I don't have a vote, but if I did:
-- Henrik Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks would be my Hart Trophy choice. It's hardly scientific analysis, but my sense of watching him, Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby this season is that Sedin played at the highest level on a consistent basis, that his play was less peaks and valleys than the two faces of the game today.
I am not even going to use the “most valuable to his team” proviso because, for me, the Hart Trophy is more about the player who performed at the highest level all season than it is who was most valuable to his team, even though the wording says that.
I know Sedin comes up light in the goal department but game in, game out, he was absolutely terrific in every aspect of the game. You could pick any one of the three and rationalize it. I mean, Ovechkin played 10 less games than the others and still produced at an astonishing rate. Crosby doesn't have the supporting cast of Ovechkin and tied for the Rocket Richard Trophy with Stamkos and Sedin won the Art Ross.
As for the goalies - Buffalo's Ryan Miller and Phoenix's Ilya Bryzgalov - I would only consider a netminder for the Hart if the goalie dominated his position and the league the way Dominik Hasek did when he was in his prime. Pitchers shouldn't be excluded from MVP voting in baseball and goalies shouldn't automatically be out of the Hart race in hockey, but their numbers need to be phenomenal, off the charts.
-- Buffalo's Tyler Myers would be my choice for the Calder Trophy winner as rookie of the year.
Colorado's Matt Duchene would be my runner-up and I'd have to flip a coin between the two rookie goalies - Detroit's Jimmy Howard and Boston's Tuuka Rask - for the third spot.
I would probably give it to Howard on the basis of the heavier workload, although it seems ludicrous that the goalie - not just the rookie goalie - with the best goals-against average and best save percentage in the entire NHL doesn't get a vote for the Calder. One could argue 45 games isn't enough for Rask to win a major award but since Tom Barrasso won the Calder (over some kid named Yzerman) and the Vezina with fewer games than that, well, it's certainly not unprecedented. Come to think of it, Rask has to get a vote here and I feel shame and guilt for it being a third-place vote.
Sorry, Tuuka. Sorry, Jimmy. But I really liked Duchene's year and think he deserves the recognition for an amazing contribution to one of the biggest surprise teams in the NHL this season.
Okay, I am obliged to make playoff predictions, so here they are in all their gory glory: Washington over Montreal in 6; Philadelphia over New Jersey in 6; Buffalo over Boston in 7; Pittsburgh over Ottawa in 6; San Jose over Colorado in 6; Chicago over Nashville in 6; Los Angeles over Vancouver in 6; Detroit over Phoenix in 5.
Predictions may be the dumbest thing ever - I mean, if the media was any good at forecasting outcomes, we'd all be living in mansions in Vegas -- but they go with the territory. So there you go…