With the NHL's regular season now complete we'll have our own local awards presentation for the New York Rangers, New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils (ok, it's not an actual presentation but just this post, so no one will have to don a tux for this event unless one feels like dressing up to read their daily sports news). Besides giving out the traditional awards (Vezina, Art Ross, etc.) to the locals, we'll also take the liberty of making some up. So without further ado, here they are:
Nick Fotiu Award (Most Fighting Majors): Not only did Brandon Prust lead the locals in fighting majors, with 20, but he was on top of the whole league (actually tied with Shawn Thornton), symbolizing the new Rangers, who don't back down from anyone these days, as they also led the NHL in fighting majors, with 65. Rounding out the top 20 are Matt Martin (15), who tied for seventh in the league, Mike Rupp (13 fights, 12th place) and Stu Bickel (12 fights, tied for 13th). Eric Boulton and Cam Janssen were tied for 24th, with nine fights apiece. Prust also piled up the most penalty minutes (156) of players on the three area teams.
Scott Stevens Award (Most Hits): The Islanders' Matt Martin led all three teams in hits, with 374, after last season's 299, and it wasn't even close, as Ryan Callahan was second with 271. Martin also scored a career-high seven goals this year, and would have made Stevens proud with his hard-hitting approach to the game. Anton Volchenkov led the Devils, with 177.
Mike Bossy Award (Most Power-Play Goals): The legendary Islander scoring machine recorded a whopping 181 goals with the man advantage in his career, so it's only fitting that an Islander have the most power-play goals, and Matt Moulson did just that, with 14. Callahan was next, with 13, and Ilya Kovalchuk was New Jersey's leader, with 10.
Rod Seiling Award (Best Plus/Minus): It's a little known fact that Seiling (who played defense for the Rangers from 1964 to '74) is the all-time Blueshirts leader in plus/minus, with a plus-208 (well, it was little known to me anyway). This year, Ryan McDonagh finished on top, at a plus-25. Bryce Salvador was best for the Devils (plus-18), and Travis Hamonic led the Islanders (plus-6).
David Clarkson Award (Exceeds Expectations): Not only is David Clarkson the winner but we just went ahead and named the award after him as well. Who could have imagined the Devils' tough guy scoring 30 goals this season? He notched career highs in all offensive categories, with 16 assists to go with his 30 goals, giving him 46 points, along with eight power-play goals. His previous bests all came in 2008-'09, when he scored 17 goals, with 15 assists, for 32 points, and recorded four power-play goals.
Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award: Ryan Callahan already won this award in real life so we'll give it to him here as well. While there are plenty of local players who go the extra mile and always hustle and work hard, the Rangers' captain seems to do just a little bit more than everyone else. He scored a career-high 29 goals this season, and added 25 assists, for 54 points (also a career best).
Bryan Trottier Award (Most Assists): Who racked up the highest single-season assist total in New York/New Jersey history? That would be Trottier, who had 87 in the 1978-'79 season, the year he won the Art Ross Trophy. While a couple of Islanders came close (John Tavares notched 50 assists and P.A. Parenteau 49), Patrik Elias recorded the most helpers this year, with 52 (he also scored 26 goals, for 78 points). Brad Richards led the Rangers, with 41.
Jack Adams Trophy: While Pete DeBoer deserves credit for getting the Devils back in the playoffs after a one-year absence and, really, just for holding onto his job, as qualifying for the postseason is no guarantee that Lou Lamoriello will keep one behind the bench to finish the season, it's John Tortorella who easily is the coach of the year among the three teams, and could certainly win the real award as well. The Rangers don't necessarily have No. 1-seed talent yet Tortorellla's team finished on top, mainly because everyone on the roster (including the few stars they possess) bought into his tough, hard-working, shot-blocking, tenacious system and philosophy. Sure, he rubs some the wrong way and can be churlish and surly at times, but whatever his method, it worked.
Calder Trophy (Rookie of the Year): Adam Henrique beats out Carl Hagelin (14 goals, 24 assists, 38 points, plus-21) for this award, with his impressive play that can be seen on the stat sheet, with his 16 goals, 35 assists and 51 points, and he was a plus-8. With the Devils shorthanded at center early in the season, Henrique stepped in and filled the void, playing with the poise of a veteran. Though he tailed off the last few months, he's still the winner.
Norris Trophy: This award will be tabulated based on a complicated system of combined plus/minus, hits, blocked shots and points (ok, it's not really that complicated). And the winner is Dan Girardi (plus-13, 211 hits, 185 blocks, 29 points), which sounds about right. From the first game of the season, he stepped up in Marc Staal's absence and became a true No. 1 defenseman, which earned him a berth on the All-Star team and this (sort of) highly coveted honor.
Rocket Richard Trophy (Most Goals): Marian Gaborik is living proof that the Rangers have entered a new age, one in which the team is constructed the proper way through mainly homegrown players, but one in which even their high-ticket free agents are working out. His 41 goals this season give him 40-plus in two of his three years with the Rangers. And he's become only the third Ranger to have two or more seasons of 40 or more goals, with Jean Ratelle and Mike Gartner being the others. Kovalchuk led the Devils, with 37, while Moulson was the Islanders' leader, with 36.
Art Ross Trophy (Most Points): This was a race to the finish line between Kovalchuk and Tavares, and Kovalchuk came out on top thanks to his eight points in the last five games spurt. His 83 points (37 goals, 46 assists) just edged out Tavares' 81 (31 goals, 50 assists). Gaborik led the Rangers, with 76 (41 goals, 35 assists).
Vezina Trophy: We don't need any convoluted formulas for this one, as it's a no-brainer that Henrik Lundqvist was the best goalie of the three teams and should go on to win this honor for real. While Martin Brodeur steadily improved as the season went on, and is of course one of the greatest goalies ever to play in the NHL, and Evgeni Nabokov gave the Islanders a steady presence in nets, Lundqvist had the best season of his career, with a 1.97 GAA, .930 save percentage, eight shutouts and 39 wins. He has certainly been the King this year.
Hart Trophy: Ok, now it's your turn. Who deserves to win the local Hart Trophy as the New York area's MVP? Here are the candidates: Henrik Lundqvist, Ryan Callahan, Marian Gaborik, Dan Girardi, Ilya Kovalchuk, Patrik Elias and John Tavares.