Guest Author - Kevin Thorburn
June 10, 2004 will see the National Hockey League hand out the hardware to the most deserving players … or will the winners truly be the most deserving? Read on and you will find out who will win and who should have won, should that case arise.
First, we have the Hart Trophy for the league’s most valuable player. Nominated are: Martin Brodeur; Jerome Iginla; and Martin St. Louis. This one should be easy. St. Louis led the league in scoring and his team, the Tampa Bay Lightning, to the top spot in the Eastern Division. St. Louis, deservedly so, will be the winner.
Now let’s look at the Vezina Trophy which goes to the top goaltender. We have Martin Brodeur; Miikka Kiprusoff; and Roberto Luongo. This one is tough. Brodeur will be the winner. How else can the NHL justify nominating him for the Hart Trophy if he isn’t the league's best puck stopper? Kiprusoff could have easily won this award had he played in more games for the Flames. Luongo had a young, albeit improving, defence in front of him and performed remarkably, and that makes him most deserving.
Next up will be the Calder Trophy for the league’s top rookie. The nominees are: Trent Hunter; Andrew Raycroft; and Michael Ryder. Without question Raycroft will leave with the award and it is difficult to say he isn’t deserving, but Ryder put up enough points in a season where the goaltender seemed to have the advantage to win the prize as well. Although Ryder should win by a hair, the league will want a goaltender to win the trophy.
The Norris Trophy goes to the top defenceman. Zdeno Chara, Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger are up for the prize. This is another tough decision as all three are certainly deserving. Pronger will win the award as he had a stellar season and he won the award in 2000. One look at past winners shows that multiple winners seem to be the trend with this trophy. Chara cemented the stingy Senator’s defence and is most deserving of the trio.
The Selke Trophy is awarded to the top defensive forward. Nominated are: Kris Draper; Alyn McCauley; and John Madden. Draper, the most deserving of the three, will leave with the hardware.
The Jack Adams Award goes to the top coach in the league. Darryl Sutter of the Flames, John Tortorella of the Lightning and Ron Wilson of the Sharks are the nominees. Sutter will, deservedly, win the award even though very strong arguments can be made for the other two, especially Wilson in the over-looked city of San Jose.
Well, watch for award night to come and see if these picks hold up. It will be interesting to see if they give a passing grade.