2012 NHL Awards Recap
By Jennifer Saenz
Jun 22, 2012 - 12:15:09 AM

LAS VEGAS—It was a big night in the desert as the Wynn’s Las Vegas Casino hosted the 2012 NHL Awards June 20th, a celebration of excellence during the regular season. Here are the winners of some of the top prizes of the evening.
Evgeni Malkin wins big at the 2012 NHL Awards.

No one expected to beat out Evgeni Malkin for the Hart Trophy, given to the MVP of the league. He had come into his own this season, with career-high goal scoring and a 100-point season.  Touted by the media as the “Greatest Player in the World” Malkin proved just that, not only trekking away with the Hart, but also the Art Ross for points leader and the Ted Lindsay Award for most outstanding player as voted by the league.
The James Norris Trophy, for best defenseman, is a category that has been dominated in past years by Detroit’s Nicklas Lidstrom. Not a nominee this year, his late May retirement after 20 years in the NHL stops the win count at seven, leaving room for fellow Swede, Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson, to walk away with the honors.
A crowd favorite, the Calder Memorial Trophy for the league’s best rookie pushes the freshest talent in hockey to prove to their teams, the league, and the fans that they have what it takes to play in the big times. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was the early favorite in the year, a lightning fast pure goal scorer whose lengthy injury throughout the latter half of the season did not deter his tying for first in goals scored by a rookie. RNH was the highlight of a struggling Edmonton Oilers team and a guaranteed cornerstone player in the future success of the franchise.
Gabriel Landeskog, alternatively, came into his own after the All-Star break. Not only did he manage to play all 82 games of the season, he was a vital clutch player during the Colorado Avalanche’s push to make the play-offs. Never afraid to get into the dirty areas on the ice, he had both the most shots on goal as well as the most hits by a rookie, a testament to his all-around style of play.
Gabriel Landeskog, Calder Trophy winner for best rookie.
Adam Henrique was a pivotal defenseman on the New Jersey Devils’ push toward the post-season continuing to the Stanley Cup finals. Playing game after game against the top lines, he proved he had what it takes to go head to head with the NHL’s most explosive offensive players. If the playoffs counted, Henrique would have had no problem walking away with the prize, but Landeskog’s dynamics in the regular season were enough to capture the Calder this year.

Last but not least is the Vezina Trophy, the award for the player who ultimately makes or breaks a team, the goaltender. Nashville’s Pekka Rinne was a big reason for the Predator’s success this season. At 6’5, he made seeing the net behind the pads a monumental task. As for Jonathan Quick, his low to the ground style of play and brilliant horizontal movement on the ice were no match for the late start his team had in generating steam into the post season.  Still, he walked away with a Conn Smythe and Stanley Cup, so no love is lost.
In the end, it was Henrik Lundqvist’s trophy to lose. His fourth nomination, Lundqvist has been a consistently strong netminder whose 1.97 goals against average helped the New York Rangers top the Eastern Conference with the league’s best regular season record. His strength between the pipes and ability to make game changing saves made him the easy choice.
Other notable wins were Boston’s Patrice Bergeron, who took home the Selke for best defensive forward. Max Pacioretty won the Bill Masterson for perseverance, coming back from critical injury. St. Louis’ Ken Hitchcock got the Jack Adams for best coach and finally Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos won the Maurice Richard as the top goal scorer.

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