Posted: Monday April 12, 2010 5:04PM ; Updated: Wednesday June 23, 2010 1:44PM
Michael Farber
Michael Farber>INSIDE THE NHL

My 2010 awards ballot

Story Highlights

The NHL's MVP (Hart Trophy) is usually apparent, but it wasn't this season

Because defenseman is the most difficult position, it carries more Calder weight

The Selke has morphed from an award for best defensive to top two-way forward

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alex-ovechkin.jpg
Alexander Ovechkin's central role on the NHL's best team and his overall play made him my pick for the Hart Trophy.
Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Here is my NHL awards ballot, blemishes and all, that was sent to Ernst & Young -- I am told this is an accounting firm, not a couple of healthy scratches from the Wild lineup -- for compilation. The voting process is agony for me because the results announced in late June represent more than a night of trophies and tuxedos for NHL players. The awards are about their legacies.

A Hart, a Norris, a first-team all-star selection and even a Lady Byng will go on what high school principals used to, and maybe still call, your permanent record. Maybe winning the 2010 Selke puts a player over the top when the Hockey Hall of Fame selection committee mulls his candidacy in a decade or so. You never know.

So this is one man's vote, with an explanatory note at the end of each category.

Hart Trophy

1. Alexander Ovechkin, Washington
2. Henrik Sedin, Vancouver
3. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh
4. Ilya Bryzgalov, Phoenix
5. Ryan Miller, Buffalo

The NHL's MVP usually is apparent, at least to me. Not this year. There were three candidates I really couldn't separate -- and even now I'm not sure that I nailed this. Sedin was exceptional, especially in his brother Daniel's early-season absence. And Crosby, who scored 51 goals, continues to amaze and delight. I never thought I'd see him have more goals but fewer assists than Ovechkin, but there you go. The strict constructionists have a strong case that Crosby and both goalies were more valuable to their team than Ovechkin -- this is the definition of the award -- but then a goaltender might win every year. (In an exercise in group overthink in 2002, José Théodore beat Jarome Iginla.) Although Ovechkin had a stronger supporting cast than Crosby, his role as the fulcrum on the NHL's best team and his superior play against teams outside the Little Sisters of the Poor -- a.k.a. the Southeast Division -- swung me to the left winger.

Norris Trophy

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Six-time Norris-winner Nicklas Lidstrom is my pick for...the Lady Byng.
AP

1. Duncan Keith, Chicago
2. Mike Green, Washington
3. Drew Doughty, Los Angeles
4. Nicklas Lidstrom, Detroit
5. Chris Pronger, Philadelphia

Green had the best numbers, offensively and plus-minus. But despite Washington coach Bruce Boudreau's protestations, Green is not as reliable a defender as anyone else in the top four. Doughty should win this award multiple times, so consider Keith a caretaker. And even though he has slowed, there is no one I would want more on the ice in the last minute of a one-goal game than Lidstrom, a six-time winner.

Calder Trophy

1. Tyler Myers, Buffalo
2. Jimmy Howard, Detroit
3. Matt Duchene, Colorado
4. Tuukka Rask, Boston
5. TJ Galiardi, Colorado

The Islanders' John Tavares is not in the top five, probably because my expectations for him were so much greater than his middling season -- especially after a rousing start. Myers, a defenseman, ranks at the top because he plays the most difficult position to master for a rookie. (My inclination is always to lean towards the defenseman; once upon a time I liked Mattias Ohlund over Sergei Samsonov.) If Rask had played another 10 games, he might have leaped another two places.

Lady Byng Trophy

1. Nicklas Lidstrom, Detroit
2. Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay
3. Brad Richards, Dallas
4. Brian Rafalski, Detroit
5. Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit

This one is a snap for me. And it has been for years even though my fellow hockey writers never see it this way. I will be gobsmacked if St. Louis (94 points, 12 PIMs) doesn't win. St. Louis, of course, is a gifted winger. But Lidstrom plays on the top Wings defense pair, mucking it up against all the best forwards in the league. He averaged 25:25 per game. Still, he took only 12 minor penalties all season. Given the nature of his role, he should have been winning this award annually since the early years of the Bush administration.

Selke Trophy

1. Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit
2. Jordan Staal, Pittsburgh
3. Michal Handzus, Los Angeles
4. Jay McClement, St. Louis
5. Martin Hanzal, Phoenix

The award was designed to honor forwards like Bob Gainey, the true defensive specialists, but somewhere along the line the Selke lost its way and morphed into an honor for the best two-way forward. That's why it irks me to top my vote not with the estimable Staal but the best two-way forward, Datsyuk. Staal is a genuine pain to play against, but the fact is, there is no better defender than the amazing Datsyuk. He is a modern Houdini, magically swiping pucks, picking pockets. (Note: Because this always is a tough category for me to pick, I enlisted the opinions of some real experts -- several high-end forwards, including Chicago captain Jonathan Toews.)

All-Star Teams

Center
1. Henrik Sedin
, Vancouver
2. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh
3. Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay

Left Wing
1. Alexander Ovechkin
, Washington
2. Patrick Marleau, San Jose
3. Daniel Sedin, Vancouver

Right wing
1. Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay
2. Marian Gaborik, Rangers
3. Patrick Kane, Chicago

Defense
1. Duncan Keith
, Chicago
2. Mike Green, Washington
3. Drew Doughty, Los Angeles
4. Nicklas Lidstrom, Detroit
5. Chris Pronger, Philadelphia
6. Dan Boyle, San Jose

Goaltender
1. Ryan Miller, Buffalo,
2. Ilya Bryzgalov, Phoenix
3. Martin Brodeur, New Jersey

All-Rookie

Forwards
1. Matt Duchene
, Colorado
2. TJ Galiardi, Colorado
3. John Tavares, Islanders

Defensemen
1. Tyler Myers
, Buffalo
2. Michael Del Zotto, Rangers

Goaltender
1. Jimmy Howard, Detroit

 
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