Hockey

A Way Too Early Prediction for 2016-17 NHL Awards

Calder Memorial Trophy – Auston Matthews

U.S.A.  U.S.A.  U.S.A.  Matthews joins a short list of American born players selected number one overall.  I’m on the Auston Matthews train.  The 6ft 2in, 216 lb center will have a monster season…  If he can manage to stay out of the Brass Rail and focus on hockey.  Matthews will be 19 at the start of the season, but his age won’t prevent him from having a ROY-caliber season.

Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy – Vladimir Tarasenko

8, 21, 37, and 40.  Tarasenko has increased his goal production in each of his first four NHL seasons.  Look for Tarasenko to find the back of the net 45+ times in 2016-17.  Plus, picking Alex Ovechkin would be way too easy here; something tells me that Washington’s early playoff exit will have an impact on Alex and Co. in the upcoming season.  Kane has only eclipsed 30 goals once…  Last season.  So he won’t do it.  Jamie Benn will be busy being all captain-y.  Tarasenko is the next logical choice.

James Norris Memorial Trophy – Brent Burns

Brent Burns was a scoring-machine in 2015-16, finding the back of the net 27 times.  Pretty impressive for a defenseman.  Look for Burns to maintain his point production in the upcoming season while drastically improving his plus/minus rating.  It’s this attention to his own defensive zone that will earn Burns his first Norris Trophy.

Vezina Trophy – Henrik Lundqvist

“…in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death, taxes, and Henrik Lundqvist.”  – Benjamin Franklin.

Ok, maybe that’s not how it went.  In 2014-15, Lundqvist had a down year by Lundqvist-standards.  Unfortunately for him, he faced a league high 1,944 shots.  That’s a lot of rubber.  Head coach Alain Vigneault will have to change the team’s style of play in order to cut down on the shots Henrik faces.  If he adjusts, look for Lundqvist to put up spectacular numbers.

Hart Memorial Trophy – Jamie Benn

The Jamie Benn ascension will continue in 2016-17.  Benn will miss the World Cup of Hockey this September because he’s focusing on, “Giving everything I have to this organization…”  A noble move by a terrific captain and an even better player.  Benn’s decision to focus on getting healthy will pay off with a Hart Memorial Trophy and a deeper 2016-17 Stanley Cup Playoff run.

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