By Jeff O’Connor
Hart – The Hart Trophy is awarded to the league’s Most Valuable Player. It has not resided in the Western Conference since 2010-11 thanks to guys named Evgeni, Sidney and Ovie. This is the year it goes back there. He missed 13 games last year and he probably would have been right in the mix had he played the full slate of games. That guy is Patrick Kane. Since he burst on the scene, the Blackhawks have been nearly unstoppable. As opposed to the aforementioned guys, I still don’t think we’ve seen his best. He’s 25…he is still evolving as a player. I think we’ll see that this year.
Art Ross – Sidney Crosby. Again. He scores and dishes the puck better than anyone. He is only 27. He beat everyone else in the league by 17 points in 2013-14. There was nobody near his level of play last year. That continues into this year. The only interesting thing for Crosby is will any of his production or level of play change under new head coach Mike Johnson? We shall see.
Vezina – Ben Bishop. In his first full season as a starter, he put up ridiculous numbers. 37-14-7/2.23/.924. If he hadn’t gotten hurt, he would have claimed it. Unfortunately, he plays in such a small media market, he probably won’t get the respect he truly deserves. I don’t believe he’s hit his ceiling yet, either. There may be another level to his game.
Jack Adams – Without any superstars in their prime, a goaltender that will be the No. 1 for the first time in his life and a young defense, I see Pete DeBoer of the New Jersey Devils winning the Jack Adams trophy. When the Devils finished 6th in the East in 2012, there was a lot of buzz and support for DeBoer to be considered for the Jack Adams. If the Devils make the postseason, I see him as an ideal fit for the honor.
Norris – Drew Doughty. What more does this guy have to do pick up a Norris. He is an absolute stud on the offensive end and is extremely efficient in the defensive end. His defensive play is even more impressive when you consider he’s a bit smaller in size compared to some of the other elite D-Men in the league. Sure he’s got two Cups, but he finally gets his due this year in the form of a James Norris Trophy.
Calder – Not going out on much of a limb here, but I can’t see how it won’t be Jon Drouin. Compared to the other sports, it is easier for a young kid to come in and dominate right away. I think he’ll do exactly what Crosby, Kane, Ovechkin, etc. did when they came in…tear it up. The guy scored 70 goals in 95 games in the QMJHL. Johnny Gaudreau should be really good and I would think if John Gibson plays a lot for the Ducks, he’ll be in the mix too.
Rocket Richard – Steven Stamkos. He had an absurd 60 goals in 2011-12. Last year he missed more than half the season with a broken leg. Even still, he recorded 25 goals in 37 games. He’s another guy with unlimited potential.
Selke – This will go to Anze Kopitar of the LA Kings. He was darn close last year and he will get there this season. He got off to a slow start last season and then over the last 70 games, he really elevated his level of play at both ends of the rink. He wins a lot of draws, shuts down the other team’s top lines and oh yea…he pumps in a lot of goals himself. Like Doughty, it’s his time. Since the year 2011-12, he has finished 9th, 4th and 2nd in the Selke vote. Again…it’s his time.