It is no secret that the players of the National Hockey League (NHL) are currently enjoying their off-season. Although that may be the truth, the NHL and its fans continue to celebrate its players' individual accomplishments at the 2023 NHL Awards, the NHL’s annual award ceremony, which was held on Monday, June 26, 2023 at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.
A total of 13 trophies were presented to multiple nominees, the ones who are considered to be the best of the best.
With so many big names in the NHL these days, who ended up taking home such prestigious hardware? Here’s a quick recap of who came out on top at this year’s NHL Awards ceremony.
Ted Lindsay Award
The Ted Lindsay Award started the award ceremony off strong as the first trophy to be handed out. This award, which honors the late Ted Lindsay, Hockey Hall of Famer, is given out to the player voted most outstanding by fellow members of the NHL Players Association (NHLPA).
This year’s Ted Lindsay nominees were:
Erik Karlsson, San Jose Sharks
Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers
David Pastrnak, Boston Bruins
At first glance, I had a gut feeling that McDavid would be the winner of the Ted Lindsay Award. All three nominees deserved to win this award with the seasons they’ve had, but overall McDavid was the clear winner after leading in goals, assists and points with 64 goals and 89 assists in 82 games this season. With such impressive stats like this, he was able to become the third player in NHL history, joining both Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux, to accomplish this feat.
Lady Byng Memorial Trophy
The Lady Byng Memorial Trophy is awarded to the player who exhibited the best type of sportsmanship, gentlemanly conduct and ability, as voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers Association.
This year’s nominees for the Lady Byng were:
Jack Hughes, New Jersey Devils
Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings
Brayden Point, Tampa Bay Lightning
Although Hughes and Point did not win the Lady Byng Trophy, I am glad that Kopitar won it instead. Kopitar managed to receive only four penalty minutes all season, which showcased his exceptional leadership and well-rounded character among the older players of the NHL. He also led the Kings in scoring with 74 points.
Mark Messier Leadership Award
One award that had not announced any nominees before the ceremony was the Mark Messier Leadership Award. This award is presented to the player who exemplifies great leadership qualities to his team on and off the ice during the regular season and who plays a leading role in his community in growing the game of hockey.
Steven Stamkos, Captain of the Tampa Bay Lightning, won this year’s Mark Messier Leadership Award. He won this award in part to him being the face of the franchise since his arrival to Tampa in 2008. Stamkos has led the Lightning to back-to-back championships (2020 and 2021), four total appearances in the Stanley Cup Final (2015 and 2022) and is ranked second in the league in goals with 515.
E.J. McGuire Award of Excellence
Determined by NHL Central Scouting, the E.J. McGuire Award of Excellence is given out to the prospect who best exemplifies the qualities of competitiveness, character and athleticism. This award is in honor of McGuire, who had served as director of Central Scouting from 2005 until his death in April of 2011.
The prospect who was pronounced the winner of this award was Connor Bedard, center for the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League (WHL), as he led his team in goals and points and helped Canada win a gold medal at the 2023 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Junior Championship. He was the first overall pick to the Chicago Blackhawks in this year’s 2023 NHL Draft which was held on Wednesday, June 28, 2023.
The next trophy to be awarded was the Calder Memorial Trophy. It is given to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition or deemed the most outstanding rookie.
This year’s nominees for the Calder Trophy were:
Matty Beniers, Seattle Kraken
Owen Power, Buffalo Sabres
Stuart Skinner, Edmonton Oilers
As Beniers accepted the Calder award on stage, I noted that he had an outstanding performance in the Kraken’s regular season push to the playoffs this season. He led the rookie class in scoring, with 57 points in 80 games, and only had two penalty minutes all season.
Frank J. Selke Award
The Frank J. Selke Award is given out annually to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game.
This year’s nominees for the Frank J. Selke Award were:
Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins
Nico Hischier, New Jersey Devils
Mitchell Marner, Toronto Maple Leafs
Examining the three players’ seasons, I truthfully argued that Bergeron would win with his experience and talent he presents to the Bruins each season. Winning this award for the sixth time, Bergeron, who is 37-years-old, posted 27 goals and 31 assists in 78 games this season and according to an NHL article discussing his win, he took 1,700 or more faceoffs. His play helped the Bruins’ defense as they only allowed just 2.1 goals per game based on that same article by the NHL.
Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy
As one of the most influential trophies to exist in the NHL, the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy highlights the player who best shows the qualities of perseverance, dedication and sportsmanship. An award that players usually do not want to win, it represents the significant hardships they have faced during the season.
Each nominee had a representative come up on stage and tell their stories.
This year’s nominees for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy were:
Kris Letang, Pittsburgh Penguins
Alex Stalock, Chicago Blackhawks
Clayton Keller, Arizona Coyotes
Being a Penguins fan, I automatically presumed that Letand would win this award because he has
dealt with so much this past season, from health scares to the loss of his father. Letang’s representative, who told his story, was his fellow French-Canadian teammate, Pierre-Olivier Joseph. Joseph lived with Letang throughout most of the regular season.
