Monday, June 9, 2008


With the NHL season behind us, it is now time to begin our quest into the off-season in preparation for the 2008-09 campaign.

Before saying goodbye to the season that was, we must do two things:

-Welcome a new crop of talent into the NHL with the draft on June 20th, and;
-Hand out some hardware to some individuals who excelled at the game this season (and that's what we're going to predict tonight).

Let's get to it with Habs Hockey-Talkey's own (and yours truly) Sal Amato's picks.


given to the NHL's top player, voted by the NHLPA

  • Jarome Iginla, Calgary
  • Alexander Ovechkin, Washington
  • Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh

An elite list of players mentionned above (as will be the case for all the awards of course). Despite the calibre of the forwards on this list, it will be hard to overlook the incredible season put on display by Alexander Ovechkin, a.k.a. Alexander the Gr8. His constant excitement, hard-hitting style, natural ability to tickle the twine and his overall fan-favorite personality virtually guarantees him as the consensus pick among the NHL's players' association.


awarded to the player who shows perseverance and dedication to hockey

  • Jason Blake, Toronto
  • Chris Chelios, Detroit
  • Fernando Pisani, Edmonton

Difficult to choose amongst this group, and it was hard to see a guy like Jose Thoedore left off the list as well. As we all know, Blake was diagnosed with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia, which he described as "highly-treatable". The prognosis is for him to live a full, normal life. Pisani was striken with ulcerative colitis, a chronic inflammation of the large intestine. The abnormality caused him to miss the first 26 games of the regular season. Chelios, on the other hand, is nominated because of his age. At 46, Chris is exemplifying top-level fitness and determination, but will likely be overlooked in this selection. Although Blake is a cancer-victim, his condition allowed him to play in every NHL game, whereas Pisani had to miss time, and has reportedly been battling this problem for many years. This is why my choice is Fernando Pisani.


awarded to the best coach in the NHL

  • Bruce Boudreau, Washington
  • Mike Babcock, Detroit
  • Guy Carbonneau, Montreal

The only Hab nominated for an award is the man with the popular Hermes tie. Benchboss Guy Carbonneau is a deserved nominee as he led his Canadiens to first spot overall in the Eastern Conference in a season that so many had written off prior to the puck hitting the ice for the 1st game. Boudreau was able to rally the Capitals after an abysmal start under then-coach Glen Hanlon, allowing the Caps to clinch the Southeast Divison and knock the Carolina Hurricanes out of the race on the very last night of the regualr season. Babcock, as we all know now, captured the Presidents trophy (team with the most points in the reg. season) and the Stanley Cup with a fantastic blend of youth and experience. All of these coaches are deserving in their own way, but only one can win, and in my mind, my choice has to be (sorry to break your hearts fellow Habs fans) Mike Babcock. His hockey-savvy was a little better than Carbo's, and his ability to use his depth in offensive ways (i.e. Franzen, Hudler and Filppula) demonstrated great hockey sense and tactical knowledge. Some may argue that Babcock has the all-time best coach Scotty Bowman to rely on, but what it all boils down to is that Bowman isn't behind the bench; Babcock is, and he's the guy that the players have to buy in to, which they did.


awarded to the NHL's top defensive forward

  • John Madden, New Jersey
  • Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit
  • Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit

This award could also be named the Bob Gainey award, as he really was the innovator of the defensive-minded forward, winning the award in the first four years of it's existence (1978-81). No one has won it as many times as he did (4). Should Madden win, it would be his second (the other in 2001). He was also runner-up in 2003 and 2004, which goes to show how excellent he is in his own end. But the Detroit duo are no slouches themselves, usually on the ice to shut-down the opposition's top line and then counter-attacking to score at the other end. When it came to defending this season, Zetterberg was excellent, and Datsyuk (at least this year), was Excellent (notice the capital E). Datsyuk had a league-high 144 takeaways and was also a league-high +41, all the while totalling just 20 penalty minutes. I believe this is why Pavel Datsyuk will win this award.


