Friday, January 19, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Top Lightning contenders for NHL awards

The NHL regular season ends today, and that means voting for the league's annual awards is underway. The Lightning should have several members of the organization under consideration.

Here is a quick look:

Calder Trophy (top rookie): Colorado's Nathan MacKinnon is the favorite, but those who have watched the Lightning know how good left wing Ondrej Palat has been. His 59 points lead the team and entering Saturday were second in the league to MacKinnon's 63. His plus-32 led all rookies, and whereas MacKinnon does not play on the penalty kill, Palat plays in all situations.

Others who should get consideration in voting by the Professional Hockey Writers Association include Tampa Bay center Tyler Johnson and Boston defenseman Torey Krug.

Jack Adams Award (top coach): The favorite is believed to be Patrick Roy for the turnaround of the Avalanche, but there is no denying the job done by Tampa Bay's Jon Cooper. Not many were picking the Lightning to make the playoffs. But despite the loss of Steven Stamkos for 45 games because of a broken right tibia, the Marty St. Louis drama and a lineup that in Friday's home regular-season finale had eight rookies, Tampa Bay is in the postseason for the first time since 2011. Stamkos has said he has never had such a good relationship with a coach, which says a lot about Cooper's ability to set a tone and connect with his players.

Others who should get consideration from NHL broadcasters are Philadelphia's Craig Berube, Anaheim's Bruce Boudreau and Columbus' Todd Richards.

Hart Trophy (most valuable player): Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby should be the runaway winner in the voting by the hockey writers association. But Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop could get a bunch of top-three votes, which would get him to Las Vegas for June's awards ceremony. The unquestioned team MVP, Bishop set team records with 37 wins, a 2.23 goals-against average and a .924 save percentage, and carried the team while Stamkos was sidelined.

Vezina Trophy( top goalie): Bishop's 37 wins are fourth in the league, and he is in the top 10 in goals-against average and save percentage. Boston's Tuukka Rask (36-15-6 with a 2.04 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage) is the likely favorite in the voting by general managers.

General manager of the year: It's hard to argue with the Lightning's Steve Yzerman, who hired Cooper, traded for Bishop and added Valtteri Filppula through free agency. He also found a way to turn the Marty St. Louis situation into a positive by trading St. Louis to the Rangers for Ryan Callahan and first- and a second-round draft picks. And he did it while negotiating only with New York. The award is voted on by the league's 30 general managers and a panel of NHL executives and print and broadcast journalists.

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