Alex Ovechkin has often grumped about settling for an individual prize at the NHL awards when he really wanted the big silver cup they hand out on the ice.
Well, move it on over Ovie, you’ll have plenty of disgruntled company Wednesday night in Las Vegas.
The list of various nominees is full of Capitals, Penguins, Red Wings, Canucks, Sharks and Sabres, teams that had started the year in search of Stanley, but lost their bearings. Duncan Keith is the only member of the Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks to be represented, up for the Norris Trophy, and you won’t find any members of the Eastern finalist Philadelphia Flyers and Montreal Canadiens in the mix for the major awards.
But it still will be a noteworthy evening at The Palms, as Ovechkin will find out if voting hockey writers give him a third straight Hart Trophy as most valuable player, last accomplished during Wayne Gretzky’s eight-year domination of the prize. Ditto his peers’ vote for the Ted Lindsay Award, just re-christened from the Lester Pearson.
A new Hart nominee, league points leader Henrik Sedin, will be Ovechkin’s challenger, along with old nemesis Sidney Crosby, whose 51 goals might lead to his second MVP nod.
Goalie Ryan Miller could not have done more for the Sabres in the regular season, but not only didn’t Buffalo go deep in the playoffs, it nose-dived in the first round, along with Ovechkin’s Capitals. But he will be hoping that league GMs picked him ahead of multi-winner Martin Brodeur and Phoenix Coyotes’ Ilya Bryzgalov.
In another interesting race, Matt Duchene of the Colorado Avalanche could become only the third Canadian-born forward to be named rookie of the year by the writers in 22 years. Joe Nieuwendyk (1988) and Dany Heatley (2002) were the others. Duchene is up against Buffalo defenceman Tyler Myers and Detroit goaltender Jimmy Howard.