The Montreal Canadiens were expected to finish as one of the worst teams in the league this season. On paper, the roster was inferior to the one that finished 28th in the NHL the previous season after a few trades made with the future in mind during the summer. But Montreal got a team effort from its roster to end the year in the top half of the standings. No player won an individual award for their play, but some were still rewarded with votes.
Jesperi Kotkaniemi’s surprising emergence as an NHL-ready centreman was a big reason why the Canadiens surprised a lot of people. The youngest player in the NHL scored 11 goals and added 23 assists for 34 points, pivoting the third line for the majority of the season.
He did not get any recognition for his debut from the Professional Hockey Writers Association, whose members voted on the award. Kotkaniemi didn’t receive even a fifth-place vote on the 171 ballots counted.
Voting for the Calder Memorial Trophy as selected by members of the PHWA: pic.twitter.com/YbRGKOPnTe— PHWA (@ThePHWA) June 20, 2019
Lady Byng Trophy
Forty-nine players were on the various PHWA Lady Byng ballots, but again no Canadiens were present. Perhaps the ornery nature of a team battling to overcome the odds and claim a playoff spot allowed little room for gentlemanly behaviour.
Voting for the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy as selected by members of the PHWA: pic.twitter.com/FU1pWq7sWP— PHWA (@ThePHWA) June 20, 2019
General Manager of the Year
The Canadiens getting within a win of a post-season position wasn’t enough to earn Marc Bergevin much love for his work during the year. Montreal’s manager received one third-place vote.
Jim Nill finished 9th in NHL GM of the year voting pic.twitter.com/AeEAlx4Qi7— Sean Shapiro (@seanshapiro) June 20, 2019
King Clancy Memorial Trophy
Max Domi was nominated for the award for his humanitarian contributions in the community. The Award went to Jason Zucker of the Minnesota Wild for his hand in creating an arena-like setting at a hospital so young fans could enjoy Wild games in style.
Ted Lindsay Award
The players voted on their own version of the MVP, the Ted Lindsay Award, choosing Nikita Kucherov who led the league in both assists and toal points.
Mark Giordano finally won his Norris after he should have claimed one a few years ago. One Canadiens defender did get recognized for his great season. Jeff Petry, who stepped into the top role in Shea Weber’s absence, received one fifth-place vote to finish tied for 18th.
Voting for the James Norris Memorial Trophy as selected by members of the PHWA: pic.twitter.com/SsCCWCs2Ov— PHWA (@ThePHWA) June 20, 2019
Robin Lehner opened up about his struggles with mental health in the off-season. After getting some help to alleviate the issues, he came back this year and had a phenomenal season in goal for the New York Islanders.
Ryan O’Reilly played a big role in turning the St. Louis Blues’ season around as the club went from 31st place in January to a playoff spot, and eventually a Stanley Cup championship. He claimed the Selke Trophy for his defensive work throughout the year.
Phillip Danault earned some praise for his work on the Canadiens’ top line, where he was one of the league’s top possession players, and also Montreal’s top penalty-killing forward. He was seventh in voting, with one first-place nod.
Voting for the Frank J. Selke Trophy as selected by members of the PHWA: pic.twitter.com/ZElunlIDLc— PHWA (@ThePHWA) June 20, 2019
Jack Adams Award
The coach of year was Barry Trotz, who joined am Islanders team that finished last in goals against in 2017-18 and pulled them all the way to first place this season, earning them a post-season berth despite losing their captain and top player in free agency during the off-season.
Claude Julien received two third-place votes.
Andrei Vasilevskiy ran away with the award for the league’s top goalie. After a poor start took him well out of the running for the trophy to begin the year, a return to elite form was enough to place Carey Price in seventh.
Vezina Trophy voting, Bishop was second. It really wasn't close with Vasilevskiy taking 28 of the 31 first-place votes pic.twitter.com/rba4Iz2cE4— Sean Shapiro (@seanshapiro) June 20, 2019
Mark Messier Leadership Award
The award presented by Messier himself went to Wayne Simmonds.
The final award of the night went to the player deemed to be the most valuable to his team during the year. In the end, the PHWA saw things the same way the players did, With Kucherov claiming the year’s top individual award as well.