In our May 26 “Lists Issue”, we handed out our annual hardware, which differs from the NHL’s offerings that will be revealed tonight in Las Vegas. In case you missed it, here’s who we feel was this season’s best of the best:
Wayne Gretzky Award (MVP): Sidney Crosby
Usually, the Penguins rely on their supporting cast to step up when Crosby is hurt. It was the opposite in 2013-14. He played 80 of 82 games and did so at an elite level.
Runners up: 2. Claude Giroux; 3. Semyon Varlamov; 4. Ryan Getzlaf; 5. Ben Bishop
Mario Lemieux Award (Best Player): Sidney Crosby
A healthy Crosby is the best player of his generation and he didn’t disappoint in a full season, reaching 100 points for the fifth time and winning the scoring title by 17 points.
Runners up: 2. Ryan Getzlaf; 3. Claude Giroux; 4. Patrice Bergeron; 5. Corey Perry
Patrick Roy Award (Best Goalie): Tuukka Rask
Despite concerns about how he’d hold up over an 82-game schedule, all Rask did was finish in the league’s top-five in wins (36), goals-against average (2.04), save percentage (.930) and shutouts (seven).
Runners up: 2. Semyon Varlamov; 3. Ben Bishop; 4. Carey Price; 5. Sergei Bobrovsky
Teemu Selanne Award (Best Rookie): Nathan MacKinnon
Of every active NHLer, only Sidney Crosby scored more than MacKinnon’s 63 points as an 18-year-old. The Avs rookie is as fast and furious as we hoped.
Runners up: 2. Ondrej Palat; 3. Torey Krug; 4. Jacob Trouba; 5. Olli Maatta
Bobby Orr Award (Best Defenseman): Zdeno Chara
At 37, the b’s behemoth has yet to show signs of decline. His 17 goals tied for the second most of his career and he logged 24:39 a game against opponents’ stars.
Runners up: 2. Duncan Keith; 3. Shea Weber; 4. Erik Karlsson; 5. Ryan Suter
Guy Carbonneau Award (Top Penalty Killer): Sean Couturier
No forward averaged more shorthanded minutes than Couturier, who helped the Flyers finish seventh in penalty killing. His presence was crucial on a team that led the league in penalty minutes per game.
Runners up: 2. Patrice Bergeron; 3. Tomas Plekanec; 4. Tyler Johnson; 5. Adam Henrique
Bob Probert Award (Best Fighter): Luke Gazdic
Gazdic fought 15 times, third-most in the league, and compiled an 11-2-2 record according to hockeyfights.com. Lost to Brian McGrattan, but still wins the belt because he threw down far more often.
Runners up: 2. Brian McGrattan; 3. Rich Clune; 4. Chris Neil; 5. Tom Wilson
John Ferguson Award (Toughest Player): Zdeno Chara
Chara laughed when Detroit’s Brendan Smith, 6-foot-2 and 198 pounds, tried to fight him. The 6-foot-9, 255-pound monster is the NHL’s most feared player.
Runners up: 2. David Backes; 3. Radko Gudas; 4. Shea Weber; 5. Milan Lucic
Rod Langway Award (Best Defensive Defenseman): Zdeno Chara
Advanced stats say Chara faced the NHL’s third-toughest quality of competition, yet he ranked 12th in Corsi Close among D-men. Second on the Bruins in hits and blocks.
Runners up: 2. Marc-Edouard Vlasic; 3. Ryan Suter; 4. Alex Pietrangelo; 5. Niklas Hjalmarsson
Saku Koivu Award (Comeback Player): Manny Malhotra
Carolina gave Malhotra a shot after Vancouver decided his eye injury made him unfit to play. He responded by posting the NHL’s No. 2 faceoff percentage.
Runners up: 2. Willie Mitchell; 3. Jaromir Jagr; 4. Dominic Moore; 5. Josh Harding
Cam Neely Award (Breakout player): Ben Bishop
Big ben won 37 games with a .924 SP in his first full season as an NHL starter. If he’d stayed healthy for the playoffs, Tampa’s fate could’ve been different.
Runners up: 2. Ryan Johansen; 3. Tyler Seguin; 4. Kyle Okposo; 5. Gustav Nyquist
Pavel Bure Award (Best Shootout Shooter): T.J. Oshie
Oshie’s four-goal Olympic shootout magic was amazing and also no fluke. Back home in the NHL, he scored nine times on 12 shots and notched a league-best five shootout-winning goals.
Runners up: 2. Joffrey Lupul; 3. Frans Nielsen; 4. Sean Monahan; 5. Jordan Eberle
Gilles Villemure Award (Best Shootout Goalie): Marc-Andre Fleury
Fleury criticism never extends to shootouts, as he’s always dynamite there. He stopped 23 of 28 attempts and went 6-2, including 4-0 on the road. His 45 shootout wins rank third all-time.
Runners up: 2. Tim Thomas; 3. Martin Jones; 4. Ben Bishop; 5. Eddie Lack