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NHL Awards Preview

Yes, there is still one day left of action and a handful of games left to be played, during which the list of potential winners below can change. Still, where's the fun in just writing what's a foregone conclusion? So, with that said, starting from one of the least interesting awards handed out, and ending with the greatest in professional sports, I give you the 2009-2010 National Hockey League award winners:

Lady Byng Memorial Trophy: After he has won the award for four straight years as the most gentlemanly player in the game, it should probably be renamed after the Detroit Red Wings's Pavel Datsyuk. I'd say he'll win it again this year, but, to be honest, I don't know. To be more honest, I really don't care. All due respect to him, I doubt anyone but the winner cares who wins it.

Roger Crozier Saving Grace Award: Seeing as he currently leads the league with a .931 save percentage (the criterion for winning the award), it's hard to see a way in which the Boston Bruins's Tuukka Rask cannot win this award. Truth be told, entering this season, it would have been hard seeing him win it, playing backup to incumbent Vezina Trophy winner Tim Thomas. Buffalo Sabre Ryan Miller, who is in second place with a .929 percentage, can still theoretically catch him, playing on Sunday against the New Jersey Devils, but he would have to put on one hell of a performance to make up the difference (saving 27 shots out of 30 yields a .900 save percentage, in case you didn't know; 28 out of 30, a .933 percentage; simply adding those totals to Miller's total saves and shots against yields the same .929 percentage, however). The Bruins also play on Sunday, but, seeing as the Bruins have clinched sixth place, it's hard to picture the team playing their starter in a nothing game.

William M. Jennings Trophy: With just 190 goals against this season, clearly Martin Brodeur and fill in name of backup here will be put into history books as the latest duo of goalkeepers to win the award in question. My apologies to Yann Danis, but, c'mon, what did you do?

Frank J. Selke Trophy: Awarded to the best defensive forward in the game, it will possibly go to Alex Burrows of the Vancouver Canucks, the player with the best +/- rating (34) that best fits the mold of a defensive player among the league leaders in that category. Interestingly enough, however, teammates Daniel and Henrik Sedin each have higher ratings (35 and 36), but they are considered to be first-line players who only have high +/- ratings because of that fact. Burrows plays on the same line, but he will likely be considered because he adds a defensive presence to that line. For the record, Washington Capital Alex Ovechkin has the highest +/- rating among forwards currently with 46. I personally believe Zach Parise of the Devils should win, but he probably won't.

Jack Adams Award: It is clear that if Dave Tippett of the Phoenix Coyotes does not win this award as the best coach in the league, there is a conspiracy in place to prevent perhaps the most embarrassing situation in sports from getting any press, the Coyotes from getting any recognition for their on-ice success this year. It isn't that they don't have any owners… it's that the team is fourth in the ultra-competitive Western Conference with a franchise-best 50-25-7 record and still can't get any fans into the building, ranking 30th in the 30-team league (according to ESPN, anyway).

Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy: I am biased and believe Jaroslav Halak of the Montreal Canadiens should win the award, having to overcome the franchise's blatant nepotism towards blue-chip prospect Carey Price in order to earn the number-one spot in goal for the team. Following the Habs's final regular-season game, he had compiled a 26-13-5 record, with a 2.40 goals against average and a .924 save percentage, which is currently fifth-best in the league. Meanwhile, Price has a 13-20-5 record, with a 2.77 GAA and a .912 save percentage. Still, I believe that the Tampa Bay Lightning's nominee, defenseman Kurtis Foster, who has put up 42 points despite missing over 70 games in 2008-2009 after a broken-leg injury sidelined him late in the previous season, will win it. I'd also like to point out that I think Detroit Red Wing Jimmy Howard could have won the award if the Wings had nominated him, after displacing goalie Chris Osgood as the number one there, but they apparently chose to go with forward Tomas Holmstrom as the team's nominee instead.

