It has been seven years since Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby won the Hart Memorial Trophy as the NHL's most valuable player for the only time.
Injuries have kept Crosby from piling up individual hardware since, and in recent years teammate Evgeni Malkin has won the trophy once and Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals has earned it three times. But the Pittsburgh captain is a heavy favorite to win the Hart Trophy again on Tuesday at the 2014 NHL Awards, which will take place at the Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC).
Crosby led the NHL with 104 points this season, and the margin of 17 more than anyone else is the largest since former Penguins captain Jaromir Jagr won the Art Ross Trophy by 20 in 1998-99. Crosby has led the League in points per game in each of the past four seasons, but this was the first time in that span when he played more than 75 percent of the Penguins' games.
In 2012-13, Crosby won the Ted Lindsay Award for being the League's most outstanding player as voted by the NHL Players' Association. It was Crosby's second time winning the award, but he finished second to Ovechkin for the Hart after missing the final 12 games of the season with a broken jaw.
The other finalists for the Hart and Ted Lindsay this season are Ryan Getzlaf of the Anaheim Ducks and Claude Giroux of the Philadelphia Flyers. Getzlaf finished second to Crosby with 87 points, and Giroux shrugged off a slow start to lead the Flyers into the Stanley Cup Playoffs, finishing third in League scoring with 86 points.
The NHL Awards will celebrate the 2013-14 season days before preparation for 2014-15 begins in earnest with the 2014 NHL Draft in Philadelphia on Friday and Saturday and the start of free agency July 1. Members of the Los Angeles Kings, who won the Stanley Cup for the second time in three seasons, will be present to show off their prize, and the NHL will fete an incredible season filled with landmark outdoor games, the 2014 Sochi Olympics, and one of the most competitive postseasons in League history.
Two Kings players and the architect of their roster will be among those looking to add more hardware to their collections. Center Anze Kopitar is a finalist for the Frank J. Selke Trophy, which is awarded to the best defensive forward. Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks and Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins are the other finalists; Toews won the award in 2013 and Bergeron won in 2012.
Los Angeles' Dustin Brown is one of three captains nominated for the Mark Messier Leadership Award, along with Toews and Getzlaf. Kings general manager Dean Lombardi joins Anaheim's Bob Murray and Marc Bergevin of the Montreal Canadiens as finalists for general manager of the year.
Toews and Bergeron each have a teammate among the three finalists for the James Norris Memorial Trophy for the League's top defenseman. Chicago's Duncan Keith and Boston's Zdeno Chara are joined by Nashville Predators star Shea Weber.
A Boston goaltender has won the Vezina Trophy as the League's top goalie twice in the past five seasons, and Tuukka Rask would like to make it three times in six. He's a finalist for the award along with Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov and Ben Bishop of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Rask led all goaltenders who played more than 40 games with a .930 save percentage and was second in goals-against average at 2.04.
Varlamov and Bishop each enjoyed a breakout season that helped earn their respective coaches a trip to Las Vegas. Colorado's Patrick Roy and Tampa Bay's Jon Cooper are finalists for the Jack Adams Award for coach of the year, along with Mike Babcock of the Detroit Red Wings.
Colorado and Tampa Bay are also well represented among the finalists for the Calder Memorial Trophy, which is given to the League's top rookie. Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon is the likely winner after authoring one of the best rookie seasons of the past decade with 24 goals and 63 points, and he could be Colorado's second winner in three seasons after Gabriel Landeskog won the Calder in 2012. Lightning forwards Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat are the other finalists.
Another Avalanche player, forward Ryan O'Reilly, is up for the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, which is given to the player who best exhibits sportsmanship and gentlemanly play. In 80 games this season, O'Reilly was assessed one minor penalty. He will vie for the award along with Patrick Marleau of the San Jose Sharks and Martin St. Louis of the New York Rangers, who has earned the honor three times in the past four seasons.
Bergeron, Keith and Brent Burns of the Sharks are the finalists for the NHL Foundation Award, which is given to the player who best helps to "enrich the lives of people in the community." Jagr, with the New Jersey Devils, Dominic Moore of the New York Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes forward Manny Malhotra are in the running for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, which is voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers' Association and given to the player who "best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication in hockey."