Some Rangers Are Up for Awards Tonight

Henrik Lundqvist, John Tortorella, and Ryan Callahan.

We’ve always liked the way the NHL doles out its annual awards: Finalists are announced in each category, and all the individual trophies are given out on the same night at a ceremony with celebrity presenters. It’s just like the Oscars, except Nickelback is involved. This year’s awards ceremony takes place tonight in Las Vegas, and a few members of the Rangers family are in the running to take home some hardware. Here, the Rangers’ finalists and their chances.

The Award: Hart Memorial Trophy
What It’s For, via NHL.com “The Hart Memorial Trophy is an annual award given to the player judged to be the most valuable to his team.”
The Rangers’ Finalist: Henrik Lundqvist
The Competition: Evgeni Malkin and Steven Stamkos
Lundqvist’s Chances: Not very good. Lundqvist was certainly a valuable part of a Rangers team that almost won the Presidents Trophy, but Malkin should have no trouble picking up his first MVP. He led the NHL in scoring, was second in goals, and was the biggest reason the Penguins continued to play at a high level even while without Sidney Crosby.

The Award: Vezina Trophy
What It’s For, via NHL.com “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.”
The Rangers’ Finalist: Henrik Lundqvist
The Competition: Pekka Rinne and Jonathan Quick
Lundqvist’s Chances: Excellent. We’ve made our case for Lundqvist in this category already, but in short, his regular-season numbers (which are the only stats that matter here) were comparable to Quick’s, and while Quick had to carry his team more than Lundqvist did over the course of 82 games, Lundqvist got plenty of exposure, playing much of the season on a first-place team — one that even spent a month being followed by HBO’s cameras. Perhaps more importantly, as has been mentioned elsewhere, we suspect the G.M.’s believe that Lundqvist is “due” to win a Vezina, which might not be totally logical but could make the difference in a close vote.

The Award: Jack Adams Award
What It’s For, via NHL.com: “The Jack Adams Award is an annual award presented by the National Hockey League Broadcasters’ Association to the NHL coach judged to have contributed the most to his team’s success.”
The Rangers’ Finalist: John Tortorella
The Competition: Ken Hitchcock and Paul MacLean
Tortorella’s Chances: Terrible. Tortorella deserved to be a finalist because his team exceeded preseason expectations and finished with the East’s top seed. (The biggest argument for Tortorella is that the Rangers accomplished that by buying into his system, but he’d installed it long before this season began. Relatively gradual turnarounds don’t catch the eye of voters.) MacLean took a team that was wasn’t expected to do much this season and got it into the playoffs, albeit as a No. 8 seed. But Hitchcock should run away with this award. The Blues were 6-7-0 when he took over as coach and were 43-15-11 from that point on, good for a division title and the conference’s No. 2 seed.

The Award: Ted Lindsay Award
What It’s For, via NHL.com: “The Ted Lindsay Award is presented annually to the ‘most outstanding player’ in the NHL as voted by fellow members of the National Hockey League Players’ Association.”
The Rangers’ Finalist: Henrik Lundqvist
The Competition: Evgeni Malkin and Steven Stamkos
Lundqvist’s Chances: Not very good. Malkin was the most valuable player to his team this year and was the league’s most outstanding player, as well. Could it help that opposing skaters know better than anyone how good Lundqvist was this season? Maybe a little, but not enough to matter.

The Award: Mark Messier Leadership Award
What It’s For, via NHL.com: “The Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award presented by Bridgestone has been awarded since 2006-07 and is awarded ‘to the player who exemplifies great leadership qualities to his team, on and off the ice during the regular season.’”
The Rangers’ Finalist: Ryan Callahan
The Competition: Dustin Brown and Shane Doan
Callahan’s Chances: Who knows, but probably not very good. This has always struck us as a weird award. It’s basically “Captain of the Year” or “Best Leader,” and the things that go into making a good captain can’t really be quantified. Callahan got high marks in his first season as captain for basically doing what the description of this award says, but looking at the previous five winners, it appears to be an award that goes to a veteran player with years of leadership experience. In which case, we guess Doan would seem to be the most appropriate choice.

Some Rangers Are Up for Awards Tonight