The Montreal Canadiens started the NHL Awards 0 for 1 as Marc Bergevin was passed over for General Manager of the Year in favor of Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ray Shero. The fact that these are regular season awards that are voted on before the playoffs begin makes it easy to believe many voters were swayed by Shero’s ability to load up his roster at the deadline.
What Shero neglected to do however, was upgrade his two biggest needs, which were goaltending and especially the Penguins defense. In hindsight, seeing that the Pens scored only two goals in their four game sweep at the hands of the Bruins, Shero’s moves are certainly being called into question.
Moving on to tonight’s awards, Brendan Gallagher and P.K. Subban await the announcement of the Calder and Norris Trophy winners. Gallagher is up for the Calder as the NHL’s top rookie and Subban is in the running for best defenseman in the league.
Gallagher is up against Jonathan Huberdeau of the Florida Panthers and the Chicago Blackhawks winger Brandon Saad for best first year player. Gallagher is the biggest surprise of the three nominees, as most would have expected him to not even be the top rookie on his team at the beginning of the year.
Drafted in the 5th round of the 2010 NHL entry draft, Gallagher would go on to dominate the Western Hockey League as a member of the Vancouver Giants. Gallagher finished his Junior career with three straight 40 goal seasons before turning pro at the beginning of this year.
Due to the lockout, Gallagher began the year in Hamilton with the American Hockey League’s Bulldogs. Standing only 5 feet and 8 inches tall, many believed it would take him plenty of time to translate his scoring to the professional level. Gallagher would expedite the process and be among the Bulldogs scoring leaders when the NHL season began in January.
Gallagher impressed enough in camp to make the NHL roster but would be a healthy scratch for the season opener against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Brendan would make his way into the lineup for the second game and never looked back, leading the Canadiens with 15 goals and chipping in 13 assists, finishing fourth among rookies with 28 points.
If Gallagher takes home the Calder, he would be the first Canadien to do so since Ken Dryden was the top rookie in 1972.
It has widely been rumored that Subban’s name has been leaked as the winner of the Norris Trophy. We will not know for sure until the victor is announced this evening, but Subban stands to be the first Canadien to take home the Norris since Chris Chelios in 1989.
Subban, like Gallagher, began the NHL season on the sidelines as he waited for his contract to be settled. He would miss the six opening games of the abbreviated season but made up for it as soon as he hit the ice.
P.K. would finish with the most goals among all blueliners in the NHL with 11, and tied with Kris Letang for most points with 38 in his 42 games played. Letang, along with Ryan Suter of the Minnesota Wild are also in the running for the Norris.
Subban showed plenty of potential over the past few seasons but was able to put it all together this season and deliver in becoming one of the NHL’s best defenders. Running the power play alongside Andrei Markov, the pair were nearly unstoppable with the man advantage.
Subban led all defenders with 26 points on the power play and Markov was second in the league with 23. Subban showed versatility throughout the year as he began the season paired with veteran Francis Bouillon, but when his play demanded more ice time he was moved up alongside Josh Gorges. Once injuries took their toll, Subban was paired at even strength with Markov and played excellent no matter who he was paired with.
P.K. played a much more mature game than he has in the past, his turnover numbers dwindling and his recklessness reduced to a minimum. His plus minus of plus 12 was a direct result of his improved defensive game, which allows him to be a true number one defenseman on the Montreal Canadiens.
If the rumors prove to be true, Subban will also be the number one defenseman in the National Hockey League.