The 2015 NHL Awards are tonight in Las Vegas, Nevada, and there are two members of the Predators organization nominated for big awards. Goaltender Pekka Rinne is up for the Vezina Trophy for best goaltender (his third nomination), and head coach Peter Laviolette is nominated for the Jack Adams Award, given to the Coach of the Year.
The Predators have never had much luck at the NHL Awards. They haven’t won a major trophy since 2009, when Steve Sullivan won the Bill Masterton Trophy for sportsmanship.
Will this year be any different?
Let’s break down the two awards that could come to Nashville:
Nominees: Pekka Rinne (NSH), Carey Price (MTL), Devan Dubnyk (MIN)
It will be tough for anyone to take down Carey Price. The Montreal netminder led the league in wins, GAA, and save percentage, the first goaltender to lead all three of those categories since Ed Belfour in 1990-91. Devan Dubnyk and Rinne are not far behind in the GAA category, finishing second and third, respectively. Rinne had a fast start to the season before an injury sidelined him for a few weeks. Despite missing some time, he still managed to win 41 games, good enough for second in the NHL in wins. Dubnyk finished the season on a tear, carrying the Minnesota Wild to a playoff berth. However, Price is also a top candidate for the Hart Trophy (MVP), and it is hard to argue against him winning the Vezina.
Prediction: Price (unanimous)
Jack Adams Award
Nominees: Peter Laviolette (NSH), Alain Vigneault (NYR), Bob Hartley (CGY)
This is one of the most tightly-contested awards of the night. All three of these coaches are very deserving. Vigneault survived a scary injury to star goaltender Henrik Lundqvist to win the President’s Trophy. Laviolette tapped into the Predators’ offensive potential to turn a somewhat lackluster bunch into a scoring machine. Hartley took a young, rebuilding group and made them a contender in Calgary. While Laviolette definitely made a huge impact on the Predators, Hartley is the favorite in this category. The Flames were supposed to be Western Conference bottom feeders this season. Under Hartley, they suddenly burst onto the scene with some fantastic young guns in Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan. It is hard to vote against Hartley in this category.
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Nominees: Mark Stone (OTT), Johnny Gaudreau (CGY), Aaron Ekblad (FLA)
If it weren’t for the Senators’ insane end of the season, Filip Forsberg would most likely be a nominee for the Calder. But, he was the odd man out, as there were a ton of phenomenal rookies this season. All three nominees are solid young players. But, Ekblad was simply the best rookie all season, and should win this award.
Nominees: Drew Doughty (LAK), Erik Karlsson (OTT), and P.K. Subban (MTL)
The award that Shea Weber has been snubbed from numerous times is up for grabs this year. There is no clear cut favorite amongst these nominees. All three are the centerpieces of their respective teams’ defensive corps. However, Doughty was the real workhorse this season, carrying a weak and injured Kings defense. Simply for that, he should win this one.
Nominees: Carey Price (MTL), Alex Ovechkin (WSH), and John Tavares (NYI)
The MVP trophy should be given to the play most valuable to their team, not necessarily just the best player. Tavares and Ovechkin are essential to their team, and are two of the elite forwards in the NHL. However, without Price, the Habs would have been completely sunk this year. He has to win this award, and would be the first goaltender to do it since Jose Theodore did it with the Canadiens back in 2002.