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Too Early Preseason Predictions for NHL Awards

by Photo of Connor McCollum

The goal is Lord Stanley’s Cup, but these players may earn some hardware of their own

Too Early Preseason Predictions for NHL Awards

With the NHL season only two days away, it seems fitting to make a preseason list of potential trophy winners, right? Granted, there are 82 games and some postseason hockey on the horizon, but why not look ahead? The ultimate goal is Lord Stanley’s trophy, which goes without saying, but the NHL has other prestigious awards to offer to exceptional hockey players both on and off the ice.

The Hart Memorial trophy recognizes the league’s MVP. It is awarded to the player that does the most work for their team, the leagues most outstanding player. Last year’s recipient, Sidney Crosby (if he can remain healthy) looks poised to pull off a repeat performance. The Pittsburgh Penguins are always strong contenders in the Eastern Conference. Much of that consistency is due to Crosby’s presence on the ice. Last year, Crosby tallied a league-leading 104 points. Health is the big variable, but he shows no signs of slowing down.

The Vezina Trophy is awarded to the regular season's top performing goaltender. Following the 2013-2014 season, it was Tuuka Rask of the Boston Bruins that earned his first Vezina. Rask was in the top five among goalies in wins (36), save percentage (.930) and goals against average (2.04). With some key losses defensively, it seems a bit less likely Rask will repeat as the Vezina winner. This award is often a tough one to call. Even a great goaltender needs good defense in front of him to win games. The contenders are the usual suspects: Johnathan Quick in LA, Henrik Lundqvist in New York, a healthy Pekka Rinne in Nashville. Any of the above may have a shot of winning, but just to throw a possible dark horse in the mix, if he gets defensive support and remains healthy, Carey Price may have a nice season for the Montreal Canadiens.

The Norris Trophy is awarded to the NHL player who excels in both offensive and defensive duties. Last season, Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith earned the honor. Over the years, the award is generally gifted to defensemen. Some players that may be in the conversation come the end of the season: Ryan McDonaugh (New York Rangers), P.K. Subban (Montreal Canadians), Duncan Keith (Blackhawks) and Erik Karlsson (Ottawa Senators).

As we are nearly on the eve of NHL regular season puck drop, these are some of the players that may be ready to take a big leap in their careers. Despite the history and tradition of these awards, there is still always only one trophy on the mind of every NHL player. It weighs 30 pounds, and every player dreams to hoist it over their head. It's Lord Stanley's Cup, and the journey to claim it starts soon.

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