Can the Blackhawks outduel the Bruins again in 2014? (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Over the past several days, we have been releasing our picks for the NHL's four new divisions. So far, we have tabbed the Chicago Blackhawks to win the Central for the second year in a row, and the San Jose Sharks to take down the Pacific Division title. We also had the Pittsburgh Penguins winning the Metropolitan Division, and finally the Boston Bruins taking home the hardware in the Atlantic Division.
Before we get into our predictions for who will hoist the Stanley Cup this season, here are our predictions for who will win the major NHL awards:
Art Ross (Most Points): Sidney Crosby, PIT
A safe pick, but a good one nonetheless as he won't have another freak injury slow him down like he did last season when a slapshot to the mouth broke his jaw and ended his regular season.
Hart Trophy (League MVP): John Tavares, NYI
In his first year as captain, we are predicting that Tavares will lead his team through arguably the toughest division in hockey to a playoff berth, and that is enough to make him the league MVP in our eyes.
Norris Trophy (Best Defenseman): Ryan Suter, MIN
Suter will continue to shine offensively and finally get some more respect for his solid defensive play too. PK Subban, Duncan Keith, and a healthy Erik Karlsson are both legitimate contenders for this award, but we'll give the edge to Suter.
Calder Trophy (Rookie of the Year): Seth Jones, NSH
The dynamite rookie is going to be made to look REALLY good in Trotz's system, and Shea Weber should help his stature too. If he can live up to the massive expectations that a lot of people had for him when he was the projected number one pick in the 2013 Draft (he went fourth), then he should win this award.
Selke Trophy (Best Defensive Forward): Patrice Bergeron, BOS
Advanced metrics suggeted that Bergeron, not Jonathan Toews, should have won this award last year, but the voters for the Selke historically go back to the well over and over again with the same players, so he should get a shot and win it this time.
Vezina Trophy (Best Goaltender): Antti Niemi, SJS
Only a supremely great season from Sergei Bobrovsky of the Columbus Blue Jackets kept Niemi from being a bigger contender for the award, but we have to give the guy credit, as we did pick the Sharks to win the Pacific.
Rocket Richard (Top Goal Scorer): Steven Stamkos, TBL
Despite our prediction that he will fall short to Crosby in the scoring race, we'll give the edge to Stamkos to beat out Sid and Alex Ovechkin for the league's goal scoring title.
Jack Adams (Coach of the Year): Barry Trotz, NSH
Since we predicted that the Predators would go from one of the worst teams in the
NHL to a playoff team this season, it only makes sense to give this award to Trotz,
as the league's GM's tend to appreciate underdog stories.
And now, without further adieu, here are our predictions for the Western and Eastern
Conference champions, and our Stanley Cup winner:
Eastern Conference: Boston Bruins
The Bruins may have lost Nathan Horton this offseason, but they have some solid new talent in Loui Eriksson and Jarome Iginla, and when you factor in Tuukka Rask in net, this team has all the components necessary for another deep playoff run.
Western Conference: Chicago Blackhawks
As much as we're sensitive to criticisms of homerism, the Hawks are the logical choice in the West. They have the depth on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ice, and Corey Crawford proved last season that he is capable of playing top quality hockey in key situations.
Stanley Cup Champs: Boston Bruins
As much as a Blackhawks' repeat would mean to the city, the Bruins' additions give them a narrow edge here. Much like the Penguins did when they lost the 2008 Finals to the Detroit Red Wings, the Bruins will be motivated by revenge in this Cup Final rematch, and will prevail.