As the NHL regular season starts to come to a close, I'm going to take a look back on this season and predict (hopefully fairly accurately) who will win what award for this year. Some will be fairly obvious, some will be a toss-up, and some will be complete guesses, but here are my predictions (with the occasional commentary):
1) The Stanley Cup: Dallas Stars-I hate to vote against my hometown team from Minnesota, but I have to be realistic. The Wild are playing terribly right now, so there is no way in hell I can confidently say I think they have a shot at winning it all. The Stars on the other hand are up there at the top of the conference. Although they are only 6-4 in their last 10 games, the Stars definitely have the firepower to go far in the playoffs. At 89 points they are in first place in their division (although San Jose is creeping up really fast) and second only to Detroit in the conference. With the acquisition of Brad Richards at the trade deadline, look for the Stars to go deep into the postseason.
2) Presidents Trophy (Best overall record): Detroit Red Wings-This one is pretty obvious because, hey, they're the almighty Red Wings. Even though they have stumbled recently (4-5-1 in their last 10), they have the players that will be able to right the ship and take home the trophy for the best overall record.
3) Prince of Wales Trophy (Eastern Conference Champion): Pittsburgh Penguins-This is a very tough choice, I like the Devils and the Canadiens as possibilities for this too, but the Penguins became the front runner as soon as they got Marian Hossa from the Thrashers. With Sid the Kid back on the ice and Evgeni Malkin collecting points like they're pennies, this team is going to be unstoppable, at least until they meet the mighty Western Conference in the Stanley Cup.
4) Clarence S. Campbell Bowl (Western Conference Champion): Dallas Stars-I already chose them to win the Cup, so by default they win this too.
5) Art Ross Trophy (Most Individual Points Scored): Alexander Ovechkin-I love how Malkin has come onto the scene in his sophomore year and lit the lamp, but there is no way I'm going to vote against a guy that will most likely hit 60 goals and has a shot as 70.
6) Calder Memorial Trophy (Rookie of the Year): Niklas Backstrom-Patrick Kane is probably the most talented rookie this year, but I think that Backstrom will overtake Kane in the points department and take home the trophy. Peter Mueller is also a very talented rookie, and Kane skates along side Jonathan Toews, but Backstrom will end up with this one.
7) Hart Memorial Trophy (Most Valuable Player): Alexander Ovechkin-No question about this one. If he hits 60 goals, it's already a lock, and since he's on pace for 70, this is the only clear-cut choice.
8) Jack Adams Award (Coach of the Year): John Stevens (Philadelphia Flyers)-I'm going to be honest and say I really can't stand the Flyers as a team. After a rash of suspensions for the team at the beginning of the season, the only thing I saw them as was a team of thugs. But being realistic, this team has made a dramatic turnaround from last season. At this point this season, the Flyers are already 22 points ahead of where they finished last year with 56 points and in dead last in the Eastern Conference. With 13 games left to go, the Flyers should have no problem passing the 90 point mark and making it into the postseason.
9) James Norris Memorial Trophy (Top Defenseman): Nicklas Lidstrom-This is definitely a no-brainer. Lidstrom has shown year in and year out that he is the premier defenseman in this league, and this season is no exception. Lidstrom has 7 goals and 52 assists this year to go along with a 38 +/- rating. Those numbers scream Norris Trophy.
10) Maurice Richard Trophy (Top Goal Scorer): Alexander Ovechkin-I've said quite enough about this guy in this post.
11) Vezina Trophy (Top Goaltender): Martin Brodeur-Evgeni Nabokov has shown that he is one of the best goalies in the league, but I believe the voters will give this trophy to Marty. The Devils are leading the Eastern Conference and Brodeur's 2.12 goals against average shows where much of the credit goes to. Although Nabokov has his team near the top of the West, I think Brodeur will get the benefit of the doubt due to reputation.
It's always hard to predict trophies and awards with 13 or so games remaining in a season, but based on how the season has gone so far, this is what I see happening. I'm still holding out hope that the Wild can bust out of their major slump and start scoring goals, but until that happens, I'm just going to hope that Mike Modano can bring the trophy home for the Stars.