awarded to the player best exemplifying gentlemanly conduct

  • Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit
  • Jason Pominville, Buffalo
  • Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay

It will be very hard to overlook Datsyuk for this award as well, particulalry due to the fact that he won this award the last two times it was handed out. Datsyuk's 20 PIM's, 31 goals and 97 points line him up perfectly to sweep up the award again and notch the trifecta. Pominville had an impressive 80 points while also registering just 20 PIM's, while St. Louis had 83 points and 26 PIM's playing alongside Vinny Lecavalier. The decision, once again, goes to Pavel Datsyuk.


awarded to the NHL player judged to be the best in his rookie season

  • Nicklas Backstrom, Washington
  • Patrick Kane, Chicago
  • Jonathan Toews, Chicago

To me, this one WOULD HAVE gone to Toews had he completed the full season. Instead, he missed 16 games due to a knee injury. The race is now between Kane and Backstrom. Kane started the season with 16 points in October as an 18-year-old, the most points by an NHL rookie in the season's opening month since 1992-93. He eventually finished with the rookie lead in points (72, PPG (7) and PPP (28). Backstrom had 69, but only began to turn it on once Boudreau took over and ushered him back to his natural center position, all the while increasing his ice time. However, Patrick Kane was the much-needed spark in a usually empty Chicago arena, and his stats give him the extra boost needed to capture this award.


awarded to the NHL's top defenseman

  • Nicklas Lidstrom, Detroit
  • Dion Phaneuf, Calgary
  • Zdeno Chara, Boston

I should have stopped typing after I wrote the first nominee, because this award is going to Nicklas Lidstrom, hands down. Phaneuf will capture this, just not quite yet, and not as long as Lidstrom is around and playing this calibre of hockey. Chara was a filler here, almost as much so as Phaneuf was, simply due to the extremely reliable and solid play of Lidstrom.


awarded to the NHL's top goaltender

  • Evgeni Nabokov, San Jose
  • Martin Brodeur, New Jersey
  • Henrik Lundqvist, New York R.

It's a good indication of how difficult it is to get goals in the Atlantic Division when two of their goalies are nominated for the Vezina. Lundqvist and Brodeur are relied on to play lights-out hockey on a nightly basis, and, if he had a better team in front of him, Rick DiPietro could also be on this list as well. Also, if he can continue the way he played in the playoffs, Marc Andre Fleury can be here, too. Lundqvist and Brodeur saw a lot of each other this year, rgeular season and post-season, with Lundqvist's side advancing further. But, we still haven't spoken about Nabokov yet...what a year he had! We are so used to just giving this to Brodeur that the other guys are usually write-offs. But Nabby appeared in 77 regular-season contests this year (same as Brodeur), winning 46, two more than Marty B. His 2.14 goals-against average was third in the NHL and topped his previous best of 2.19 in 2000-01 when he won the Calder Trophy. He started the first 43 games of the season, winning 25 of them. He won 25 games all of last season when he played in only 50. Despite perennial finalist Martin Brodeur and 3-season-3-time-finalist Henrik Lundqvist being there to challenge, I believe first-time finalist Evgeni Nabokov will capture the award.


awarded to the player judged to be the best in the league

  • Jarome Iginla, Calgary
  • Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh
  • Alexander Ovechkin, Washington

Deja-vu! Same nominees and same type of award as the Lester Pearson (see WAY above, first on the list). The difference is that the winner is selected in a poll of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association in all NHL cities at the end of the regular season...but the results will match the description for the Pearson anyways, so I will COPY PASTE IT! Despite the calibre of the forwards on this list, it will be hard to overlook the incredible season put on display by Alexander Ovechkin, a.k.a. Alexander the Gr8. His constant excitement, hard-hitting style, natural ability to tickle the twine and his overall fan-favorite personality virtually guarantees him as the consensus pick for this award, as well!


Other awards have already been decided, including the Art Ross and Rocket Richard awards. To see them, visit

There you have it! Feel free to agree or disagree in the comments section below!

The awards ceremony is on CBC this Thursday, June 12th, at 8 p.m.

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