With only a handful of games remaining in the 2018-2019 season, the National Hockey League (NHL) has started distributing ballots for writers, general managers (GMs), and members of the National Hockey League Players Association (NHLPA) to vote for players who they believe should win awards such as the Hart Memorial Trophy, The Ted Lindsey Trophy, The Jack Adams award, and many more.
On Saturday night, the New York Islanders officially clinched a playoff spot in a 5-1 win against the Buffalo Sabres. This was the first time the New York Islanders clinched a playoff spot on home ice since the 2001-2002 season. The Islanders still have more to potentially accomplish this season, but certainly have many storylines, players, and even management that could potentially win an award in late June.
Williams M. Jennings Trophy
Robin Lehner and Thomas Greiss
The Williams M. Jennings Trophy is an award given to the goaltender(s) “having played a minimum of 25 games for the team with the fewest goals scored against it” during the regular season.
Currently the New York Islanders are in first place in goals against throughout the league, only allowing 190 goals as of now. The closest team to the New York Islanders would be the Dallas Stars, who have allowed a total of 194 goals so far this season. If the Islanders remain first in the league after the season, the award would be given to both Robin Lehner and Thomas Greiss, who both played over twenty-five games for the Islanders.
The King Clancy Memorial Trophy
The King Clancy Memorial Trophy is an annual award given “to the player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community.”
Anders Lee’s yearly Kancer Jam is always a massive success, raking in a remarkable total of $127,839.00 this November. Anders Lee also tweeted out that he is starting a “Fernov Scholarships” program to deserving high school seniors who have helped someone. Lee is an amazing leader on and off the ice, and truly deserves at least a nomination for this award.
The Jack Adams Award
The Jack Adams Award is an award presented by the NHL Broadcasters’ Association to “the NHL coach adjudged to have contributed the most to his team’s success.” The winner is determined by a poll among the association’s members at the end of the regular season.
On Jul. 1, the New York Islanders were looked as an utter joke and many expected they would be contending for the first overall pick of the 2019 NHL Draft. Exactly seven months later the New York Islanders, clinched a playoff spot and currently have the fifth most points throughout the entire NHL. Barry Trotz and his coaching staff turned the lackluster Islanders to one of the most dominant and hardworking teams in the league. Very few people excepted the Islanders to make the playoffs, let alone be one of the best teams this season.
A large portion of the credit is obviously due to the players who have given their all this season and acted upon every word the coaching staff has said, but Trotz turned one of the worst defensive teams of all-time into the best the league has to offer in a span of months. There are a few other decent choices to win the award, but none have come close to overcoming what Trotz has done so far to this season. While Trotz could get snubbed, he is the favorite.
General Manager of the Year
General Manager of the Year is selected by the NHL GMs themselves, as well as a handful of writers and NHL executives.
Just like Barry Trotz, Lou Lamoriello has had to overcome a lot during the 2018-19 season. His additions of signing Valtteri Filppula and Leo Komarov were mocked by the entire NHL, as they were the big additions made after the departure of Tavares in the summer. Lamoriello did not sign or trade for any big named superstar players, but he brought in quality players to help bolster the locker room and help the team mature and head in the right direction.
Lamoriello’s NHL additions throughout the entire year were acquiring Matt Martin, Valtteri Filppula, Leo Komarov, Robin Lehner, and Tom Kuhnhackl. All of these players have been very impactful for the New York Islanders this season, and they might not be the “superstar players” with the pretty names and stats, but they certainly succeeded their expectations.
Bill Masterson Trophy
This is perhaps the easiest award to predict. The Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy is an award under the trusteeship of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association and is given “to the National Hockey League player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.”
Robin Lehner will without a doubt win this award, as he opened up and overcame about his battles against alcoholism and depression, and how teams steered away from signing Lehner due to these reasons. The Islanders gave Lehner a shot and he certainly made the best out of it, as he’s been an enormous factor towards the Islanders success this season. This has been one if not the biggest storyline throughout the entire NHL season and Lehner to be awarded for his heroic story.
The Vezina Trophy
The Vezina Trophy is an annual award given “to the goalkeeper adjudged to be the best at this position” as voted by the general managers of all NHL clubs.
Robin Lehner has been absolutely marvelous this season, not only having a very inspiring life altering story but he’s statistically been dominant throughout the entire season and could potentially be a Vezina Trophy candidate. Lehner ranks third in the NHL in goals Goals Against Average (GAA) with an outstanding 2.18 goals against. He is also tied for third in Save Percentage (SV%) with Jordan Bennington of the St. Louis Blues. Despite it being unlikely that Lehner will win the Vezina due to not being a big name and great seasons from other netminders, his effort and outstanding play should be awarded with at least finding top five in voting for the award.
The New York Islanders more than successful 2018-19 season has contained a team full of amazing stories and hardworking people coming together for one goal: the goal to prove everyone who doubted them wrong. These are the members within the organization who could potentially be awarded with for their efforts towards the end of June.