Slap Shots|Damian Cristodero

Handing out the NHL's awards

Hart Trophy (MVP): Alex Ovechkin, Capitals

There was lots of debate about whether Ovechkin deserved to be league MVP if the Caps hadn't made the playoffs. The debate was wrongheaded. The award is not for the best player, but the player most valuable to his team. Ovechkin meets the criteria and then some.

His league-high 65 goals are a record for a left wing, and his 112 points mean Ovechkin was in on 47.7 percent of his team's 235 goals. Add that Washington's goaltending had a porous .899 save percentage entering Saturday and you get the idea how much Ovechkin meant. He is the MVP even if the Capitals hadn't made the playoffs.

Honorable mention: Martin Brodeur, Devils; Jarome Iginla, Flames; Evgeni Malkin, Penguins; Evgeni Nabokov, Sharks

Vezina Trophy (goalie): Evgeni Nabokov, Sharks

The conventional wisdom goes to the Devils' Martin Brodeur, but Nabokov entered Saturday with a league-best 46 victories, was third with a 2.15 goals-against average and tied for third with six shutouts. He bested Brodeur in each of those categories.

Brodeur led with a .920 save percentage compared with Nabokov's .909. But New Jersey plays a much more defensive style, and both Nabokov and Brodeur played in a workhorse 76 games.

Honorable mention: Brodeur; J.S. Giguere, Ducks; Pascal Leclaire, Blue Jackets; Henrik Lundqvist, Rangers

Norris Trophy (defenseman): Dion Phaneuf, Flames

It is time to change the name of the trophy to the Lidstrom in honor of the Red Wings' Nicklas Lidstrom, who has won it the past two seasons and five of the past six. But it also is time for a changing the guard. Phaneuf is the best combination of what you want in a blue-liner. He has offensive skills (tied for fourth among defensemen entering Saturday with 60 points) and the nastiness (182 penalty minutes) to make opponents think twice about going into the corners. He was plus-9 on a team that was outscored 222-226 and averaged 26:26 of ice time.

Honorable mention: Zdeno Chara, Bruins; Sergei Gonchar, Penguins; Lidstrom; Scott Niedermayer, Ducks

Calder Trophy (rookie): Tobias Enstrom, Thrashers

There were so many good rookies this season, it was difficult to choose. But anyone who can play defense, the game's toughest position, at such a high level at such a young age, 23, gets our vote. Enstrom led the Thrashers entering Saturday with 24:26 of average ice time. He was eighth among all rookies with 38 points and led with 22 power-play assists. Montreal's Carey Price will get much-deserved consideration. But the goaltender entered Saturday with 40 games. Enstrom had played 81.

Honorable mention: Nicklas Backstrom, Capitals; Patrick Kane, Blackhawks; Peter Mueller, Coyotes; Price

Selke Trophy (defensive forward): Pavel Datsyuk, Red Wings

Datsyuk is an offensive force with a team-high 97 points, but he also is a league-best plus-41 and entered Saturday with a league-high 142 takeaways.

Honorable mention: P.J. Axelsson, Bruins; Shane Doan, Coyotes; John Madden, Devils; Eric Perrin, Thrashers

Adams Award (coach): Bruce Boudreau, Capitals

Washington was dead in the water when Boudreau took over. But the Capitals are 36-17-7 under their new coach; the 79 points were second in the East in that time only to the Penguins' 83. When Washington made the playoffs by capturing the Southeast Division title on Saturday, it became the first NHL team to do so after standing 14th or 15th in the conference at the midpoint of a season.

Honorable mention: Mike Babcock, Red Wings; Guy Carobonneau, Canadiens; Claude Julien, Bruins; Barry Trotz, Predators

Handing out the NHL's awards 04/05/08 [Last modified: Monday, April 7, 2008 8:02am]

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