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Handicapping the expected nominees for the NHL's year-end awards

The Canadian Press
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The Hockey News
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Handicapping the expected nominees for the NHL's year-end awards

The Canadian Press
By:

The voters don't always get it right.

As the NHL starts to unveil the finalists for its year-end awards, The Canadian Press looks at which players will be nominated (and which players should be nominated) for major hardware.

There isn't much of an argument to be made against the Calder Trophy nominees announced Friday: Edmonton's Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Colorado's Gabriel Landeskog and New Jersey's Adam Henrique. All three are deserving.

But it isn't likely to play out the same next week when the finalists for other awards are announced. Here's a look at how we see it unfolding:

Hart Trophy (most valuable player to his team)

Who will be nominated: Evgeni Malkin (Pittsburgh), Steven Stamkos (Tampa), Claude Giroux (Philadelphia).

Who should be nominated: Malkin, Stamkos, Jonathan Quick (Los Angeles).

Skinny: With no disrespect to Giroux, Quick deserves to be part of this group. As the goaltender for the league's lowest-scoring team, he virtually carried the Kings to the playoffs—and he hasn't missed a beat in the first round against Vancouver. Malkin should run away with this award, but it would be a shame if Quick missed out on the nomination.

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Vezina Trophy (outstanding goaltender)

Who will be nominated: Henrik Lundqvist (N.Y. Rangers), Pekka Rinne (Nashville), Jonathan Quick (Los Angeles).

Who should be nominated: Lundqvist, Quick, Mike Smith (Phoenix).

Skinny: Quick should get his due with a nomination here—although it's impossible to predict with any certainty who the NHL's 30 general managers will give the trophy to. There were a number of great performances by goalies this season. Smith is in danger of being dropped from the top three, which would be a shame after his standout 38-win season in the desert.

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Norris Trophy (outstanding all-around defenceman)

Who will be nominated: Zdeno Chara (Boston), Erik Karlsson (Ottawa), Shea Weber (Nashville).

Who should be nominated: Weber, Karlsson, Dan Girardi (N.Y. Rangers).

Skinny: There is arguably more intrigue around this award than any other this season because of the different styles presented by Karlsson and Weber, the two front-runners. Girardi isn't a flashy player—and hasn't generated much Norris hype—but deserves a spot among the finalists after being the backbone for a Rangers team that had a tremendous season.

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Jack Adams (outstanding coach)

Who will be nominated: Ken Hitchcock (St. Louis), John Tortorella (N.Y. Rangers), Kevin Dineen (Florida).

Who should be nominated: Hitchcock, Paul MacLean (Ottawa), Dave Tippett (Phoenix).

Skinny: Hitchcock is considered the prohibitive favourite after taking over the struggling Blues in late October and leading them to second in the Western Conference. Traditionally, the NHL Broadcasters Association has favoured coaches who lead teams to a surprising finish. MacLean is the most deserving on that count for the work he's done in his first year with the Senators.

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Selke Trophy (top defensive forward)

Who will be nominated: Patrice Bergeron (Boston), David Backes (St. Louis), Pavel Datsyuk (Detroit).

Who should be nominated: Bergeron, Backes, Ryan Callahan (N.Y. Rangers)

Skinny: This trophy is almost certain to go to either Bergeron and Backes, the top shutdown forwards on two top teams. And while Datsyuk has virtually owned this award since the lockout, it might be time to give Callahan his due with a nomination. The Rangers captain logs major minutes, a good chunk of it while short-handed.

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Lady Byng (most gentlemanly player)

Who will be nominated: Jordan Eberle (Edmonton), Jason Pominville (Buffalo), Matt Moulson (N.Y. Islanders).

Who should be nominated: Eberle, Nicklas Lidstrom (Detroit), Teemu Selanne (Anaheim).

Skinny: There are no more gentlemanly players or people than Lidstrom and Selanne, both of whom may have played their final NHL season. Neither has been recognized with this award, either. There is a tendency to give this trophy to the best player with the fewest penalty minutes, but it would be nice to see it used to honour the classiest people in the sport.

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Handicapping the expected nominees for the NHL's year-end awards