Finalists for the 2016-17 NHL Awards have been announced with several familiar nominations along with a few surprises heading up this season’s class.
The NHL Awards, which will take place on June 21st, carries extra excitement this off-season as the selections will coincide with the Vegas Golden Knights’ expansion draft.
Seven awards will be up for grabs during the night as the Professional Hockey Writers Association vote for the best of the best in the NHL.
So, who are the finalists for this year’s NHL Awards? Here’s a look at each of the trophies up for grabs at the end of the season:
Calder Trophy – (Rookie of the Year)
After a historic season for rookies, the NHL narrowed the list down to three finalists for the Calder Trophy after an impressive first season in the NHL.
The Calder Memorial Trophy, awarded to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition in the National Hockey League, is named after Frank Calder, the first president of the NHL.
Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Patrik Laine of the Winnipeg Jets and Zach Werenski of the Columbus Blue Jackets have been selected as the final three.
Matthews, who scored the Leafs’ first and last goals this season, is believed to be the experts unanimous selection. After his 69-point NHL debut season, Matthews is destined to be the 2016-17 Rookie of the Year.
Hart Trophy – (Most Valuable Player)
The Hart Memorial Trophy, originally known as the Hart Trophy, is awarded annually to the “player judged most valuable to his team” in the National Hockey League.
Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers has been handpicked by many to be this year’s Hart Trophy winner.
At the time of writing, the Hart Trophy finalists have not been announced, but it is expected Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins will join McDavid as one of the final three.
McDavid put together a stellar 2016-17 season and the Oilers benefited greatly from his play. McDavid led the league in points (100) and in assists (70) propelling the Oilers to the second round of the NHL Playoffs for the first time in 12 years. “The Oil” haven’t looked this good since the days of Wayne Gretzky.
Crosby, meanwhile, led the league in goals with 44, adding 45 assists to tie Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks for second in the league with 89 points.
All three should be up for the Hart along with Brad Marchand of the Boston Bruins, who should also receive consideration.
Norris Trophy – (Top Defenseman)
The James Norris Memorial Trophy, or simply the Norris Trophy, is awarded to the National Hockey League’s top defensemen who displays the greatest all-round ability at the position.
Brent Burns of the San Jose Sharks and Victor Hedman of the Tampa Bay Lightning join two-time Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators as the three finalists for the 2016-17 trophy.
Due to his overall play, many feel Burns will take home the trophy this season. However, due to Karlsson’s play in the playoffs and the Senators’ subsequent first-round victory over Boston in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, there could be an upset.
Vezina Trophy – (Top Goaltender)
The Vezina Trophy is awarded annually to the National Hockey League’s goaltender who is “adjudged to be the best at this position.” At the end of each season, all 30 NHL general managers vote to determine the winner.
This season, the NHL has narrowed the list to three in the chase for the Vezina Trophy: Braden Holtby of the Washington Capitals, Sergei Bobrovsky of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens.
Bobrovsky is the incumbent and picked up 41 wins to spearhead the Blue Jackets’ first 50-win season in franchise history. “Bob” posted a league-best 2.06 goals-against average and .931 save percentage this season. It will be tough to overlook those numbers.
Holtby, meanwhile, led the league in shutouts with nine while posting peripherals of 2.07 and .925, respectively. Price, who captured both the Vezina and Hart in the same season in 2015, was also atop the leader board in the regular season checking in at 2.23 and .923, respectively.
Jack Adams Award – (Coach of the Year)
The Jack Adams Award is awarded annually to the National Hockey League coach “adjudged to have contributed the most to his team’s success.” Incredibly, the league’s Coach of the Year award has been presented 39 times to 34 different coaches since its creation in 1974.
Many PHWA voters had Maple Leafs’ coach Mike Babcock penciled in for the Jack Adams Award at the end of March and with Toronto’s first playoff appearance in four years — with six rookies on the roster — “Babs” is the clear front-runner.
Former San Jose Sharks bench boss Todd McLellan, now of the Edmonton Oilers, as well as John Tortorella of the Columbus Blue Jackets are round out the trifecta for this year’s Adams.
Lady Byng Memorial Trophy – (Sportsmanship)
The Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, formerly known as the Lady Byng Trophy, is presented each year to the National Hockey League player who best exhibits sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.
While the NHL is full of tough guys looking for a fight, the league also has plenty of good-hearted players as well.
Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames joins Mikael Granlund of the Minnesota Wild and Vladimir Tarasenko of thr St. Louis Blues as the final three finalists for “the nice guy award.”
All three are first-time finalists for the Lady Byng Trophy.
Selke Trophy – (Top Defensive Forward)
The Frank J. Selke Trophy is awarded annually to the National Hockey League forward who demonstrates the most skill in the defensive component of the game. The winner is selected by a poll of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association following the regular season.
Boston Bruins’ defender Patrice Bergeron is the projected winner of the Selke Trophy by many NHL experts after gentlemanly tallying 53 points during the season while playing in 79 NHL games.
A three-time Selke Trophy winner, Bergeron is joined by Ryan Kesler of the Anaheim Ducks and Mikko Koivu of the Minnesota Wild.
A consensus oversight among the 2016-17 Selke class is Niklas Backstrom of the Washington Capitals.
Main Image: Auston Matthews poses for a portrait after being selected first overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs in round one during the 2016 NHL Draft on June 24, 2016 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Jeffrey T. Barnes/Getty Images)
Written by Drew Farmer, Special to the Hockey Clan