It seems easy for the National Hockey League Awards to become quickly overshadowed by the Vegas Expansion Draft. Combining the two events can be tricky, since most of the focus easily could’ve gone to the newest NHL team, the Vegas Golden Knights. The NHL did a good job at keeping the Awards special for the players, but still allowing the Golden Knights to have their moment. The players who were nominated for awards this year knew that they were a part of something special and that’s the coolest part for a lot of them. Johnny Gaudreau said on multiple occasions, that it’s “exciting” to be apart of something like the Expansion Draft.
“It’s kind of history. It’s exciting to be a part of it and to watch it live.”
The real reason that these players were in Vegas, though was to celebrate their individual and group accomplishments throughout the season. It’s a special experience for both the players who have attended before and the first-time NHL Award honorees.
The first award of the night was the Ted Lindsay Award for the most outstanding player voted for by the NHLPA. This award was given to Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid. At the young age of 20, McDavid was named the captain of the Oilers in just his second year in the league. This is a phenomenal feat and it just shows the impact that he has on his team. He helped the Oilers make it to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since the 2005-06 season. McDavid also took home the Hart Trophy for the league MVP. His value to his team is incredible having 30 multi-point games this season. He becomes just the third player ever to win the Hart before his 21st birthday. He is only behind Wayne Gretzky and Sidney Crosby.
Patrice Bergeron knows the NHL Awards well. He tied the record for the most Frank J. Selke Trophy for the forward who best excels defensively at four wins. Bergeron is not just a big part of the leadership on the Bruins, but he is also such an incredible all-around player. He led the league this season with 1,089 face-off wins.
The James Norris Memorial Trophy was awarded to Brent Burns of the San Jose Sharks who is one of the best defenseman in the league. This past season he set records in both points and goals for a defenseman with 29 goals and 47 assists. He also became the first defenseman to record back to back 75+ point seasons since 1997. His impact on the ice is not even close to when he’s off. He’s one of the nicest people in the league and he continues to be rewarded for it.
The Calder Memorial Trophy for the rookie of the year went to Toronto Maple Leafs Auston Matthews who scored 40 goals in 82 games during the regular season. Matthews won by a landslide and that’s no surprise. His rookie year was full of franchise-breaking records and spectacular performances. He finished tied for second in goals, only four goals behind Sidney Crosby.