Since the NHL Awards Nominations came out, guys like Captain Bosh, and Bob McKenzie gave their predictions on who will win. I feel it is my duty, nay, my calling that requires me to follow suit and be the sheep that is led to slaughter.....wait a minute-- that didn't sound good at all. Well, here goes nothing:
Hart Memorial Trophy (Most Valuable to Team)
Winner: Joe Thornton: With all do respect to Miikka Kiprusoff and Jaromir Jagr; Thornton showed how valuable to a team and the players around him he is. When he left Boston, the guys he center, Sergei Samsonov and Glen Murray, dropped off the scoring map; while when he arrived in San Jose, Jonathan Cheechoo was allowed to bloom into the start he has become to this moment. Since that's what this award is all about, you have to go with Thornton.
Vezina Trophy (Best Goalie)
Winner: Miikka Kiprusoff: Kipper won the William Jennings Trophy for fewest goals against this season, he had 10 shutouts, and was battling down the stretch. Even though you should never count out Martin Brodeur, it's time to give Kipper the nod, especially on a defense first team that the Flames have been, while the Devils start heading the fun-and-gun style.
Calder Trophy (Best Rookie)
Winner: Alex Ovechkin: Come on, this kid is the reason the NHL is looking good with their new changes. Plus, AO is the kind of kid who could change a game with a hit, shot, pass, or rush up ice. If the old adage of goals being "sexier" than assist, AO should be winning this award in a walk over Sidney Crosby and Dion Phaneuf, both whom could have won the award if not for the two rookie classes merging together.
Norris Trophy (Best Defenseman)
Winner: Nicklas Lidstrom: Lidstrom had his first 80+ point season, he had more minutes than Scott Niedermayer and Sergei Zubov, he had a better +/- than both, and played very good as a whole in his own zone. The biggest question is how Zdeno Chara was not nominated for this award.
Lester B. Pearson Award (NHLPA MVP)
Winner: Alex Ovechkin: Many players were asked this year who is the player you'd pay to see and more often than not, Ovechkin's name came up. However, if he does get beaten out, this shows you how much of an impact Ovechkin has made on his peers to be nominated for this award as a rookie in the NHL.
Jack Adams Award (Best Coach)
Winner: Lindy Ruff: Here's the longest tenured coach in the NHL at eight seasons, and then he goes off with a rag-tag bunch of grinders and scrapers to win 52 games and go into the second round in the playoffs after three seasons of not even making it to the dance. Peter Laviolette has done a bang up job in Carolina, which should be noted, but I think Ruff will outshine Laviolette.
Selke Award (Defensive Forward)
Winner: Jere Lehtinen: Though he quietly had a 30+ goal season, he's a warrior on the forecheck and defensive situations. However, this award is as wide open as anything else out there. It all depends on how the voters see the aspects of each games and then the meaning of the award.
Lady Byng Award (Most Sportsmanlike)
Winner: Pavel Datsyuk: I'm only choosing this because they are finalist and picked Datsyuk because he had less PIMs than Brad Richards and Patrick Marleau.
Of course, this is one mans opinion. If you want to voice yours, there's a thread at the Face Off Hockey Show Message Board where you can spout off like I have here. Plus, we can see Sean self-destruct when the King Clancy award is mentioned. If you want to watch the awards, they'll be taking place on June 22nd, but I don't know which stations will have the broadcast. More than likely TSN in Canada and good luck in the States, though OLN a/k/a Versus will more than likely bump Ted Nugent to broadcast them