Last week was one of the busiest in the NHL season as the league handed out its annual awards and then followed up with the entry draft the very next night. The awards ceremony took place in Las Vegas, Nevada on June 20th with the draft being held in Vancouver over the next two days. Thirteen different awards were handed out and we’ll recap the major ones. Please take note that the award winners were ranked on their performances in the regular season only and not the postseason.
Nikita Kucherov, the Russian sniper from the Tampa Bay Lightning who led the league in scoring this year, was the winner of the Hart Memorial Trophy as the player deemed the most valuable to his team. He also took home the Ted Lindsay Award as the MVP as voted on by the league’s players. The 25-year-old captured the Art Ross Trophy for scoring 128 points this year on 41 goals and 87 assists. He set a new record for scoring in a season for a Russian-born player as Alexander Mogilny posted 127 points while playing for the Buffalo Sabres in 1992/93.
Kucherov’s 128 points were the most in the league since 1995 when Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr racked up 161 and 149 respectively. Kucherov took 164 of the possible 171 first-place Hart Trophy votes with Penguins’ captain Sidney Crosby coming second in the voting followed by Edmonton Oilers’ skipper Connor McDavid, both previous Hart Trophy winners. Tampa Bay went 54-5-3 this season when Kucherov registered a point and he earned at least one point in 62 of his 82 games played. When he didn’t manage a point the Lightning’s record was 8-11-1.
The Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goaltender was awarded to Andrei Vasilevskiy of Tampa Bay. He led the league with 39 wins, registered six shutouts and had a 92.5 save percentage with a 2.40 goals-against average in 53 games played. The league’s 31 general managers voted on the award and Vasilevskiy garnered 28 of the first-place votes. Ben bishop of the Dallas Stars and the New York Islanders’ Robin Lehner were also finalists.
Lehner didn’t go home empty handed though as he won the Bill Masterton Trophy for dedication to the sport as well as perseverance and sportsmanship. His record was 25-13-5 with a save percentage of 93.0, six shutouts and a 2.13 goals-against average. He also won the William M. Jennings Trophy this year with his Islanders’ teammate Thomas Greiss for allowing the fewest goals against over the campaign. The other finalists were Joe Thornton of the San Jose sharks and the Columbus Blue Jackets’ Nick Foligno.
The coach of the year award (Jack Adams Trophy) was won by Barry Trotz of the New York Islanders. His squad improved by 23 points over last season and also went from worst to first in the entire league when it came to goals-against per game. Trotz won the award in 2015/16 as well when he was bench boss of the Washington Capitals. Jon Cooper of Tampa and Craig Berube of the St. Louis Blues were also finalists this year. The general manger of the year award went the the Boston Bruins’ Don Sweeney with Doug Armstrong of the Blues and Don Waddell of the Carolina Hurricanes being the other finalists.
St. Louis center Ryan O’Reilly captured the Frank Selke Trophy for being recognized as the top defensive forward in the league. O’Reilly also took home the Conn Smythe Trophy this season as the MVP of the playoffs as he co-led the league in postseason scoring as the Blues won their first Stanley Cup. Fellow forwards Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins and Mark Stone of the Vegas Golden Knights were the other finalists. O’Reilly also enjoyed his fair share of offence this season with 28 goals and 77 points in 82 contests.
Calgary Flames’ captain Mark Giordano won the James Norris Trophy as the best defenceman. The 35-year-old notched 17 goals and 74 points this season to rank second in the league for blue liners and led the league in plus/minus at plus-39. Victor Hedman of Tampa and Brent Burns of San Jose were the other finalists. Forward Aleksander Barkov of the Florida Panthers won the Lady Byng Trophy for his sportsmanship and gentlemanly play. The 23-year-old also scored 35 goals and 61 assists to set a franchise record with his 96 points. Sean Monahan of Calgary and O’Reilly of St. Louis were also finalists.
Forward Elias Pettersson of the Vancouver Canucks took home the rookie of the year award (Calder Memorial Trophy). The 20-year-old scored 28 goals and 38 assists to set a new club record of 66 points in 71 games. The other finalists were netminder Jordan Binnington of St. Louis and defenceman Rasmus Dahlin of Buffalo.Nashville Predators’ Wayne Simmonds won the Mark Messier Leadership Award for leadership on and off the ice as well as community service with the other finalists being Mark Giordano of the Calgary Flames and Justin Williams of the Carolina Hurricanes.