NHL notes: Nathan MacKinnon, Canadian team stars shine at awards

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Nathan MacKinnon led all NHL forwards in total time on ice this season, so it was logical he make two trips to the podium for Thursday’s two most important trophies on awards night. 

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The Colorado Avalanche centre won both the Hart and Ted Lindsay hardware as most valuable player and most outstanding, voted by the Professional Hockey Writers Association and his peers, respectively. 

In doing so, he out-polled two Canadian franchise stars, Connor McDavid of the Oilers for his first Hart and Toronto’s regular-season goal leader Auston Matthews for the Lindsay. In getting both baubles, he also edged league points champion Nikita Kucherov of the Tampa Bay Lightning. 

In paying tribute to the runners-up, Halifax native MacKinnon said “I think everyone knows, it was a real toss-up this year,” adding “some of my favourite players ever have won this (Hart) and you need great players around you.”  

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But the seven northern franchises weren’t shut out as Vancouver captain Quinn Hughes became the first Canuck to win the Norris Trophy, dominating Roman Josi and Cale Makar as top defenceman, while Winnipeg Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck captured his second Vezina as chosen by league general managers. 

McDavid also edged Matthews and his league-best 69 goals for second all-star team centre behind MacKinnon, with Oilers teammate Evan Bouchard just falling short of second team defence. Hellebuyck also finished 1-2 in all-star voting with Vezina finalist Thatcher Demko of the Canucks. 

MacKinnon had 140 regular-season points, four back of Kucherov, eight more than McDavid. MacKinnon had 137 of 194 possible first-place Hart votes. He used part of his Lindsay speech to salute teammate Andrew Cogliano on his recent retirement after 17 seasons. 

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Connor Bedard, out a month with a broken jaw, yet determined to come back early to the Chicago Blackhawks lineup, won rookie of the year in the writers’ vote. The 18-year-old was still able to top the Hawks with 61 points, edging Brock Faber of the Minnesota Wild and Luke Hughes of the New Jersey Devils, though all three were part of the all-rookie team.

You can bet all would have swapped places at Fontainebleu Hotel on the Vegas Strip to be partying like the Florida Panthers have all week.

Previously announced winners were Stanley Cup winner Aleksander Barkov (Frank Selke as top defensive forward), Arizona’s Connor Ingram (Bill Masterton for dedication to hockey), Jaccob Slavin of the Hurricanes (the Lady Byng, just four minor penalties in 81 games while playing defence), Islanders’ Anders Lee (King Clancy for leadership on and off the ice), Dallas Stars’ Jim Nill (Jim Gregory GM of the year) and Vancouver’s Rick Tocchet (Jack Adams, coach of the year)    

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FOUR NATION ARMY 

Friday will also be the announcement of the first six players on each roster of the Four Nations Face-Off, beginning with Sweden and Finland at 6 a.m. Eastern time for European fans, Canada at 11 a.m. and the United States a half hour later.  

McDavid and MacKinnon (Canada) and Matthews (U.S.), Barkov (Finland) and Canucks’ Elias Pettersson (Sweden) are expected to be in the first wave. The tournament is in February.    

ICE CHIPS 

The 2024-25 NHL regular season schedule should be released around Tuesday … Buffalo moved up to 11th in Friday’s first-round draft order after completing a trade with San Jose for the Sabres’14th and 42nd picks … The Flames shipped forward Andrew Mangiapane out after seven seasons to Washington for a second round pick … Jeff Skinner’s days in Buffalo might end after the league’s first off-season buyout opened Thursday, running through Sunday. Dallas is reportedly cashing out $1.4 million US of Ryan Suter’s contract, which would be the second time a buyout has happened in the 39-year-old defenceman’s career … Dakota Joshua joined Teddy Blueger with a new deal in Vancouver to solidify the sandpaper element on Tocchet’s forward lines. Joshua signed a four-year deal at $3.25 million … The Kings have traded RFA forward Carl Grundstrom to the Sharks for defenceman Kyle Burroughs … Boston GM Don Sweeney hinted the club is not getting anywhere with a new deal for winger Jake DeBrusk. He and defenceman Chris Tanev, who is now done in Dallas, have been mentioned as possible Leaf targets next week … Claude Julien has joined the coaching staff in St. Louis under Drew Bannister, with Steve Ott moved up to associate coach … Thirty years ago Friday, in the last draft ever held in Hartford, came the first 1-2 selection of defencemen, Ed Jovanovski (Florida) and Oleg Tverdovsky (Anaheim). It was also the day the Leafs traded captain Wendel Clark to Quebec for future francgise scoring leader Mats Sundin … Might as well start a rivalry when they’re young as top prospects on the Leafs and Canadiens will battle at the Bell Centre in Montreal on Sept. 14 and 15. 

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