NHL analyst and former All-Star Jeremy Roenick will be penning a weekly blog for NHL.com this season. Look for new entries from, "World According to JR," every Wednesday. Roenick usually offers his sharp, can't-miss opinions on What's Clicking and What's Missing in the National Hockey League, but with this being midseason week in the NHL, J.R. decided to hand out some hardware.
Everybody has their own list, so I thought I'd give you mine. Here are my midseason picks for the six big trophies in the NHL:
It's not a big secret that it's Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
of the Edmonton Oilers
It still amazes me that Edmonton thought about sending him back to juniors. He's dazzled with his ability to handle the National Hockey League, and he seems way older and more mature than his age would suggest. Boy, oh boy, does he have a bright future, and he definitely gets the early nod for rookie of the year because of the amazing pace with which he has started his career.
This is a real close one for me. The two guys I believe are right there are on teams that aren't at the top of the League, but they're good teams and they're going to be in the playoffs.
The first guy is Erik Karlsson
of the Ottawa Senators
Defense - FLA
GOALS: 3 | ASST: 30 | PTS: 33
SOG: 67 | +/-: 2
Karlsson has been fantastic all season. He has been consistently strong offensively and defensively. He's been excellent, especially on the power play. On a team that has struggled through parts of the year, Karlsson has not really had many low points. He's been a model of consistency, which is both impressive and totally necessary in Ottawa.
Nipping at Karlsson's heals, and people may think I'm crazy for this, is Brian Campbell
of the Florida Panthers
There's not much hype or attention down in Florida, but the Panthers quietly had a fantastic first half of the season and Dale Tallon
bringing Campbell there is a big reason why. He has enhanced the Panthers' overall production. His coast-to-coast rushes have been exciting to watch. He's a defenseman that can control the game. And he seems to be having a lot of fun.
Right now for the Norris it's a push between Karlsson and Campbell. It's still up in the air.
This has to go to Henrik Lundqvist
of the New York Rangers
, but this is a close one. In fact, because of Lundqvist, Tim Thomas
and Brian Elliott
, I think this is going to be as close a Vezina race as we've seen in the last decade.
The goalies this year have just been phenomenal, but Lundqvist has allowed the Rangers to not only become the No. 1 team in the League, but he has allowed them to win games this year regardless of whether the forwards score goals. That is a pretty impressive feat.
Thomas is again defying the laws of age and continuing the highest level of play, but he did have a tough start at the beginning of the year so I'm going to give Lundqvist the nod because of his consistency night in and night out.
Jack Adams Award
This is going to a guy that didn't even start the year as a coach. It's Ken Hitchcock
of the St. Louis Blues
Hitch has done something that not many people have the ability to do, which is go into a team that is struggling, a team that couldn't win any games, that was battling with its confidence, and totally turn it around. In fact, I think the term total remodel is an understatement for what Hitchcock has accomplished in St. Louis. Their structure, their system, and their overall attitude and desire to win -- it's all different. This team believes it can win every single night and works hard every single night.
I feel bad for any team that has to play the Blues in the first round of the playoffs because they seem to be on a roll and playing like warriors.
Right Wing - SJS
GOALS: 16 | ASST: 14 | PTS: 30
SOG: 121 | +/-: 13
This is always a tough one, but I'm putting someone down here that will surprise a lot of people. It's Joe Pavelski
from the San Jose Sharks
trusts this guy in every aspect of the game. He puts him on the power play. He puts him on the penalty kill. He starts him in overtime. He uses him in the shootout. Pavelski is so smart in his defensive play, but he doesn't get any credit out there in San Jose because of Patrick Marleau
, Joe Thornton
, Dan Boyle
and Brent Burns
. Pavelski is, without question, a guy that should be getting attention for being one of the best defensive forwards in the League that can also play offensively. It's a lot like Ryan Kesler
was last year. He's just a great player.
A close second would be Patrice Bergeron
of the Boston Bruins
. He's such a good penalty killer and he's so smart defensively with his positioning that he makes the Selke race close, but I still like Pavelski by a hair.
Right Wing - PHI
GOALS: 18 | ASST: 30 | PTS: 48
SOG: 103 | +/-: 5
The big one is an easy one. Hands down the most exciting player for me to watch this year all the way around the boards has been Claude Giroux
of the Philadelphia Flyers
His toughness, grit, goal-scoring, playmaking, work ethic and importance to the team have all been such important elements for the Flyers this season. He's really benefited from Jaromir Jagr
being there, learning from a veteran, but Giroux's confidence seems to be off-the-charts high right now. Some of the moves he makes, the timing of them, the timing of his goals, show he's a big time player that rises to the occasion. And I love his mentality. He plays the game with a lot of grit, an edge, and he's in the perfect place in Philly because the people there can appreciate his game.
He has been by far the most valuable to his team.