leafs 2-1 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Awarded to the head coach of the year. This year’s candidates are:

Mike Babcock, Toronto Maple Leafs

It takes a certain kind of coach for his pending contract expiration to be treated like that of a superstar. That’s exactly what happened with Babcock.

He’s coached in three Stanley Cup Finals (winning in 2008), two gold medals at the olympics, and after 10 years at the helm of the Detroit Red Wings, Babcock’s contract was up. Which inspired the league wide “Babwatch” in the summer of 2015.

The Toronto Maple Leafs would ultimately win the Babcock lottery. He would prove critical to the Maple Leafs success this season.

He led the team that finished last the prior year (which he was coach of) to a 40-27-15 record, and was the last seed in the eastern conference playoffs.

The Leafs would have to face the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Washington Capitals in the first round. Most fans didn’t give the Leafs much of a shot of even competing, which led to the “Caps in  three” narrative.

Considering the fact experience matters in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It didn’t help that four of the Leafs top ten scorers were rookies, and the other six have only made the playoffs once before and probably want to forget that experience. It was the steady hand of a seasoned coach that would prove incredibly helpful to the young guns from up north.

Toronto grabbed a 2-1 series lead but fell in six games, with five of the six going to overtime and the other a one goal game. Zipping most of the mouths of the critics.

Needless to say, Babcock has taken a team in the middle of a rebuild and fast forwarded the process by about a good three years.

Todd McLellan, Edmonton Oilers

For years, when hockey fans heard the words Todd McLellan and playoffs together, one thing came to mind: “choker.” After seven seasons two conference finals appearances and blowing a 3-0 series lead he was bounced as the coach of the San Jose Sharks.

He found his way up north in Edmonton to coach the Oilers and their new teenage phenom Connor McDavid. In his second season McLellan and co ended the Oilers ten year playoff drought.

The Oilers finished with a 47-26-9 record and 103 points. In the first round, they defeated McLellan’s old team in six games before falling in seven games to the Anaheim Ducks.

John Tortorella, Columbus Blue Jackets

John Tortorella, a.k.a “Torts,” is the only finalist this year to have won this award beforehand. He took over midway through the 2000-01 season for the Tampa Bay Lightning, and eventually to the Stanley Cup in 2004.

After the Blue Jackets started 0-7-0 they fired head coach Todd Richards and brought in Tortorella to weather the storm that was the 2015-16 Blue Jackets season.

But the 2016-17 season would not be the some. as the team was muddling through a 4-3-1 start, they obliterated the Montreal Canadiens 10-0, kick starting a hot streak unmatched this season.

The Blue Jackets would go 22-2-3 in their next 27 games, including tying the NHL record for a winning streak at 16. They would continue that momentum have the best regular season in team history.

Tortorella’s physical and grinding style fit perfectly with the lineup he was given in Columbus. And while many people didn’t have them going anywhere, it’s clear they may become a regular participant come spring.

The Verdict- Mike Babcock, Toronto Maple Leafs

Babcock’s influence on the Leafs this season was unmatched by any other coach.

Frank J. Selke Trophy

Apr 12, 2017; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; Ottawa Senators center Jean-Gabriel Pageau (44) faces off against Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron (37) in the first period as part of game one of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Canadian Tire Centre. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

Awarded to the top defensive forward. This year’s candidates are.

Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins

When defensive forwards come to mind Patrice Bergeron is always in the conversation.

He is going for his fourth career Selke, which would tie Bob Gainey for most all time. He kept his giveaways and takeaways in the same range. He did drop in blocked shots and hits.

All these stats are even more impressive to see that about nine percent less of his shifts started in the defensive zone.

Ryan Kesler, Anaheim Ducks

Ryan Kesler is one of the most physically grinding forwards in the NHL. He goes one on one with the best centers in the world and wears them down.

Kesler won the Award for his work during the 2011-12 season and was a finalist for the award last year. He was also a finalist in the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons.

Kesler went down in almost all major categories this season, including: blocks, giveaways, takeaways, hits, and faceoff win percentage. Althought he did manage to go up in plus minus for this season.

Mikko Koivu, Minnesota Wild

Mikko Koivu is one of the most respected and underrated defensive forwards in the NHL.

Koivu has been a finalist for the award, finishing as high as fourth once for the 2008-09 season. This is a long time coming for Koivu.

He blocked the most shots of his career (65) and improved his stats from the 2015-16 season, but Koivu is more of a candidate who passes the eye test.  Meaning it’s unfair to judge him based on stats.

The Verdict- Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins

Bergeron should be on his way to another winning campaign, proving again that he is the best of his class.

Calder Memorial Trophy:

Apr 21, 2017; Washington, DC, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (34) scores a goal on Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby (70) in the second period in game five of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Awarded to the rookie of the year. This year’s candidates are.

Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs

There is a reason certain players earn the “generational talent” label. Because their talent only comes once a generation.

Auston Matthews is one of those players.

Drafted number one overall in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, Matthews lived up to the hype and silenced any critics in his first game. Matthews became the first player in league history to scoe four goals in his first NHL game.

That wouldn’t be it for Matthews, he finished second in the NHL in goals (40) and first among rookies in points with 69.

Matthews would prove he can play when it matters come playoff time. In the Leafs six-game loss to the Capitals in the first round, Matthews scored a goal in each of the last four games of the series.

