NHL News and Notes: Award Finalists Announced
As the NHL season draws closer, allowing the league to join other sports coming back, award finalists are starting to be announced for the now-completed regular season. Furthermore, the Blue Jackets find themselves getting healthy once again, and the Blackhawks have another player missing practice.
Here are the latest NHL headlines and what you need to know.
Lindsay, Calder, Adams Finalists Announced
The regular season came to an abrupt end back in March, but there were still more than enough games played to be able to hand out some awards. This week, the NHL announced the finalists for several awards; the Ted Lindsay Award, Calder Memorial Trophy, and Jack Adams Award.
Oilers left wing Leon Draisaitl, Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon, and Rangers left wing Artemi Panarin were named as finalists for the Lindsay Award, given annually to “the most outstanding player in the NHL” as voted on by the NHL Players Association.
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Draisaitl, who led the league with 110 points, and Panarin, who had 95 points, are first-time nominees. MacKinnon, who finished with 93 points, was a finalist for the award back in 2017-18.
For the Calder Trophy, given to the league’s top rookie, there were three finalists; Canucks D Quinn Hughes, Blackhawks LW Dominik Kubalik, and Avalanche D Cale Makar. While Kubalik scored 30 goals, the battle is expected to be between Hughes and Makar.
Hughes managed 53 points in 68 games, the third defenseman to lead all rookies in scoring, joining Bobby Orr in 1967 and Brian Leetch in 1989. Meanwhlle, Makar had 50 points but played in 11 fewer games than Hughes, averaging a rookie-high 0.88 points per game.
Behind the bench, Bruce Cassidy, John Tortorella, and Alain Vigneault were the nominations for the Jack Adams Award, given to the top coach of the season. All of them have been nominated previously.
Cassidy, who was nominated in 2018, led the Bruins to the league’s top record at 44-14-12. Tortorella is a two-time winner and five-time finalist, leading the Blue Jackets through injuries and lost players in free agency to a 33-22-15 record.
Vigneault is also a five-time finalist for the award, leading the Flyers to a 41-21-7 record, their best since 2010-11.
All of the award winners will be announced during the conference finals.
Blue Jackets Getting Healthier
There were few, if any, teams who dealt with more injuries than the Blue Jackets. But if the long hiatus has been a positive for anyone, it’s a Columbus team who is getting some of their significant players back on the ice.
If the playoffs were played at their original dates, Columbus wouldn’t have had All-Star defenseman Seth Jones or leading goal-scorer Oliver Bjorkstrand on the ice, both of them out with broken ankles. However, both players are now healed and back at full speed, ready to play in the qualifying round.
Right wing Cam Atkinson is also ready to go after dealing with a high ankle sprain throughout the season. Same with goalies Joonas Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins, who will compete in net.
Those players all dealing with injuries, along with stars Artemi Panarin and goalie Sergei Bobrovsky leaving last summer in free agency, are a huge reason why John Tortorella is considered the favorite for the Jack Adams Award. The suddenly-healthy Blue Jackets will play a best-of-five series against the Maple Leafs starting on Aug. 2.
de Haan Misses Practice For Blackhawks
After goalie Corey Crawford missed practice and was deemed “unfit to play,” Blackhawks defenseman Calvin de Haan missed practice on Tuesday as well. However, his absence was due to a family emergency.
The 29-year-old de Haan is working his way back from right shoulder surgery, underwent in December. After being acquired from the Hurricanes last June, the defenseman had just six points in 29 games for Chicago this season.
Coach Jeremy Colliton said he isn’t sure when de Haan will return from his family emergency. But should he return and be healthy, he’ll help the Blackhawks take on the Oilers in a best-of-five series starting on Aug. 1.
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