As many of you know the Bruins had a few players win individual awards for their performance last season. Tuukka Rask won the Vezina Trophy for the best goalie in the NHL Bergeron won the Selke Trophy for the best defensive forward in the NHL Chara finished in second for the Norris Trophy which goes to the leagues best defenseman and Krug was in the running for the Calder Trophy for the best rookie. Yes this years team will likely have a few rookies none of them will see enough ice time to get much attention in the Calder race but the Vezina Selke and Norris trophies are possibilities.
The first trophy on the List is the Vezina trophy which was on by Tuukka Rask last season and could very well be awarded to him again this year. In the past 6 seasons the Vezina has be awarded to a Bruins goalie 3 times Tim Thomas in the 2008-09 season and in the 2010-11 season and to Rask last season. The reason behind the Bruins goalies success is a team wide effort that is put into playing great defense. When you have perennial Norris and Selke trophy finalists your team is clearly a great defensive team. Rask is not just some average goalie on a great team however he is an elite talent which is why he is considered a favorite to win the award again this year. If Rask wins the Vezina Trophy again this season which I think he will it will be the first repeat winner since Martin Brodeur did it in the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons. Also the back to back wins would put Rask in all time great company with the only goalies to win the Vezina back to back seasons since 1981 being Patrick Roy, Dominik Hasek, and the previously mentioned Martin Brodeur. That is some great company to be in as a NHL goalie and at the young age of 27 Rask's skills won't be declining any time soon. If Rask can win the Vezina again this season it will give him the opportunity to join only Dominik Hasek as the second goalie to win the award three years in a row. With the Bruins playing in the weaker eastern conference and continuing to play a defense first style I see Rask as the winner of the Vezina Trophy at the end of the year. Considering Rask lost his second best defenseman in Seidenberg just 34 games into the season and Adam McQuaid was limited to just 30 games the fact that he put up a 2.04 GAA and a .930 SV% with 7 shutouts is very impressive. With both of those defensemen now back fully healthy there is no reason Rask can not put up those numbers again this season to win his second straight Vezina Trophy.
Now on to the second Trophy that should be sitting in a Bruins player's trophy case the Frank J. Selke Trophy. Now the Bruins have a list of good two way players with Marchand Eriksson Kelly and Campbell but the best of the team and the NHL is Patrice Bergeron who won the Selke last season. Bergeron won the Selke Trophy for the second time last season also winning the award in the 2011-12 season. Bergeron is a fantastic two way player who dominates the face off dots kills penalties plays on the power play can score 60 plus points and is like a third defenseman on the ice. In the two seasons Bergeron has won the Selke he has scored over 60 points and had a plus minus rating above 35. With Marchand likely to have a better season after a very bad start to last year and a hopefully resigned Smith who continues to grow Bergeron should easily put up at least 60 points. Yes he scored 30 goals last season for the second time in his career but he took the second most shots in his career as well so he likely won't score 30 again but his assists numbers should be around 40. With the team as a whole not losing much defensively Bergeron should again be able to put up an impressive plus minus in the high 30s. His major competition for the award will come from Toews and Kopitar. Kopitar is really the biggest threat to Bergeron repeating but playing on the west coast tends to hurt players in the awards races. As long as Bergeron can stay at the top in face off percentage and have a higher plus minus he should be able to overcome Kopitar's superior offensive numbers. I see Bergeron likely winning third Selke trophy with a plus minus around 37 and 66 points as well as being top 5 in face off win percentage and leading the Bruins penalty kill.
Now the final major award a Bruins player could win is the Norris Trophy for the leagues top defenseman. Last season Chara finished in second place for this award behind winner Duncan Keith. This year it is time for a young future star to come into his own. Dougie Hamilton is poised to have a break out season this year much like how Krug played last year. During this past season Hamilton played in 64 games and finished with only 25 points and a plus 22 rating but once the playoffs started he came alive scoring 7 points in just 12 games. Much like Krug during the last Stanley Cup finals run Hamilton showed impressive offensive skills during the most important time of the year. With Krug still unsigned Hamilton will receive an increase in power play time until Krug is up to speed and if he impresses he could play on the top power play unit. Hamilton will be in his third NHL season so all of those rookie mistakes should be mostly eliminated and his defensive game should look a lot like fellow defenseman Zdeno Chara. Chara is getting older so to keep him fresher for the playoffs Bruins management may want to limit his minutes through the season which will give Hamilton the opportunity to step into a much bigger role. The only problem with the Norris Trophy now is that offensive defenseman get a lot of votes while not being very good in their own zone like Erik Karlsson who had 74 points but was a minus 15 and was still in the running to be a finalist. So with that in mind Hamilton will need to capitalize on his time on the power play and get as many points as possible if he wants to be in the running. I see Hamilton scoring about 15 goals and adding from 27 to 33 assists for 42-48 points. Now the Norris does go to the best defensive defenseman so Hamilton will need to have a good plus minus. Last season Chara was plus 25 and the winner Keith was plus 22. For Hamilton to overcome some of the more offensively gifted defensemen who will be in the running he will need a plus minus closer to plus 30 which he could do. Unfortunately I don't see Hamilton doing enough to win the Norris just yet but I see him replacing Chara as a finalist for the award this season and see him winning it in the next few years. For this season I see Hamilton finishing in third place for the award behind Keith who will finish second to Shea Weber from the Nashville Predators. With Rinne back healthy and an improved offense Weber will have a much better season and win the Norris Trophy with a plus 24 rating and 20+ goals finishing with 60 points.
The Bruins have a great team and with every great team there are great players. These awards reward the best players on the Bruins for all the hard work that they put in how well they all work together. I look forward to seeing them win these awards next year but the main goal is still the same to win the Stanley Cup. The Bruins have a good shot at being the team to make it out of the Eastern Conference and it will have a lot to do with the play of the three players I mentioned in this article Rask, Bergeron, and Hamilton. Hopefully they will bring the biggest piece of hardware back to Boston once the year is done. As the season draws closer the trade rumors should start kicking into high gear with Krug and Smith still unsigned so we will bring you all the updates on that situation and any other news. Keep checking back for update a on the Bruins and all of your favorite Boston teams.