Connor McDavid is going to need an extra hand, or perhaps a team-mate willing to do some heavy lifting, when it comes time for the National Hockey League awards ceremony to be held in Nashville in late June.
Nothing is guaranteed, of course, but McDavid already has three trophies locked up, with an opportunity for at least one more (the Conn Smythe award for most valuable player in the Stanley Cup playoffs).
Trophies in McDavid’s clutches already include the Rocket Richard trophy for most goals during the regular season (64), the Art Ross trophy for the league scoring leader (153 points), which he pretty well wrapped up around Valentine’s Day, and almost certainly the Hart Trophy as the league’s most valuable player. Not a single pundit has dared suggest any other player has even a remote chance of wresting the Hart away from the 26-year-old eight-year veteran. McDavid’s point total was the highest since Mario Lemieux piled up 161 points in 1995-96. This is McDavid’s fifth scoring title, trailing only Wayne Gretzky (10), Gordie Howe (6) and Lemieux (6). Unless another Connor (Bedard) puts a stop to it, McDavid is likely to close the gap, or even surpass, the 10 scoring titles won by Gretzky by the time he retires.
So where will the other major trophies go?
The James Norris Memorial Trophy goes to the league’s best defenceman and because it’s obvious San Jose’s Erik Karlsson is the most talented offensive player who plays defence, voters are likely to be strongly swayed by his 100-plus point season and award him the trophy. Former winners Cale Makar of Colorado and Adam Fox of the Rangers will get some voter attention, as will young Rasmus Dahlin of Buffalo, but Karlsson’s status as only the seventh NHL defenceman ever to surpass 100 points will likely earn him the trophy.
The Calder Trophy for top rookie appears to be a two-player race, between Seattle’s Matty Beniers and Dallas’s Wyatt Johnston. Both had outstanding freshman seasons, scoring 24 goals each, but Beniers outpointed him 57-41. Goalie Stu Skinner of the Oilers and Arizona’s Mattias Macelli will also attract some votes.
Boston’s extraordinary regular season (a record 135 points) will almost certainly give them the Jack Adams trophy as top coach (Jim Montgomery) and the Vezina Trophy for best goaltender (Linus Ullmark).
The biggest prize of all, though (besides the Stanley Cup) will be the team winning the lottery to pick first in the amateur draft. It’s the Connor Bedard sweepstakes and it will dramatically alter the course of the lucky team. No silverware involved …. yet. That will come a few years down the road.
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