The Lightning could be big winners at the NHL awards with Kucherov, Vasilveskiy favoured to win

Hockey

If ever there might be a year for a do-over in voting for the NHL’s season-ending awards, given all that transpired in the Stanley Cup playoffs, this might be the year.

If nothing else, Wednesday’s NHL awards can offer a reminder of just how different the regular season is from the rock-’em, sock-’em playoffs. Nikita Kucherov is the shoo-in for the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s most valuable player but his Tampa Bay Lightning bowed out in four straight games, with Kucherov nearly invisible.

St. Louis centre Ryan O’Reilly was the Conn Smythe winner as the most valuable player in the post-season but he might not muster enough votes to oust Boston’s Patrice Bergeron for the Selke Awards as the best two-way forward, even though he bested Bergeron in Stanley Cup final.

And the Blues’ Jordan Binnington earned all sorts of praise in being the first rookie goalie to win 16 times in the post-season. He’ll have garnered some votes for the Calder Trophy, but it would be a shocker if Vancouver’s Elias Petterson was not named rookie of the year.

HART MEMORIAL TROPHY

Awarded “to the player adjudged to be the most valuable to his team.” Voted on by members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.

Sidney Crosby: Nominated for the Hart seven times. Reached 100 points for the sixth time in 14 years, getting the Penguins into the playoffs for the 13th straight season. He has won the trophy twice.

Nikita Kucherov: His 128 points were the most by any player since 1995-96, and the most by a Russian, breaking Alexander Mogilny’s record. He collected at least one point in 62 of 82 appearances (75.6 per cent of Tampa’s games) and had league-best 38 multi-point games.

Connor McDavid: The 22-year-old Richmond Hill native won the Hart in 2016-17 and is attempting to join Wayne Gretzky as the second player to capture the award multiple times prior to his 23rd birthday. McDavid (116 points) factored on 50.7 per cent of Edmonton’s 229 goals, the highest figure of any player in the league.

Prediction: Kucherov

JAMES NORRISMEMORIAL TROPHY

Awarded “to the defence player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position.” Voted on by the PHWA.

Brent Burns: Topped NHL defencemen and established career highs with 67 assists and 83 points in 82 games as the Sharks qualified for the playoffs for the 14th time in the past 15 seasons. Burns’ 83 points were the most by a blueliner since 1995-96. The Barrie, Ont., native won the Norris in 2016-17.

Mark Giordano: At 35, Giordano enjoyed his most prolific campaign, posting career highs of 57 assists and 74 points in 78 games. The Calgary captain topped all NHL skaters with a plus-39 rating. He’s a first-time Norris candidate.

Victor Hedman: The reigning Norris Trophy winner registered 54 points and anchored a Lightning defence that allowed the fifth-fewest goals in the league en route to tying the NHL record for wins in one season. Hedman topped Tampa Bay blueliners in average time on ice for the sixth consecutive season (22:46) while logging a plus-24 rating.

Prediction: Giordano

VEZINA TROPHY

Awarded “to the goaltender adjudged to be the best at his position.” Voted on by NHL general managers

Ben Bishop: Playing his second season in Dallas, Bishop established personal bests and ranked in the top three in the NHL in save percentage (.934, first), goals-against average (1.98, second) and shutouts (7n, third) to backstop the Stars to their first playoff berth since 2015-16. … Bishop, who finished second in voting in 2015-16 and third in 2013-14 (with Tampa), is seeking to become the first Stars/North Stars goaltender to win the Vezina.

Robin Lehner: Placed in the top five in the NHL in save percentage (.930, a franchise record), goals-against average (2.13) and shutouts (six) to lead the Islanders to their first playoff appearance since 2015-16. Along with teammate Thomas Greiss, Lehner helped the Islanders become the second team (and first since 1918-19) to go from worst to first in goals against.