James Norris Memorial Trophy: Despite leading all defensemen in scoring, I strongly believe that Mike Green of the Washington Capitals will get snubbed for the second-straight year. Instead, Duncan Keith of the Chicago Blackhawks will probably get the nod. I am inherently against giving away the trophy that should go to the best defenseman in the league based only on the number of points they are able to score. Considering Keith is considered to be stronger defensively and still managed 68 points (to Green's 75, each with one game left to play today), he should get it.

Calder Memorial Trophy: By all accounts, it's a three-man race to be named the league's top rookie, between Howard, Buffalo Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers, and the Colorado Avalanche's Matt Duchene. Myers will probably get the award because Howard is relatively old at 26 years of age (the fact that he's only getting his chance now plays into why he should have been nominated for the Masterton), and Duchene, while impressive, just hasn't been as impressive as Myers.

Vezina Trophy: How much difference does a year make? A huge difference, considering last year's nominees for the league's best goaltender have all fallen from grace, relatively speaking. The Minnesota Wild's Niklas Backstrom and the Columbus Blue Jackets's Steve Mason have each had sub-par seasons, while Thomas, the winner, has effectively had his number-one status with the Bruins usurped by Rask. That being said, it is pretty much a no-contest this year. Ryan Miller of the Sabres should win based purely on the fact that he has consistently found himself atop all relevant goaltending statistics since the start of the year. He is the reason why the Sabres are the Northeast Division champions.

Art Ross Trophy: If someone had told you in September that Vancouver Canuck Henrik Sedin would be leading the scoring race with one day left in the schedule, you probably would have concluded that it would have been a repeat of the pre-lockout season when Tampa Bay's Martin St. Louis won the trophy in question with a meager 94 points. But, alas, no. Henrik, thanks to a franchise-record-setting four-point night yesterday, now has 112 points on the season, three more than Ovechkin, who has one game left to play today. I see Ovechkin getting one or two points today against the defensively stifling Bruins, but three? I personally don't think so. Congratulations to Henrik. He's likely won it, barring an incredible performance today by Ovechkin that would make him worthy of winning the Art Ross and every other trophy there is to win.

Maurice 'Rocket' Richard Trophy: Steven Stamkos has effectively proven his naysayers (population: one; Barry Melrose) wrong this year. Even those that were in his corner (everyone minus Melrose) last year during the highly publicized "Steven is not ready for the NHL" episode could not have foreseen his 50-goal campaign this year. Still, with Ovechkin having one game left to play and tied at 50 on the year, look for Ovechkin to overtake the underdog. I want Stamkos to hold on for the tie, but it just doesn't look like it's going to happen.

Hart Memorial Trophy: Many people might think that Ovechkin should win it for the third-straight year, but due to his number of suspensions and how well his team played during his absences during his suspensions, it is pretty clear that he isn't as critical a factor to Washington's success as many might lead you to believe. He's important, no doubt, but more valuable to Washington than anyone else in the league is to their own team? Hardly. The award has become a popularity contest in recent years, at least in my opinion, and I feel that if Miller doesn't win it for his work in the Sabres's net, a great injustice will have been done.

The Stanley Cup: The Prince of Wales Trophy will go to the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl to the Chicago Blackhawks, and the championship to the Blackhawks, who will outlast Pittsburgh in an immensely entertaining final series. The Blackhawks will overcome their goaltending woes and overpower the Pens, who, despite their two superstar players, won't be able to match the Blackhawks's overall depth.

Apologies if I left any awards out. Doing so was just a mistake if there are indeed any missing. My prediction skills haven't exactly been the best lately, but I can say in total certainty that, with 120 points and a 54-15-12 season, the Washington Capitals will win the Presidents' Trophy, handed to the team with the best regular-season record. The closest competition has seven points less, so it is clear that this award is well-deserved. It remains to be seen whether or not the Caps can translate this regular-season success into some post-season success, however. One last guess: They won't.