Every other week, we’ll bring you an updated look at the candidates for the major awards around the NHL…
1. Evgeni Malkin, PIT
Stats: 59 GP, 38 G, 43 A, 81 Pts, +11
Malkin feels like the heavy favorite for the MVP with his tremendous season. In speaking with some Hart Trophy voters, he’s the unanimous choice for the award. Without Sidney Crosby in the lineup, Malkin has elevated his game to new heights – or old heights, if you think back to the 2009 postseason. Malkin is on pace for a career-high 48 goals on a line that has been dominant in this season’s second half. Are the Penguins holding first-round home-ice advantage without ‘Geno? Hell no.
2. Henrik Lundqvist, NYR
Stats: 31-13-5, 1.84 GAA, .937 SV%, 8 SO
At this time of year, we always debate whether goalies should be included in the Hart Trophy discussion. Since they have their own award, goaltenders usually do not get the benefit of the doubt. But if one goalie could break through for the first time since 2002, it’s Lundqvist. When you consider the market he plays in, his team’s success and his career year between the pipes, ‘King Henrik’ is a serious MVP candidate.
3. Steven Stamkos, TB
Stats: 67 GP, 48 G, 34 A, 82 Pts, +5
The prerequisite question everyone asks about an MVP candidate is ‘Where would his team be without him?’ Where would the Lightning be without Stamkos? Gearing up for a top-three draft selection. Stamkos is the lone reason why his team is suddenly within striking distance of a playoff spot. Not only is he in the Art Ross race, a 60-goal campaign isn’t out of the question for Stamkos, who already has this year’s Rocket Richard Trophy on his mantle. Since the All-Star break Stamkos has 16 goals and 29 points in 18 games.
1. Henrik Lundqvist, NYR
Stats: 31-13-5, 1.84 GAA, .937 SV%, 8 SO
As we head into the final weeks of the season, Lundqvist has emerged as the man to beat for the Vezina. His season-long consistency has been amazing, especially coming off the month of February in which he posted an 8-2-0 record with a 1.29 GAA and .951 save percentage. Sensational. Lundqvist has had a bump in the road here in March, but it would have to take a really bad final quarter of the season for him not to win the Vezina.
2. Jonathan Quick, LA
Stats: 27-18-11, 1.96 GAA, .931 SV%, 7 SO
Quick, who also deserves MVP consideration, continues to rise in the Vezina race. Quick has been the catalyst for a Kings team that (a) has been inconsistent all season and (b) has had a hard time scoring goals. On most nights, Quick has had to keep the opposition to one or zero goals just to give the Kings a chance to win. He is ranked in the top three in the following categories – shutouts (T-1st), GAA (3rd) and save percentage (3rd).
3. Pekka Rinne, NSH
Stats: 37-14-7, 2.36 GAA, .925 SV%, 4 SO
Despite a bumpy start to the season, Rinne finds himself in the Vezina conversation for the second year in a row. Rinne’s peripherals are a slight step down from Lundqvist and Quick, but he leads the league in wins and has put the Predators on his back more nights than not. His stat-line since Dec. 8: 27-5-3, 2.20 GAA, .927 save percentage.
1. Erik Karlsson, OTT
Stats: 68 GP, 16 G, 51 A, 67 Pts, +14
Would the upstart Senators be in playoff contention without Karlsson? Probably not. There isn’t much offensive depth for the Sens to begin with, so Karlsson’s league-leading production from the back end (51 assists, 67 points) has been crucial. The 21-year-old is remarkably tied for sixth in the entire NHL in points and is on pace for 79 points. In short, he has been Ottawa’s MVP and is the ‘sexy’ pick for the Norris right now.
2. Shea Weber, NSH
Stats: 63 GP, 14 G, 27 A, 41 Pts, +19
There isn’t much separating the top three (or top seven, for that matter), but Weber means everything to the Preds and is unquestionably one of the best blue-liners in the NHL. He is second on the Preds in points (41), first in plus/minus (+19) and is a big reason why the power play is one of the best in the league. He has frequently had Norris-like performances this season.
3. Zdeno Chara, BOS
Stats: 64 GP, 9 G, 31 A, 40 Pts, +27
Though Chara has lost some ground in the Norris race in the second half, he has been really good of late. In his last nine games, ‘Big Z’ boasts a plus-9 rating with eight points. The Bruins captain is always in this discussion and has been invaluable to the Bruins’ success in recent years. 2011-12 is no different.
1. Gabriel Landeskog, COL
Stats: 69 GP, 18 G, 25 A, 43 Pts, +19
With 13 points in his last 11 games, Landeskog is knocking on the door for the rookie scoring race. The No. 2 overall pick from last summer is raising eyebrows around the league. His all-around play has been impressive for his age, yet something that most scouts expected coming out of the draft. His plus-19 rating is tied for the rookie lead – impressive considering the Avalanche boasting a minus-5 goal differential as a team.
2. Adam Henrique, NJ
Stats: 59 GP, 15 G, 30 A, 45 Pts, +10
To say Henrique has been a pleasant surprise in New Jersey would be an understatement. Henrique is fourth on the Devils in points and was a point-per-game player since the start of November before a drop-off. He may not have the flashiness like other rookies, but he does lead all rookies in points.
3. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, EDM
Stats: 47 GP, 15 G, 25 A, 40 Pts, -7
This was a no-brainer before twice going down with a shoulder injury. ‘RNH’ now has company in the Calder race and has some catching up to do. The top overall pick from this past summer exceeded expectations through the first half, and at times has looked better than other recent No. 1 picks in their rookie seasons.
JACK ADAMS AWARD
1. Ken Hitchcock, STL
Record: 43-18-7, 1st Western Conference
The before and after results of Hitchcock’s arrival in St. Louis is staggering. When Davis Payne was fired, the Blues were 6-7-0; since Hitchcock stepped behind the bench they are 37-11-7. Hitchcock has given the Blues the proper wake-up call, and they are now leading the entire NHL with 93 points. If this success keeps up, he has to be Jack Adams favorite.
2. John Tortorella, NYR
Record: 42-17-7, 1st Eastern Conference
One of the season’s biggest surprises has been the New York Rangers. Aside from the Brad Richards signing, there isn’t much difference between this year’s Rangers and last year’s version. But Tortorella is pushing all of the right buttons as his team leads the Eastern Conference with 91 points (a franchise-record 113-point pace).
3. Barry Trotz, NSH
Record: 39-21-7, 5th Western Conference
Trotz is doing it again. The Predators aren’t just competing for a playoff spot, though, as they are on a mission to hunt down first-round home-ice advantage. Trotz’s gang is 27-10-3 since Dec. 8 (a season-defining comeback in Columbus), as they continue to surge in the West. The Preds have faced adversity a few times this season, but Trotz has kept the team going in the right direction.
*Stats through Thursday, March 8th
Photo credit: Getty Images
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