The NHL awards have concluded, allowing the league the celebrate its past season and give the players a few nights out in Vegas. Arguably one of the highlights of the evening was Will Arnett's impression of Brendan Shanahan. This was not an illusion, but it would have been nice if Europe's "The Final Countdown" accompanied Arnett's impersonation as it did during his magic routines on Arrested Development. Regardless, there were not too many surprises in the NHL awards with the Penguins' Evgeni Malkin cleaning up, taking home the Hart Trophy, Lindsay Trophy (the player's MVP) as well as winning the Art Ross race with having led the NHL in points.
Henrik Lundqvist took home the Vezina Trophy, as most knew he would while Erik Karlsson bagged the Norris Trophy in a surprisingly close vote between he and Nashville's Shea Weber. Karlsson winning the trophy will open up the seemingly yearly debate on whether the Norris is awarded to a high-scoring defenseman or more a complete, all-around defender such as Zdeno Chara. Sadly, a talented player like Dan Girardi will probably never win the Norris because he lacks the gaudy offensive numbers. Brian Campbell, who will be mentioned later, grabbed the Lady Byng, making him the first defender since 1954 to snag the award while Boston's Patrice Bergeron further cemented his reputation as one of the league's top two-way centers as he snagged the Selke Trophy, awarded to league's best defensive forward. Colorado's Gabriel Landeskog edged out New Jersey's Adam Henrique and the Oilers' Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for the Calder as the league's best rookie while Ken Hitchcock grabbed the Jack Adams for his guidance of the Blues.
As for the fantasy awards, some of them are going to mirror the NHL awards quite well.
All Fantasy Team (using standard roster formats 2 G, 4 D, 6 F)
Fantasy MVP: Without regards to what various leagues place a premium on (i.e.: goaltending is more valuable than goal scoring), we have to consider Evgeni Malkin the league's fantasy MVP. His 109 points were 12 more than the second-place finisher (Steven Stamkos). Add in 70 penalty minutes to Malkin's 50 goals and 59 helpers and you get a nice return on your first-round investment. Players at a point-per-game were at a premium this season, with just six players registering a point-per-game or better.
Best Goalie: Jonathan Quick's 10 shutouts led the league, but he finished eight wins off the pace behind Pekka Rinne of Nashville. Still Quick's peripheral stats were stronger. While Rinne's numbers were superlative (43 wins, five shutouts), the Penguins' Marc-Andre Fleury finished with 42 wins while starting eight fewer games than Rinne, Conversely, Henrik Lundqvist had a sub 2.00 goals-against average, eight shutouts and 39 wins while staring 62 games. Lundqvist carried most fantasy rosters this year and had stretches of outstanding play, as he was less prone to the rough nights that plagued Rinne and Fleury on occasion. Winner: Henrik Lundqvist, NYR.
Best Defensemen: Consider Erik Karlsson had more assists than the No. 2 scoring defenseman had points, it's a slam dunk for the budding Ottawa star. Considering most owners were scared away by his minis-30 last season, he could also qualify as the best value in the draft. He played at nearly a point-per-game this season, a feat accomplished only three times since the lockout. 79 points from the blue line is hard to beat.
Best All-Around Skater: Philadelphia's Scott Hartnell was a monster in leagues that rewarded penalty minutes and plus-minus. As one of those players that you love if he's on your team and despise is he's on another, Hartnell's numbers can't be discounted this season. 37 goals, a plus-19 and 136 penalty minutes provided owners with a bit of everything. Hartnell was one of only three players in the league to notch over 30 goals and 100 penalty minutes, with Anaheim's Corey Perry and New Jersey's David Clarkson being the others.
Breakout award: Pretty much a tie between Jordan Eberle of the Oilers and Boston's Tyler Seguin. Seguin's plus-34 was one of the tops in the NHL and his 29 goals were nice boost as well. Eberle took a huge step forward in his development with 34 goals and 76 points in 78 games and it will only increase with Taylor Hall, Nugent-Hopkins and possibly Nail Yakupov joining the show in northern Alberta.
Biggest Value by Position:
G: Phoenix's Mike Smith: Jettisoned from both Tampa Bay and Dallas, Smith had a monster season with Phoenix highlighted by an unbeaten month of February. Smith notched eight shutouts with 38 wins with a ridiculous .930 save percentage. Considering how late he was taken in most drafts, Smith's production was a tremendous return.
D: Brian Campbell had fallen off the radar while in Chicago, and the Blackhawks were all too eager to get his contract off the books. Campbell made his way to Florida and proceeded to finish tied for second in the league in scoring amongst defensemen with 53 points. He was given room to roam thanks to coach Kevin Dineen and he sparked the team's attack. Washington's Dennis Wideman and Kevin Bieksa of Vancouver can also be counted as players taken late in drafts that had strong seasons, finishing with 46 and 44 points respectively.
F: Few would have guessed Patrik Elias of New Jersey would have finished 10th in the league in scoring (78 points in 81 games), but Buffalo's Jason Pominville was coming off two pedestrian seasons of 62 and 52 points before he notched 73 this year while cracking 30 goals for the first time since 2006-07. Meanwhile, Phoenix's Ray Whitney put up 77 points in 82 games, even more impressive considering he turned 40 in May and also that he had seasons of 58 and 57 points before exploding this year.
Biggest Busts: This passage could be entitled the Washington Capitals paragraph, as Mike Green once again disappointed owners, but not nearly as much as he did in the 2010-2011 season. Green finished the season with seven points and just one since October. Given, he missed many games with a groin injury, but seven points in 32 games is reprehensible. Alex Semin continued his regression and enigmatic performance with 21 goals in 77 games. Owners didn't expect much from Semin, but still, he's too talented to produce this poorly.
-Dan Pennucci @dpennucci