And the winner of the NHL Awards are...

Jun 19, 2019 3:00 AM

Las Vegas’ very own James Holzhauer, who recently completed a near-record run as champion on “Jeopardy!” will be among the presenters at NHL Awards ‘19.

Holzhauer, a professional sports bettor, will be among the best of in hockey and Hollywood at  Wednesday’s show, slated for Mandalay Bay Events Center. “Saturday Night Live” star Kenan Thompson will host the program.

Holzhauer, a self-described fan of the Vegas Golden Knights, amassed $2,452,216 (second all-time) over his 32 victories. He will be joined on stage by NASCAR driver Kurt Busch, Miss USA Cheslie Kryst, and others as presentors.

Here is a brief overview of the three finalists (listed alphabetically) among the major awards:

Vezina Trophy
(Top Goaltender)

Ben Bishop (DAL)

Robin Lehrer (NYI)

Andrei Vasilevskiy (TBL)

And the winner is... Vasilevskiy backed the Lightning to a record-tying 62 wins. And since all awards are based on regular-season play only, this could be an unanimous vote.

Calder Trophy
(Top Rookie)

Jordan Binnington (STL)

Rasmus Dahlin (BUF)

Elias Pettersson (VAN)

And the winner is ... Petersson posted a fast start, Binnington owned the second-half after being recalled from the minors as a 25-year old. However, the more consisent, season-long standout was Dahlin, the Sabres defenseman.

Jack Adams Trophy
(Coach of the Year)

Craig Berube (STL)

Jon Cooper (TBL)

Barry Trotz (NYI)

And the winner is ... This is a toughie. Trotz’s turned around a defense that went from worst to first, Cooper’s squad breezed to the President’s Trophy, while Berube came to the bench at midseason and took the Blues from last in the NHL into the playoffs and ultimately to the Stanley Cup championship.

Cooper would be embarrassed to accept the award after the Bolts were swept in the first round of the playoffs, Berube got his prize in the Stanley Cup, so the lean is toward Trotz for turning around both the Isles and Washington Capitals in recent years.

Hart Trophy

Sidney Crosby (PIT)

Nikita Kucherov (TBL)

Connor McDavid (EDM)

And the winner is ... Crosby is on the list to keep U.S. advertisers happy. Same goes for McDavid and his Canadian audience. Thus, Kucherov, the scoring leader for Tampa Bay, should easily capture the Hart.

GM of the Year

Doug Armstrontg (STL)

Don Sweeney (BOS)

Don Waddell (CAR)

And the winner is ... Since no one really cares, can we just allow Vegas’ George McPhee to keep the unnamed trophy?

What? I have to choose? Well, since it’s not clear who changed the Blues’ goalie (Armstrong or coach Berube), that’s a pass. Boston was supposed to be good anyway, so the lean is to Waddell, a person who once refused to hire me with the San Diego Gulls — See, no hard feelings!

Norris Trophy
(Top Defenseman)

Brent Burns (SJS)

Mark Giordano (CGY)

Victor Hedman (TBL)

And the winner is ... Should Giordano not claim the Messier, then the Norris is his over Burns. Hedman gets knocked out because voters consider Tampa Bay to be more of a team which wins on offense, plus Vasilevskiy will already win the Vezina.

Selke Trophy
(Defensive Forward)

Patrice Bergeron (BOS)

Ryan O’Reilly (STL)

Mark Stone (OTT/VGK)

And the winner is ... This award for best defensive forward should go to Stone based on his play this season. However, it will instead go to Bergeron, an 8-time finalist, making this a career award. If the NHL ever offers a Faceoff Award, O’Reilly would be a clear favorite, thus...

Lady Byng Trophy
(Gentlemanly Play)

Aleksander Barkov (FLA)

Sean Monahan (CGY)

Ryan O’Reilly (STL)

And the winner is ... O’Reilly will win here to make-up for other oversights. Barkov and Monahan are also well-serving, so an upset here is definitely possible.

Blues reward backers

Kudos to those bettors — certainly not me — which early on recognized the turnaround by the St. Louis Blues, riding them to the franchise’s first Stanley Cup title in their 52-year history.

For years, club management remained steadfast in keeping Jake Allen (and before him, Brian Elliott), as their goalie. But when head coach Mike Yeo (and Ken Hitchcock before him) couldn’t gain positive results (except for a conference final appearance in 2016), the Blues looked into their own system and brought in former NHL tough man Craig “Chief” Berube to coach a collection of underachievers.

And the rest is “Gloria!”

For those cashing Futures tickets listed at triple-figures, congratulations. Likewise, congrats to those which faded the first-place Blues over the previous four seasons, as recommeneded in this column.

Although I never ride a bandwagon, I was just in time in selecting Blues captain O’Reilly as the Conn Smythe Trophy winner as MVP of the postseason. That ticket at 10-1 offset my losses on the Bruins in the Stanley Cup Final.

2020 Cup futures

Using PATH (Protocol on American Thanksgiving on Hockey), I would imagine few surprises in Futures odds to captured the 2020 Stanley Cup. 

However, a breakdown of these numbers does raise eyebrows, meaning linemakers are becoming more serious on the numbers after the mass liability paid on St. Louis tickets.

Some are obvious, especially among the favorites, with Tampa Bay the leader of the pack at 6-1, followed by Vegas (7-1), Boston  and  Toronto (both 10-1).

Despite their success in having reach their Eastern Finals, Carolina is not getting much respect from the books. The Hurricanes are 30-1 to win the Cup. So are the New York Islanders, the team Carolina swept in the conference semis.

One major surprise comes in the Central Division, where St. Louis is 14-1 ro repeat with rising Colorado at 10-1. 

The two clubs that finished above them — Winnipeg (16-1) and Nashville (25-1) are both deeply downgraded, along with playoff participant Dallas (30-1).

If the entire Central is being faded by the books — and since three of the teams must reach the playoffs — a look at Chicago or Minnesota (40-1 each) could become an opportunity for hockey bettors who are seeking for a bit of value .

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