Andrei Vasilevskiy: Posted a league-leading 39 victories in 53 games to help the Lightning match an NHL record with 62 wins. He won 18 of his final 21 starts. Vasilveskiy finished the season in the top 10 in the NHL in shutouts (six), save percentage (.925) and goals-against average (2.40). The 24-year-old Tyumen, Russia, native could become the first Lightning player to claim the Vezina.

Prediction: Vasilveskiy

CALDER MEMORIAL TROPHY

Awarded “to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition.” Voted on by the PHWA.

Jordan Binnington: Burst onto the scene Jan. 7, with St. Louis sitting last in the Western Conference, nine points out of a post-season berth. Binnington posted a shutout in his first start and went on to set a franchise record for shutouts by a rookie (five). The 25-year-old Richmond Hill native finished the regular season with a 24-5-1 record, led the NHL in goal-against average (1.89) and ranked fourth in save percentage (.927).

Rasmus Dahlin: The No. 1 pick in the 2018 draft led all rookie defencemen and ranked third among all rookies in points (44). His 35 assists were second among all rookies, as was his average ice time (21:09 per game).

Elias Pettersson: Began his NHL career with a five-game point streak and went on to lead all NHL rookies, and the Canucks, in goals (28), assists (38) and points (66). Pettersson is the second Canucks player in as many seasons to be voted a Calder finalist, following the second-place finish by forward Brock Boeser in 2017-18.

Prediction: Petterson

FRANK J. SELKE TROPHY

Awarded “to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game.” Voted on by the PHWA.

Patrice Bergeron: Helped the Bruins tie for third in the NHL in goals-against per game (2.59), leading the team in plus-minus (plus-23) and all Boston forwards in short-handed ice time per game (1:42). He placed eighth in the NHL in faceoff win percentage (56.6%, with a minimum of 750), marking the 10th consecutive season he has eclipsed the 56-per-cent mark … In addition to his four Selke wins, Bergeron has a pair of second-place finishes and one third-place result.

Ryan O’Reilly: He led the NHL in faceoff wins for the second consecutive season (1,086) … O’Reilly also led the Blues in plus-minus (+22) and topped all St. Louis forwards in average ice time (20:46). He won the Lady Byng in 2014 with the Colorado Avalanche. A first-time Selke finalist.

Mark Stone: Led the NHL in takeaways for the fourth time in the past five seasons with 122 in 77 games with Ottawa and Vegas. The only player to record more takeaways than Stone in a single season is three-time Selke winner Pavel Datsyuk (144 in 2007-08, 132 in 2009-10 with Detroit). Stone is the first winger to be voted a Selke finalist since New Jersey’s Jay Pandolfo in 2006-07 and could become the first to capture the trophy since Dallas’s Jere Lehtinen in 2002-03.

Prediction: Bergeron

JACK ADAMS AWARD

Awarded to the coach who has “contributed the most to his team’s success.” Voted on by the NHL Broadcasters Association

Craig Berube: Named head coach on Nov. 19 with the Blues in 30th place in the NHL (7-9-3), Berube helped the club surge to a third-place finish in the Central Division by going 38-19-6 the rest of the way. The Blues went 30-10-5 (65 points) from Jan. 1 to the end of the regular season, accumulating the most points among all NHL teams in that span. A first-time Jack Adams finalist.

Jon Cooper: Guided the Lightning to 62 victories, tied for the most in NHL history with the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings. The Lightning’s 128 points (62-16-4) ranked fourth in league history, behind only the 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens (132), the 1995-96 Red Wings (131) and the 1977-78 Canadiens (129). A Jack Adams finalist for the second time.

Barry Trotz: Joined the Islanders in 2018-19 after leading the Washington Capitals to the Stanley Cup last season, helped his new team post a 23-point improvement over 2017-18 while yielding a league-low 196 goals. Trotz, fourth on the NHL’s all-time coaching wins list (810), is an Adams finalist for the fourth time.

Prediction: Trotz

Kevin McGran is a sports reporter based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @kevin_mcgran

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