With training camps and pre-season games starting up across the league, it’s safe to say that the 2018–19 NHL season is here. Though the ultimate goal each season is the Stanley Cup, there’s always the individual awards up for grabs. Here are my picks for each major award for the upcoming NHL season.
Art Ross Trophy (Most Points)
Winner: Connor McDavid — Edmonton Oilers
McDavid is the best offensive player in the NHL right now, which means this award will have his name on it for many years to come. He’s won the title the last two seasons and barring an injury, there’s nothing stopping him from getting the award again. If he stays relatively healthy for the next few seasons the title will continue to remain in his grasp.
Rocket Richard Trophy (Most Goals)
Winner: Patrik Laine — Winnipeg Jets
Alexander Ovechkin has won this award five of the last six seasons and the other guy to win it during that stretch was Sidney Crosby. Well, this is the year that one of those two don’t capture it. In two NHL seasons Laine has 80 goals and has shown that he’s one of the best goal scorers in the NHL. I don’t fully expect Ovechkin to have a Stanley Cup hangover this season, but I think a short offseason will slow him a bit at the start. Due to that, all sign points to Laine beating him in the goals race. This will be a tight battle, but it’ll be won by the Finnish winger, who’ll be capturing his first of a few Rocket Richard’s.
Jack Adams Award (Best Coach)
Winner: Bill Peters — Calgary Flames
Despite having loads of talent, the Flames failed to qualify for the playoffs last season. After revamping the roster during the offseason the Flames are a legit threat to make the playoffs. Aside from San Jose, the Pacific Division is a big time question mark right now, which means two playoff spots are up for grabs in the division. I don’t think the Flames will win the division, but I feel they’ll make their return to the playoffs this season. Bill Peters will play a big role in getting them there and will lock down the Adams because of it.
Calder Memorial Trophy (Top Rookie)
Winner: Rasmus Dahlin — Buffalo Sabres
Dahlin was the first overall pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft so he pretty much enters the season as the favorite to win the award. I haven’t seen Dahlin play a ton of games, but watching him in the prospect games last week showed me the talent this guy possesses. The young defenseman could be one of the games premier d-men in just a few seasons and a strong rookie campaign will help people see what he can do.
Frank J. Selke Award (Best Defensive Forward)
Winner: Patrice Bergeron — Boston Bruins
Nothing against Anze Kopitar, but it’s a crime that Bergeron didn’t win the award last season. There’s no better defensive forward in the NHL than Bergeron. And this isn’t my Boston bias kicking in, it’s the truth. If Bergy stays healthy and plays his game, he’ll capture his fifth Selke. Once he wins the trophy we should start talking about renaming it to the Patrice Bergeron-Cleary Award.
James Norris Memorial Trophy (Best Defenseman)
Winner: Roman Josi — Nashville Predators
Josi has flown under the radar as a premier NHL defenseman for a few years now. The Swiss defender is an all-around talent on the blue line and this year he’ll get his credit. The Predators captain will shed the last of his under-rated cloak and prove to be one of the best defenders in the NHL today. Those that don’t really know who Josi is now will soon learn his name and find out exactly what Nashville has been hiding on their blue line behind P.K. Subban.
Vezina Trophy (Best Goalie)
Winner: Connor Hellebuyck — Winnipeg Jets
Hellebuyck is coming off a career year in net and a runner-up finish in the Vezina voting. The 25-year-old netminder led the league wins last season with 44. Entering the 2018–19 season the Winnipeg Jets have very high expectations. Those expectations start with Hellebuyck in the crease. With another year of experience under his belt, the Michigan native should be set for a big time season in Winnipeg and will collect his first Vezina Trophy at year’s end.
Hart Memorial Trophy (NHL MVP)
Winner: Sidney Crosby — Pittsburgh Penguins
Crosby’s point production has dipped over the last couple of seasons, but for a good reason. Sid recently has been working on his overall game, as opposed to just his offensive game. Crosby is becoming more of a complete player and that’ll pay dividends for him this season. The 31-year-old will still produce offensively, but he’ll also prove his worth in all three zones for the Penguins. A terrific all-around campaign and another playoff birth for the Pens will help Crosby lock up his third NHL MVP title.
Kevin Maggiore (@kevin_maggiore)