2015/16 Awards Predictions
‘As is tradition’, hockey writers are required (perhaps by law) to publicly state their predictions on who’ll win the Stanley Cup, which coach will be fired first and which players will scoop the individual awards at the NHL’s glitzy end of season bash.
To ensure One Puck Short doesn’t fall foul of the hockey police, I humble submit my predictions for the end of season honours:
Hart Trophy – John Tavares
Has any player been more important to his team over the past few seasons than John Tavares has been to the Islanders?
In the last four seasons, the Mississauga, Ontario native has 121 goals and 280 points in 271 games whilst being the clubs soul ‘elite’ player. Okposo, Boychuk et al are good, or even very good players; but where Crosby has Malkin, Ovechkin has Backstrom and Getzlaf has Perry, Tavares had no one of comparable star status on Long Island.
The spearhead of a burgeoning Islanders team, Tavares missed out on the Art Ross by just 1 point last season and looks set to lead the franchise back in to Cup contention in the very near future.
Vezina Trophy – Carey Price
A repeat of last year’s stellar numbers is unlikely – simply because it’s so damned hard to play at that level for one year let alone two – but 28-year old Price is understandably the consensus pick to win the Vezina Trophy again.
Norris Trophy – Victor Hedman
Were it not for injuries, 24-year old Hedman might have featured more heavily in the Norris voting last season. As it was he had to settle for a run to the Stanley Cup Final, during which he displayed the kind of talents which usually elevate players to star status.
Entering the new season, Tampa Bay and Hedman seem poised to take another run at Lord Stanley’s Cup, with the Ornskoldsvik, Sweden native now as integral to the Bolts line up as Stamkos, Johnson or Bishop.
Calder Trophy – Jack Eichel
All eyes on Connor? Maybe, but McDavid isn’t the only young phenom entering the NHL this season; and with Oilers fans perhaps a little over hyped, after years in the gutter, the slightly lower key locale of Buffalo might be a more suitable environment for a young star to flourish in.
With a more than respectable supporting cast, Eichel could be among the league’s top scorers this season and will be a key cog in the Sabres resurrection.
Art Ross – Sidney Crosby
Oh you just added Phil Kessel to your top six?
Whether the former Maple Leafs and Bruins winger partners Crosby or rides shotgun for Evgeni Malkin, Kessel’s arrival will pay dividends for the world’s best hockey player via an elite line mate or someone who’ll strain opposing defences and create opportunities for Crosby by proxy.
The end result? A third Art Ross awaits.
Jack Adams – Michel Therrien
If ever a nomination was going to be completely right or utterly, utterly wrong it’s giving Therrien the nod for the Jack Adams Award.
The gruff Canadiens coach has all of the ingredients to impress: an elite goalie (‘great’ coaches tend to have ’em) and a good roster that is competitive but isn’t quite in the class of some of the league’s powerhouses.
Put together a Division, Conference or Presidents Trophy winning season and you’re a Jack Adams candidate.
Of course Therrien’s heavy handed style and occasional run ins with his players may lead to his demise before the regular season is over – making this a somewhat ‘death or glory’ prediction.