The last game of 2017-18 was played two weeks ago, but it feels like the offseason is just now starting.
I’m traveling to Dallas today for the NHL draft, which begins tomorrow and wraps up Saturday. The Wild currently has eight picks, which is double the amount of selections it made two years ago.
On Sunday, the window to begin interviewing free agents opens – a precursor to the free-agent signing period kicking off July 1. And next Monday, qualifying offers to restricted free agents are due.
Before the hockey world turns its attention to Dallas, the focus was on Las Vegas Wednesday for the NHL Awards.
There were few surprises, one particularly close race for league MVP and no winners from the Wild; only winger Jason Zucker was nominated (King Clancy Memorial Trophy), but coach Bruce Boudreau (Jack Adams Award), defensemen Ryan Suter (Norris Trophy) and Jared Spurgeon (Lady Byng Trophy), captain Mikko Koivu (Selke Trophy), winger Mikael Granlund (Lady Byng) and center Eric Staal (Lady Byng and Hart Trophy) each received at least one vote.
As a member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, I was tasked with voting on a handful of the awards. Below is my ballot; actual winners are bolded.
HART TROPHY (player most valuable to his team):
1. Nathan MacKinnon, Avalanche.
2. Taylor Hall, Devils.
3. Anze Kopitar, Kings.
4. Claude Giroux, Flyers.
5. Blake Wheeler, Jets.
NORRIS TROPHY (defenseman who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position):
1. Victor Hedman, Lightning.
2. Drew Doughty, Kings.
3. P.K. Subban, Predators.
4. John Carlson, Capitals.
5. Seth Jones, Blue Jackets.
CALDER TROPHY (player selected as the most proficient in his first year):
1. Mathew Barzal, Islanders.
2. Brock Boeser, Canucks.
3. Charlie McAvoy, Bruins.
4. Kyle Connor, Jets.
5. Clayton Keller, Coyotes.
LADY BYNG TROPHY (player who exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability):
1. Ryan O’Reilly, Sabres.
2. William Karlsson, Golden Knights.
3. Alexander Barkov, Panthers.
4. Auston Matthews, Maple Leafs.
5. Anze Kopitar, Kings.
SELKE TROPHY (forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game):
1. Patrice Bergeron, Bruins.
2. Anze Kopitar, Kings.
3. Mikko Koivu, Wild.
4. Alexander Barkov, Panthers.
5. Sean Couturier, Flyers.
NHL All-Star Team:
CENTER: Connor McDavid, Oilers. Nathan MacKinnon, Avalanche. Evgeni Malkin, Penguins.
RIGHT WING: Nikita Kucherov, Lightning. Blake Wheeler, Jets. Phil Kessel, Penguins.
LEFT WING: Claude Giroux, Flyers. Taylor Hall, Devils. Alex Ovechkin, Capitals.
DEFENSE: Victor Hedman, Lightning. Drew Doughty, Kings. P.K. Subban, Predators. John Carlson, Capitals. Seth Jones, Blue Jackets. Shayne Gostisbehere, Flyers.
GOALTENDER: Pekka Rinne, Predators. Connor Hellebuyck, Jets. Andrei Vasilevskiy, Lightning.
NHL All-Rookie Team:
FORWARD: Mathew Barzal, Islanders. Brock Boeser, Canucks. Kyle Connor, Jets.
DEFENSE: Charlie McAvoy, Bruins. Will Butcher, Devils.
GOALTENDER: Juuse Saros, Predators.