--Markus Naslund of the Vancouver Canucks and Peter Forsberg of the Colorado Avalanche, who grew up playing against each other in Ornskoldsvik, Sweden, were named finalists for the NHL's Hart Trophy on Wednesday.
Naslund and Forsberg, born 10 days apart in July of 1973, will be up against New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur for the award, which goes to the player deemed most valuable to his team.
It was the first Hart Trophy nomination for all three players and Forsberg or Naslund could become the first Swede to ever capture the honour.
Nominees were also released for the Norris, Calder, Vezina, Lady Byng, Jack Adams and Selke trophies. Winners are to be announced June 12 at the league's televised awards ceremony in Toronto.
|Belfour gets his fourth Vezina nomination this season.|
Graig Abel Photography
For the Vezina Trophy as top goaltender, Brodeur is up against Toronto's Ed Belfour, the winner in 1991 and 1993, and Turco, who replaced Belfour in Dallas this season.
Belfour, with his first Vezina nomination since 1995, set a Maple Leafs' record with 37 wins. He had a 2.26 goals-against average.
Turco, in his first full season as an NHL starter, led all goalies with a 1.72 average and a .932 save percentage on a defensively solid club.
Brodeur will try to make it four times in seven years that a goaltender wins both the Hart and the Vezina Trophy as top goaltender. Dominik Hasek did it with Buffalo in 1997 and 1998 and Theodore won both last year. Before that, it has not been done since Montreal's Jacques Plante won both in 1962.
There were few surprises among the nominees, except perhaps the selection of Derian Hatcher of Dallas and the omission of Washington's Sergei Gonchar for the Norris Trophy as top defenceman.
Hatcher was among four players from the Western Conference champion Stars nominated for awards, the most among any team. Others were forwards Mike Modano and Jere Lehtinen and goaltender Marty Turco.
Coach Jacques Martin was the lone member of the first-place Ottawa Senators to be nominated despite stellar seasons from forwards Daniel Alfredsson and Marian Hossa and goaltender Patrick Lalime.
On Monday, Naslund and Forsberg were named finalists for the Pearson Award - a second MVP trophy voted on by their fellow players. But the third candidate for the Pearson was Boston Bruins centre Joe Thornton instead of Brodeur.
Last year, Montreal goaltender Jose Theodore won the Hart, which is voted on by members of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association, while scoring leader Jarome Iginla of the Calgary Flames took the Pearson.
Forsberg and Naslund - with 106 points and 104 points respectively - were the league's top two scorers this season while Brodeur led the NHL with 41 victories and nine shutouts. The Devils' goalie also had a stellar 2.02 goals-against average.
Thornton was the only other player to break the 100-point barrier at 101. Also overlooked was Forsberg's teammate Milan Hejduk, the league's only 50-goal scorer this season.
Forsberg, who will get the Art Ross Trophy as league points leader, and Hejduk, who secured the Rocket Richard Trophy as goal-scoring leader, finished tied for the lead in plus-minus differential at plus-52.
Niklas Lidstrom of the Detroit Red Wings will be shooting for a third consecutive Norris Trophy as top defenceman.
Lidstrom and the 1999 winner, Al MacInnis of the St. Louis Blues, were each nominated for the sixth time. The third nominee was Hatcher.
Lidstrom led the NHL in ice time, averaging 29 minutes 20 seconds per game, was plus-40 and had 62 points this season.
MacInnis led NHL defencemen with 68 points while Hatcher, nominated for the first time, had 30 points and was plus-37.
Gonchar had 67 points and was fourth in the league in ice time at 26:34.
|Mogilny was recognized for his skills and sportsmanship.|
Graig Abel Photography
Lidstrom was also nominated - for a fifth year in a row - for the Lady Byng Trophy as the league's most gentlemanly player along with first-time finalists Modano and Alexander Mogilny of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Lidstrom has yet to win the Lady Byng.
The front-runner could be Mogilny, who had 79 points and only 12 penalty minutes this season. Lidstrom had 38 minutes and Modano, who was sixth in league scoring with 85 points, had 30.
MacInnis' impressive defence partner Barret Jackman was nominated for the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year along with left-wingers Rick Nash of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Henrik Zetterberg of Detroit.
Jackman had only three goals and 16 assists, but was a solid plus-23 in a strictly defensive role. Nash, drafted first overall last spring, had 17 goals and 22 assists for Columbus, while Zetterberg, selected 210th overall in 1999, had 22 goals and 22 assists for Detroit.
Lehtinen is in the running for his third Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward against John Madden of New Jersey and Wes Walz of the Minnesota Wild.
Lehtinen, who won in 1998 and 1999 and who was nominated two other times, was a 31-goal scorer and led the Stars at plus-39. Madden, who won the Selke in 2001, had a career-high 41 points and was plus-13.
Walz, in his first nomination, had 32 points and was plus-11.
Walz's coach Jacques Lemaire, whose tight defensive system lifted Minnesota into the playoffs in only its third season and whose team ousted Colorado in the first round, was nominated for the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year.
Other Adams nominees are Martin and John Tortorella, who led the Tampa Bay Lightning to a surprise playoff berth.
Lemaire won the Adams in 1994 with New Jersey while Martin, a finalist for the fourth time in seven years, took it in 1999.
Hockey writers from each NHL city vote on the Hart, Norris, Selke, Calder and Lady Byng trophies, while the NHL Broadcasters' Association selects the Adams winner and NHL general managers vote on the Vezina Trophy.