As part of this process, we are looking at six of the NHL's major annual awards and selecting who we consider the winners 20 games into the season.
Here is a Trophy Tracker glimpse at the Norris, Calder and Adams trophies roughly 20 games into the season.
Norris Trophy (Top defenseman) -- The San Jose Sharks have been among the NHL's elite this season and the play of Dan Boyle has been a big reason why. He is averaging more than 26 minutes per game, is a skilled puck-moving defenseman, a calming, experienced hand on the backline and one of the leading scorers among defensemen with 4 goals and 14 assists in his first 20 games. You have to figure Boyle's strong play also will result in a berth with Team Canada for the 2010 Olympics.
Chris Pronger, Philadelphia Flyers -- The big fella has been everything advertised for the Flyers. He's averaging 27 minutes per game and is a plus-13 in 17 games and is third on the team in scoring with 4 goals and 13 assists in 17 games. Plus, he is an intimidating presence in the defensive zone, but also has kept his penalty minutes in check (26 minutes).
Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings -- The Kings have been one of the season's success stories -- 11-7-2 in 20 games -- and the play of Doughty has been one of the most important chapters in that story. Keep in mind that Doughty is a 2008 first-round pick who already is excelling as a sophomore. He is averaging nearly 24 minutes per game and is proving to be a very capable player -- wise beyond his tender years.
Honorable mention -- Tomas Kaberle, Toronto Maple Leafs, Mike Green, Washington Capitals, Duncan Keith, Chicago Blackhawks, Alex Goligoski, Pittsburgh Penguins, Matt Carle, Philadelphia Flyers
How 2009 Finalists are faring -- Zdeno Chara, the 2009 Norris winner scored 1 goal and 10 assists in 20 games and is plus-2. Washington's Mike Green has scored 3 goals and 15 assists in 19 games and is plus-2. The Red Wings' Nicklas Lidstrom has been quiet offensively with 1 goal and 6 assists in 18 games, but is plus-11, playing more than 24 minutes per game.
Tyler Myers, Buffalo Sabres -- Making it as a defenseman is one tough task, but Myers, the No. 12 selection of the '08 Entry Draft is making it look easy. Of course, being blessed with the size of Zdeno Chara and Chris Pronger doesn't hurt. Myers stands 6-foot-8 and 222 pounds. In 17 games, Myers has chipped in offensively with 3 goals and 6 assists, is a plus-5 and averages 21:18 minutes per game.
Ryan O'Reilly, Colorado Avalanche -- Much attention was paid to the No. 33 pick of the '09 Entry Draft when he made the Avalanche out of training camp. And the attention has proven to be justified as O'Reilly is among the rookie scoring leaders with 4 goals and 11 assists, is a plus-12, averaging 16:42 per game.
Honorable mention -- Michael Del Zotto, New York Rangers, James van Riemsdyk, Philadelphia Flyers, Evander Kane, Atlanta Thrashers, Niclas Bergfors, New Jersey Devils
How 2009 Finalists are faring -- Steve Mason was a revelation for the Columbus Blue Jackets last season, going 33-20-7. This time around, Mason is 7-5-2 with a 3.67 goals-against average in 14 appearances. Anaheim's Bobby Ryan netted 31 goals and 26 assists in 64 games last season. In 19 games this season, he has 8 goals and 5 assists. Chicago's Kris Versteeg scored 22 goals and 31 assists last season and has scored 4 goals and 8 assists in 18 games this season.
Terry Murray, Los Angeles Kings -- Armed with an interesting blend of kids and veterans, Murray has done an excellent job of getting everyone on the same page and creating a buzz for the Kings thus season. He has shown patience when needed and has been unafraid to kick some tail, as well.
Dan Bylsma, Pittsburgh Penguins -- With the Penguins among the top teams in the Eastern Conference so far, despite more than a few injuries, Bylsma has proven to be more than a one-year wonder or short-term solution. The Pens continue to play smart, excel and win under Bylsma in his first full season, just as they did when he took over last season.
Honorable mention -- Jacques Lemaire, New Jersey Devils, Brent Sutter, Calgary Flames, Bruce Boudreau, Washington Capitals, Joel Quenneville, Chicago Blackhawks, Lindy Ruff, Buffalo Sabres
How 2009 Finalists are faring -- Todd McLellan has the San Jose Sharks atop the entire League in the first quarter of the season. The Bruins have gotten off to a middling start, but also have had to withstand a rash of injuries. Claude Julien has been praised by his players for keeping things positive and focused. In St. Louis, it has been a tough go for Andy Murray and the Blues, who are languishing in the bottom third of the League and been brought to task by owner Dave Checketts.