The Boston Bruins
have stamped themselves as the NHL's best team in 2010-11. Now it's time to see who turned in the best individual performances.
The League will have its top stars under the same roof Wednesday for the 2011 NHL Awards Show (7 p.m. ET; Versus, CBC). The event, held at the Pearl Concert Theater inside the Palms Hotel in Las Vegas, will be hosted for the second straight year by actor/comedian Jay Mohr.
The big night will include a full lineup of celebrity guests, presenters and entertainment -- including live performances from multi-platinum country music star Dierks Bentley and hip hop/electro pop group Far East Movement.
And of course, awards will be handed out to the elite performers of the just-concluded season. Here's a look at the finalists for some of the top honors:
The Hart Trophy is the NHL's MVP award. The three finalists are Anaheim's Corey Perry
, Vancouver's Daniel Sedin
and Tampa Bay's Martin St. Louis
Perry was the NHL's top goal-scorer and the only player to register a 50-goal season, helping to drive the Ducks to the playoffs.
Sedin is assured of leaving Las Vegas with the Art Ross
Trophy after leading the League in scoring with 104 points -- succeeding his twin brother, Henrik, as the NHL's top scorer and helping to lead the Canucks to the franchise's first Presidents' Trophy. If Daniel wins, he'll succeed his twin as MVP; Henrik won the award in 2009-10.
St. Louis is trying to become a repeat winner – he took home the Hart in 2004 while leading the Tampa bay Lightning
to the Stanley Cup. In 2010-11, he led the resurgent Lightning to the Eastern Conference Finals and finished second to Daniel Sedin
with 99 points.
The Vezina goes to the League's top goaltender each season. The finalists are Boston's Tim Thomas
, Nashville's Pekka Rinne
and Vancouver's Roberto Luongo
The spotlight figures to be on Thomas, who could cap one of the most impressive seasons for a goaltender in recent history by winning his second Vezina in three years. Thomas is fresh off a Stanley Cup victory in which he was the Conn Smythe Trophy winner as playoff MVP. In the regular season, Thomas set a League single-season record with a .938 save percentage and was tops with a 2.00 goals-against average. Winning the Vezina would complete a season for the ages.
Rinne was second to Thomas with a .930 save percentage in the regular season. He was superb down the stretch as the Predators fought for (and earned) a playoff spot. The young goaltender had a breakout season, posting career highs in wins (38), goals-against average (2.12) and save percentage.
Then there's Luongo. He may have been on the losing end in the Stanley Cup Final, but that shouldn't overshadow his fantastic season. Luongo's 2.11 goals-against average was the best of his career, and he tied for League lead with 38 wins.
The Norris Trophy is given to the NHL's best defenseman. The finalists are Boston's Zdeno Chara
, Detroit's Nicklas Lidstrom
and Nashville's Shea Weber
Chara is a Norris finalist for the third time in the last four seasons – he won the award two years ago. The 6-foot-9 Boston captain led the NHL with a plus-33 rating, matching his career high set in 2003-04.
Lidstrom is the best defenseman of his generation – he's a finalist for the 11th time in the past 13 seasons and has won six times. At age 40, he ranked second among all defensemen in scoring with 62 points (16 goals, 46 assists) in 82 games, highlighted by a career-best 11-game point streak and his first NHL hat trick.
Weber is the lone first-time finalist in the group. He was second in average ice time per game (25:19), and set career highs in games played (82), assists (32) and shots (254) while helping the Predators to the playoffs.
Calder Memorial Trophy
The finalists for the award given to the NHL's top rookie are Carolina's Jeff Skinner
, San Jose's Logan Couture
and the New York Islanders
' Michael Grabner
Skinner, the seventh pick of the 2010 Entry Draft and the youngest full-time NHL player this past season (he turned 19 last month), led all rookies with 63 points and was the only rookie who played in the All-Star Game. Winning the Calder would cap a remarkable year.
Couture was a sensation in San Jose this season -- his 32 goals set a franchise rookie record, and he broke the NHL record for most game-winning goals scored on the road by a rookie.
Grabner, who won the fastest skater competition at the All-Star Game skills contest, cam out of nowhere to score a rookie-best 34 goals in 76 games – the most by a first-year player since Alex Ovechkin
and Sidney Crosby
in 2005-06. That's not bad for a player who was claimed on waivers from Florida at the start of the season.
Jack Adams Award
The Jack Adams
Award goes to the NHL's coach of the year. The three finalists are Pittsburgh's Dan Bylsma
, Nashville's Barry Trotz
and Vancouver's Alain Vigneault
Bylsma led Pittsburgh to a 106-point season, the second-highest total in franchise history – and he did it despite a deluge of injuries; among them, All-Stars Evgeni Malkin
and Sidney Crosby
, who were out for the second half of the season.
Trotz is nominated for the second year in a row. The Predators earned the fifth seed in the difficult Western Conference, and for the first time in franchise history won a playoff series.
Vigneault guided a deep team with high expectations to the franchise's first Presidents' Trophy.