By Dan Rubin
The NHL’s official final act of the 2010-2011 season will be to hand out its awards amidst the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas. It’s the last day where the league celebrates the season it had, and it closes the book on a magical ride resulting in one team’s hoisting of the Stanley Cup. With news the NHL salary cap and salary floor are both increasing due to increased visibility, ratings, and revenue, there has never been a better time to be a player in the NHL. When free agency begins on July 1, there will be a crop of young stars waiting to make splashes in the new league, but first, we take a look and predict the winners of the major awards to be handed out on June 22, from The Strip.
Hart Memorial Trophy (League MVP):
Nominees: Corey Perry (Anaheim); Daniel Sedin (Vancouver); Martin St. Louis (Tampa Bay)
Who Should Win: Perry. Perry posted 50 goals and 48 assists for a Ducks team that finished second in the Pacific Division. He was the only 50-goal scorer in the league this year, a plateau that is impressive unto itself. He also scored a full 18 points more than the team’s second-leading scorer (Teemu Selanne), and he had 16 goals more than the next highest goal scorer (Bobby Ryan). Compare that to Sedin, who had the same amount of goals as Ryan Kesler for the Canucks and Martin St. Louis, who led his team in points by only eight and had a season’s plus/minus of zero. If both Sedin and St. Louis are taken out of the equation, their teams probably have similar seasons to the ones they had. Taking Perry out of the equation puts Anaheim down the barrel of the division and possibly out of the playoffs.
Who Will Win: Sedin. Perry’s plus/minus pales in comparison to Sedin, who posted a whopping +30. Even though he was exposed in the playoffs, Perry doesn’t nearly have the name recognition. And even though he scored more goals than Sedin, the Canuck had a 104-point season that included 63 assists. Overall, Sedin had the better numbers, even if he was on a better team. Plus, the face of the league needs to be recognizable, and voters know that. Daniel Sedin is a much more recognizable name and face than Corey Perry.