By Jesse Larch – Site Editor
With the NHL regular season right around the corner, it is the appropriate time to make premature predictions of who will take home the league’s year-end awards once the season has concluded.
Frank J. Selke Trophy
There are the clear favorites for this ward like Patrice Bergeron and Jonathan Toews, but I am going to go in a bit of a different direction with this one. Sean Couturier is my pick. The young Philadelphia Flyers center has been one of the best defensive forwards since he entered the league, and the only reason he has not been a strong candidate for the award in the past is due to ice time. The Flyers have experimented with moving Claude Giroux to the wing, opening a slot in the middle for Couturier to get more ice time, and further prove that he is an elite defensive forward.
Jack Adams Trophy
John Tortorella absolutely deserved this award last year, but this year it will go to a coach north of the border. Guy Boucher led the Ottawa Senators to the Eastern Conference Finals a year ago, and he did it with a team that lacked talent after Erik Karlsson. Boucher showed that he can get this team to play great systematic hockey, and I expect him to take it a step further this season.
James Norris Trophy
Speaking of Erik Karlsson, he is my pick to win the James Norris Trophy. Karlsson is one of the best skaters in the league period. He uses that smoothness to seamlessly transition plays out of his own end, and break them up when they enter. Barring injury, Karlsson is the best defenseman in the world.
Art Ross Trophy
Take a back seat Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, because there’s a new kid in town. Connor McDavid has everything that you need to be successful in today’s speed-oriented NHL. He led the league in points last year, and I see no reason why he will not be able to do it again.
Maurice Richard Trophy
If McDavid is the new Crosby, Auston Matthews is his Ovechkin. The Toronto Maple Leafs star overwhelmed the league on his way to 40 goals as a rookie. With another year under his belt, he should explode on the scene and outpace everyone this season.
A bit of a sleeper pick here, I am going with Martin Jones of the San Jose Sharks. Carey Price and Braden Holtby are safe choices, but I do not like how either of their defenses will hold up over the year. The Sharks have the reigning Norris Trophy winner in Brent Burns, and one of the most underrated defensemen in hockey in the form of Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Their forwards are responsible in all three zones, and Jones has settled into a high-usage role, amassing over 60 games in both of his seasons in San Jose.
Let’s be honest, it is Connor McDavid’s world and we are all just living in it. It would take a herculean effort – or an injury – to dethrone the reigning league MVP this season.