The NHL Awards air tonight at 7:00 Central on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app. Back in 2012, the Blues took home coach of the year in Ken Hitchcock, GM of the year in Doug Armstrong, and the Jennings Trophy between Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott. Tonight’s broadcast will have a lot of St. Louis flair, with Jon Hamm presenting the Blues contingent and recognizing the team as Stanley Cup Champions.
This year, there’s a lot of similarities to that season’s awards. Doug Armstrong is nominated for General Manager of the Year along with two Dons: Don Waddell of the Carolina Hurricanes and Don Sweeney of the Boston Bruins. Sweeney assembled an obviously excellent team, but had an established core to build around. Waddell finally got the Hurricanes back into the playoffs and didn’t facilitate a sale to a middle-sized Canadian market, so win-win.
Coach Craig Berube is nominated for the Jack Adams, as is Jon Cooper of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Barry Trotz of the New York Islanders. Trotz arrived on Long Island after coaching the Washington Capitals to a Stanley Cup in 2017, and turned the Islanders around. They finished second in the Metropolitan Division behind the Caps with 103 points. Cooper, obviously, is known for coaching the Tampa Bay Lightning to one of the best seasons an NHL team has ever seen, with a 62-16-4 record.
It’s important to remember that the awards are based on the regular season only, so Armstrong and Berube won’t get bonus points for the Stanley Cup, nor will Waddell and Sweeney get bonus consideration for the playoffs. Likewise, Cooper won’t be penalized for the Lightning getting swept in the first round.
On the player’s side of things, Jordan Binnington’s impressive season (24-5-1, 1.89 GAA, .927 SV%) earned him a nomination for the Calder Trophy. The other two nominees , Buffalo’s Rasmus Dahlin and Vancouver’s Elias Pettersson. Dahlin looks like another solid player for the Sabres to build their future around - 44 points as a defenseman isn’t exactly a slouch - and Pettersson banked 28 goals and 38 assists in a stellar freshman campaign. On the other hand, one of these three players helped yank his team into a mid-season turnaround. Winning the Calder isn’t all about impressive stats.
Finally, Ryan O’Reilly is up for two awards. He’s nominated for the Selke Award, which goes to the best defensive forward. His fellow nominees are Patrice Bergeron from the Boston Bruins and Mark Stone of the Vegas Golden Knights. O’Reilly is also nominated for the Lady Byng award with Aleksander Barkov of the Florida Panthers and Sean Monahan of the Calgary Flames.
If you’re just watching the awards tonight to see the Blues win, be reminded that the NHL Awards are usually the most awkward award show in the free world, and former Mighty Duck and current SNL cast member Kenan Thompson is hosting. Will he be trotting out his Charles Barkley impression tonight? We’ll have to wait and see.