Patrik Laine, Winnipeg Jets

Patrik Laine was the second overall pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, and he was quite the consolation prize.

Laine was being held to a microscope after his buddy in Toronto Auston Matthews scored four goals in his first game. Needless to say Laine impressed anyways.

For most of the season, it was Laine and Matthews battling for tops in points among rookies.

Laine finished second among rookies in goals (36) and points (64), even though he missed seven games due to an concussion.

Winnipeg hasn’t had a young player this exciting since the “Finnish Flash,” Teemu Selanne. If that’s the case, he’s got a very bright future.

Zach Werenski, Columbus Blue Jackets

The only finalist who wasn’t from the 2016 Draft class, Werenski was selected by the Blue Jackets with the eighth pick of the 2015 draft.

Werenski, led all rookie defensemen in goals (11), assists (36) and points (47), and all rookies with a plus-17 rating. He averaged 20:54 of ice time per game in 78 games.

His 47 points are the second-most ever by a Blue Jackets defenseman, after James Wisniewski, who had 51 in 2013-14, and the most ever by a Blue Jackets rookie, eclipsing the 39 points Rick Nash had in 2002-03.

Werenski’s season got cut short when he took a puck to the face in game three of Columbus’ first round series vs the Penguins.

Werenski would return to the game, a 5-4 overtime loss for the Jackets, but he would not play for the rest of the series.

The Verdict- Auston Matthews

It is very hard to look at Matthews’ stats and his ability

Vezina Trophy:

Apr 16, 2017; Columbus, OH, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky (72) makes a pad save against Pittsburgh Penguins right wing Tom Kuhnhackl (34) during the second period in game three of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

Awarded to the top goaltender as voted by the 30 general managers. This years finalists are:

Braden Holtby Washington Capitals

Braden Holtby burst onto the scene for the Washington Capitals in the 2012 regular season after being forced into the starting role after Michael Neuvirth as injured.

He went 4-2-1 in that regular season and was even better in the playoffs, going 7-7 with a .935 SV% and a 1.35 GAA.

From that point on, Holtby would become the mainstay in net for the Caps. After an injury shortened 2013-14 campaign, Holtby bounced back by starting an NHL best 72 games and going 41-20-10 in 2014-15.

2015-16 would be a historic one. He tied an NHL record with 48 wins backstopping the Caps to the President’s Trophy, going 48-9-7 with a .922 SV% and a 2.20 GAA.

Holtby picked up right where he left off in 2016-17, he marked his third straight 40 win season with 41. He also improved his Goals Against Average (2.07 in 16-17 and 2.20 in 15-16), save percentage (.925 in 16-17 and .922 in 15-16), and shutouts (9).

Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus Blue Jackets

Bobrovsky is a two-time finalist who won the trophy in 2013.

He set a Blue Jackets record with 41 wins and led the League with a 2.06 goals-against average and a .931 save percentage, and his seven shutouts tied for third behind Holtby and Tuukka Rask of the Boston Bruins.

Bobrovsky’s 14-game winning streak from Nov. 29 to Jan. 3 tied for the second longest in League history.

Bobrovsky is lucky that these awards are based on regular season play not playoffs. Because when it comes to that time of the year Bobrovsky has been horrendous.

Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens

Price, who won the Vezina and Hart Trophies in 2015 and is often regarded as the best goalie in the world, finished 37-20-5 with a 2.23 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage in 62 starts.

He began the season 10-0-0 with a .957 save percentage and won 13 of 19 starts after Claude Julien took over for Michel Therrien.

Price has had success at these awards, winning every major award a goalie can win in 2015.

The Verdict- Sergei Bobrovsky

Bobrovsky was head and shoulders above the competition this year.

Hart Memorial Trophy:

Mar 10, 2017; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid (97) and Pittsburgh Penguins forward Sidney Crosby (87) follow there play during the second period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Awarded to the player deemed most valuable to his teams success. This years finalists are.

Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins

Crosby is the best player in the world and the only finalist to have won the award before.

We can talk about Crosby’s success in the last two postseasons but the awards are based on regular season play.

Crosby, won the Hart in 2007 and 2014. This season he led the NHL with 44 goals, his highest total since scoring 51 in 2009-10, and tied with Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane for second in the League with 89 points.

Take into account that Crosby missed the first six games of the season due to a concussion. For a man who has had serious issues with head injuries the future Hall of Famer fails to disappoint.

Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus Blue Jackets

See Vezina Trophy for Bobrovsky.

Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers

McDavid has lived up to the hype of being the “Next One” so far in his NHL career.

Injuries limited his rookie year to 45 games, but he still managed to put up 48 points. He picked up the pace and scored a NHL leading 100 points.

McDavid was a huge part in helping Edmonton end their ten year playoff drought.

He slid in the ENG against the San Jose Sharks to seal the series. In the second round with the Oilers leading the series 2-0, game three in Rodgers Place was huge for both sides.

The Oilers fell behind 3-0 in the first period but got two back early in the second. The McDavid scored the tying goal and sent the hockey world a blaze.

The Verdict- Connor McDavid

McDavid was firing on all cylinders all season long and is challenging Crosby for the “Best Player in the world” title.

People ask me what I do in the summer when there's no hockey, I tell you what I do, I still talk about hockey.