Saluting the Best in Vegas

The National Hockey League with bring out their best for the NHL Awards show from the Pearl Concert Theater inside the Palms Hotel in Las Vegas on Thursday, at 7:00 p.m. EDT. The show can be seen nationally on Versus.

Steve Sullivan of the Nashville Predators is one of three players nominated for the Bill Masterton Trophy that goes to the player “who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to ice hockey.” Detroit’s Chris Chelios and Florida’s Richard Zednik were also nominated.

Sullivan is the local favorite to receive the award after returning to play with the Predators in January after being out for 142 games over a two-year period due to a spinal injury that required two surgeries.

Sully played 43 games with the Predators and returned to pre-injury form scoring 11 goals and adding 21 assists. His return sparked the Predators to much improved play that pushed the team close to a playoff seeding.

The highlight of the telecast will be the announcement of the Hart Trophy that goes to the NHL’s Most Valuable Player. Washington Capitals left winger Alexander Ovechkin, the top goal scorer in the NHL, Conn Smythe Trophy winner Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins, and Detroit Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk are the finalists.

Based on regular season play, it looks like Ovechkin will take home the goods, as he was the most dynamic player in the league again this year.

The Calder Trophy for rookie of the year held local interest as the Pred’s Pekka Rinne played well enough to challenge for a final three nomination but did not get it.

The choice will be between Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Steve Mason, Anaheim Ducks forward Bobby Ryan and Chicago Blackhawks forward Kris Versteeg. Mason should win as he single handily led Columbus into the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.

My choice for the Vezina Trophy (Best Goalie) is Boston’s Tim Thomas, who led The Bruins to the best record in the Eastern Conference.

The League’s best Defenseman will receive the Norris Trophy. This will be the year that Zdeno Chara gets the nod over seven-time winner Nicklas Lidstrom of Detroit.

My pick for the Jack Adams Coach of the Year Award is Andy Murray of St Louis who led the Blues to the playoffs despite an injury depleted roster.

I project that Pavel Datsyuk, will win his fourth straight Lady Byng award which is given to the player that exhibits the best sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.

Finally, I feel that Datsyuk will also bring home the Selke Award that goes to the league’s best defensive forward.

I will be in attendance at the Awards show and will be able to see first hand how my picks pan out. I will provide a full wrap up of the event when I return.

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