Letang’s story starts in late November when he suffered a stroke, the second of his career. This stroke was not deemed career-threatening for him and that pushed him to return to the ice less than two weeks later. Letang suffered a broken foot in late December. In January, Letang’s father passed away and Letang stepped away from the team for three weeks. His perseverance throughout this season of hardships is a true show of character and why he was nominated for this award.
There is no one more deserving of the Bill Masterton Trophy than him and I am so proud that he, his wife Catherine and their two children (son, Alex, and daughter, Victoria) were in attendance to receive the award.
The Vezina Trophy is awarded to the best goaltender in the NHL over the course of the season.
This year’s nominees for the Vezina Trophy were:
Connor Hellebuyck, Winnipeg Jets
Ilya Sorokin, New York Islanders
Linus Ullmark, Boston Bruins
With the Bruins impressive record this season, there is no doubt that Ullmark would take home the Vezina. His stellar stats include putting up a 40-6-1 record, a league leading .938 SV% and only allowing two goals or fewer in 36 of his 49 games is the biggest reason he won.
King Clancy Memorial Trophy
Awarded to the player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice while making significant and meaningful contributions to their community around them is the King Clancy Memorial Trophy.
This year’s nominees for the King Clancy Memorial Trophy were:
Mikael Backlund, Calgary Flames
Anders Lee, New York Islanders
Darnell Nurse, Edmonton Oilers
Following Backlund on Instagram, I have noticed he does a lot of charity work even in the midst of a challenging season. He has supported the ALS Society of Alberta in honor of his mother-in-law, who died from the disease. Backlund and his wife have raised more than $400,000 for the nonprofit and have welcomed almost 100 families affected by ALS to home games. He also supports The Kids Cancer Care and Special Olympics Calgary and partnered with Parachutes for Pets to create Lily's Legacy, named for his dog who died in 2021.
Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award
The Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award is given out to a person who makes a significant contribution to their community, culture and society through the sport of hockey.
The recipient for this award was Jason McCrimmon. He is a coach and mentor in the Detroit Area. He won the award because of his impact on countless kids and families with his work through various hockey programs, coaching, and mentoring.
Jack Adams Award
Coaches, just like the players, are big contributors to having an amazing season. That is why the Jack Adams Award is given out to the coach who is voted to have the most impact on his team.
This year’s nominees for the Jack Adams Award were:
Dave Hakstol, Seattle Kraken
Jim Montgomery, Boston Bruins
Lindy Ruff, New Jersey Devils
With the Bruins significant improvement year-over-year, Montgomery was the proven winner of the Jack Adams Award. The Bruins finished the season with a 65-12-5 record and scored 305 goals, which is second in the league.
James Norris Memorial Trophy
The James Norris Memorial Trophy is awarded to the defender who demonstrates the highest proficiency in all areas of the game.
This year’s nominees for the James Norris Memorial Trophy were:
Adam Fox, New York Rangers
Erik Karlsson, San Jose Sharks
Cale Makar, Colorado Avalanche
Looking at each of these players' names you can not argue that Karlsson had the most rewarding bounceback season of his career. He is the sixth defender in NHL history to record 100 points in a single season. His playing ability overall is the reason why he is the winner.
Hart Memorial Trophy
The Hart Memorial Trophy is considered to be the ultimate reward of the night. Given out annually, the Hart Memorial Trophy is awarded to the NHL player who was voted most valuable player to his team and his team’s success over the course of the regular season by the Professional Hockey Writers Association.
This year’s nominees for MVP were:
Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers
David Pastrnak, Boston Bruins
Matthew Tkachuk, Florida Panthers
With the Florida Panthers making it all the way to the Stanley Cup finals against the Vegas Golden Knights, I assumed that Tkachuk would win the Hart Memorial Trophy because he carried the team throughout the regular season and in each series of the playoffs.
McDavid, as the winner of this award, is certainly not surprising to many as he clearly is the most valuable player in the NHL, and he has won this award two other times in his career. As a 26-year-old, McDavid became only the fifth player in NHL history to claim four awards in one single night including the Hart Trophy, Ted Lindsay Award, Art Ross Trophy and Rocket Richard Trophy.
Jim Gregory General Manager of the Year Award
The Jim Gregory General Manager of the Year Award is presented to the general manager who best excelled at his role during the regular season. This award was announced at the 2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft. It was voted on by the League’s General Managers and a panel of NHL executives, print and broadcast media.
This year’s nominees for the Jim Gregory General Manager of the Year were:
Jim Nill, Dallas Stars
Don Sweeney, Boston Bruins
Bill Zito, Florida Panthers
Nill made the win even more impressive as he had accomplished so much over his decade of being in Dallas to develop the Stars into a consistent playoff team. He added pieces to the team including good drafting, staying within a manageable salary cap position and trading for players who made the roster better in the long run.
Edited by: Kaya Crawford