Cullen: NHL Award Selections

Scott Cullen
4/13/2011 3:00:15 PM
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There has been a lot of clamouring for my opinion on the NHL Awards -- okay, no there hasn't -- but since I spend all day, every day, ranking players and teams, the least I can do is apply my research into handing out a couple of awards.

Close races across the board this year, so there had to be some extra digging to break what could have been ties.

These end-of-season choices can be compared to first quarter and third quarter results.

Daniel Sedin, LW, Vancouver
Runners-up: Corey Perry, RW, Anaheim; Ryan Kesler, C, Vancouver

I could easily be swayed in Perry's direction, particularly because I was suspicious that Sedin might have fattened up his numbers against the Northwest Division, but Sedin had 61 points and plus-18 in 44 games against the Northwest and Pacific Divisions combined, whereas Perry had 60 points and plus-12 in 44 games, effectively neutralizing my concerns. With better 5-on-5 play, the edge goes to Daniel.

Shea Weber, Nashville
Runners-up: Lubomir Visnovsky, Anaheim; Nicklas Lidstrom, Detroit

Visnovsky put up sensational numbers (68 points, a career-high plus-18), but hardly killed penalties at all. Weber didn't have the same kind of production, though 16 goals and 48 points is impressive enough, but he ranked eighth among NHL defencemen in ice time (25:19 per game) and did it in all situations, so he gets my nod.

Jonathan Toews, C, Chicago
Runners-up: Ryan Kesler, C, Vancouver; Henrik Zetterberg, LW, Detroit

Terrific season for all my finalists, but since their numbers are similar, Toews gets a slight edge over Kesler on strength of opposition using strength of opposition, Corsi and Corsi relative strength of opposition numbers on and even though the Blackhawks' team penalty killing wasn't as proficient as Vancouver's, Toews was on for slightly fewer goals against per 60 minutes shorthanded (5.98 to 6.02) than Kesler.

Tim Thomas, Boston
Runners-up: Pekka Rinne, Nashville; Roberto Luongo, Vancouver

No arguing that Rinne and Luongo didn't have great seasons, but Thomas recorded the highest save percentage in history (it was first recorded in 1983-1984, but does anyone really think that, in old equipment, there were goaltenders stopping 94% of the shots they faced?) and did it on a Bruins team that allowed 32.7 shots against per game, second-most in the league.

Jeff Skinner, RW, Carolina
Runners-up: Logan Couture, C, San Jose; Michael Grabner, N.Y. Islanders

A slight edge to Skinner, not because of age, but because his linemates in Carolina weren't quite the calibre that Couture found himself with in San Jose yet, according to Corsi relative strength of opposition, they faced a similar calibre of opposition in 5-on-5 situations. By the way, not easy to bypass Grabner, who scored 34 goals for the Islanders even though he didn't play more than 14 minutes a game until February.

Barry Trotz, Nashville
Runners-up: Dan Bylsma, Pittsburgh; Dave Tippett, Phoenix

Can't argue against any of the possible choices and had Guy Boucher from Tampa Bay in the mix too. Year after year, Trotz rolls out a competitive team despite a limited budget. Bylsma benefitted from a league-best shootout record along the way, but keeping the Penguins in a playoff spot after losing Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby to long-term injuries deserves massive respect. Like Trotz, Tippett achieves results on a budget, with solid goaltending and a disciplined defensive team, even though the Coyotes weren't in quite the same lockdown mode that they were in 2009-2010.

Scott Cullen can be reached at and followed on Twitter at For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.

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