As the next installment of our NHL Preseason Preview, we jump ahead to the end of the season and give our predictions on who will take away the hardware at the 2015 NHL Awards. Last year, Sidney Crosby cleaned house at the awards, but will he be as successful this year? Probably not.
Hart Memorial Trophy (NHL MVP): Steven Stamkos
As deep and talented the Western Conference teams are, the Eastern Conference has its fair share of top-tier players. Last year, Sidney Crosby took home the Hart Trophy and this year, we think it could be another player from the East. Steven Stamkos is leading a rising Tampa Bay team who we ranked as the best team in the Eastern Conference. The lack of stiff competition for Tampa Bay to play against will give Stamkos a splendid opportunity to put up big numbers and rack up wins for his team.
Vezina Trophy (Best Goalie): Henrik Lundqvist
King Henrik turned into a brick wall during the playoffs, continuing what is already one of the most consistent goaltending careers in the history of the NHL. There has been no sign of the King slowing down over the years and last year’s playoff run furthered that idea. Motivated by last year’s Stanley Cup Finals defeat, the potential for Lundqvist to have an even better season is there, which is scary for all other teams in the Eastern Conference.
Norris Trophy (Best Defenseman): Drew Doughty
The best defenseman on the best team in the league is a good formula for a Norris Trophy winner. The Kings’ defense often gets overshadowed by their explosive and flashy offense, but do not be mistaken, the Los Angeles blue-liners can shut down the best of them. Doughty leads a potent group and his two Stanley Cup rings and two gold medals in four years solidify his greatness.
Calder Trophy: John Gibson
John Gibson was one of the greatest underrated stories of the 2014 playoffs. Given valuable playing time in the playoffs last year, Gibson came up big for the Ducks after Fredericks Andersen went down with a serious leg injury. Assuming Gibson is awarded the starting job for a majority of the season, he is bound to raise some eyebrows from opposing coaches around the league.
Selke Trophy: Anze Kopitar
Remember what we said about being the best at what you do on the best team in the league? Well Anze Kopitar is another one of those players that can easily come away with some hardware based on this theory. Kopitar can do it all on both sides of the ice and if the Kings can continue to be as dominant as they have been over the last three years, Kopitar could very come away with the award.
Jack Adams Trophy: Jon Cooper
We picked the Lightning to be the best, if not one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference this season. Of course, the Lightning have not been known for such a distinguishing. Through excellent offseason acquisitions, drafting and, of course, coaching, Jon Cooper has Tampa Bay in prime position to make a legitimate run at the Stanley Cup. Cooper convinced his core to buy into his system and stick around for the long run and this is the year that we find out if that waiting paid off.