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Melrose: Predicting NHL award winners

by Barry Melrose

After another amazing season, a thrilling Stanley Cup Final and the anointing of a dynasty in the Chicago Blackhawks, it's time to honor all of the incredible performances from 2014-15. Wednesday night, the who's who of the NHL will gather in Las Vegas for the 2015 NHL Awards.

Here are my picks for who will take home the hardware on Wednesday.

Hart Trophy - Alex Ovechkin, Carey Price, John Tavares

I'm a big believer in goaltenders. I know a lot of people don't like the idea of giving the goalie the MVP because they have their own trophy, but don't defensemen have their own, too? I don't know if I buy that argument. In my opinion, if Carey Price hadn't played for the Montreal Canadiens this season, who knows what would have happened. His numbers were just fantastic, and we saw in the playoffs that the Canadiens just weren't that great of a team. They went as he went. Alex Ovechkin and John Tavares had great seasons, but if you take them off of those teams you still have two pretty good teams. Price was all-world this season, and if he wasn't on the Canadiens, they might have spent the spring at home.

Pick: Price

Norris Trophy - Drew Doughty, Erik Karlsson, P.K. Subban

The Norris Trophy is an odd category this year because there are just so many great defensemen out there now. We've spent the past month calling Duncan Keith the best defenseman in the world and we've talked about Victor Hedman being one of the top five blueliners out there and neither are up for this award. When you take into account guys like Shea Weber or you look at the season Mark Giordano had, it looks like it's just a golden era for defensemen right now. Only three guys have a shot at the Norris, though, and if I have to pick one, I'll take Drew Doughty. I love the way he plays and he may not be as good offensively as Erik Karlsson and P.K. Subban, but I think he's definitely better defensively, and is the best all-around player of the three. I just think he's better than the other guys without the puck and he's almost as good as them with it.

Pick: Doughty

Vezina Trophy - Devan Dubnyk, Carey Price, Pekka Rinne

Pekka Rinne had a great season and without Devan Dubnyk the Minnesota Wild might never have turned their season around. In fact, there was definitely a stretch this season when Dubnyk was better than Price because he was better than everybody. This award is about the whole body of work, though, and no one was better in net than Price this season. After all, we're talking about him potentially winning the Hart. If you can make an argument that Price is the MVP and not the best goalie in the League, I'd like to hear it.

Pick: Price

Calder Trophy - Aaron Ekblad, Johnny Gaudreau, Mark Stone

Aaron Ekblad had an unbelievable year. He ended up being the best defenseman on the Florida Panthers and it's challenging enough to be a defenseman in the NHL at his age, let alone getting top pairing assignments. If you watched him play every night, you could see he was so young and yet he was still playing against the other team's best players. He was solid right from the get go and just kept getting better as the season went on. Johnny Gaudreau and Mark Stone each had great seasons, but Aaron Ekblad showed us the start of something special.

Pick: Ekblad

Selke Trophy - Patrice Bergeron, Anze Kopitar, Jonathan Toews

I've got to go with Jonathan Toews here. That isn't because he just captained another Stanley Cup champion; he's the best player on the best team in the NHL. He plays against other team's top lines and the other team has to simultaneously match their top defensive players to go against him. That's a heck of a matchup problem. He's an incredible defensive player, but opponents still need to worry about his offense. You could easily make an argument that right now Toews is the best all-around player in the world.

Pick: Toews

Jack Adams Award - Bob Hartley, Peter Laviolette, Alain Vigneault

Peter Laviolette did a great job in his first season with the Nashville Predators and Alain Vigneault guided the New York Rangers to the President's Trophy. Those are great jobs and in any season that might be enough to be the coach of the year. When you look at what Bob Hartley did with the Calgary Flames, though, I just can't see him not getting coach of the year. I really can't. We spent most of this season believing Calgary was a nice story, but we expected them to fall off the map eventually and they never did. Even when Giordano, the Flames' best player, went down with an injury, the team still manage to make the postseason and then managed to win a round. When you look at how hard this team played, how deep the Western Conference is, and you compare Calgary's talent level with its competition, I just can't believe anyone else walks away with this award.

Pick: Hartley

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