2009_nhl_awardsIt has been almost two months since the NHL announced its finalists for the major postseason awards that will be announced Thursday night in Las Vegas at the NHL Awards ceremony.

So as I make my way via plane from Manchester, N.H., to Vegas, here’s a refresher list of the three finalists in each category with my picks explained. Feel free to post your own picks and we’ll see who gets the most correct after the presentations.

Hart Trophy
Alexander Ovechkin (Washington)
Evgeni Malkin (Pittsburgh)
Pavel Datsyuk (Detroit)
My pick: Ovechkin gets the nod hands down because of what he does with his scoring and his hitting. I didn’t even have Datsyuk in my top five because I can’t ever pick one player out of Detroit’s stable of stars that stands out over the others.

Norris Trophy
Zdeno Chara (Boston)
Mike Green (Washington)
Nicklas Lidstrom (Detroit)
My pick: Chara flat-out had the best all-around season of any blueliner in the NHL and that’s why he should wrestle this trophy away from Lidstrom. Hopefully, voters weren’t mesmerized by Green’s offensive numbers.

Vezina Trophy
Tim Thomas (Boston)
Niklas Backstrom (Minnesota)
Steve Mason (Columbus)
My pick: The PHWA doesn’t get a vote for this, but I’d definitely go with Thomas — who had the best season start to finish and led the league in the two major goaltending statistical categories.

Calder Trophy
Steve Mason (Columbus)
Bobby Ryan (Anaheim)
Kris Versteeg (Chicago)
My pick: Mason had the biggest impact on his franchise’s fortunes, and his shutout numbers were just amazing.

Jack Adams Trophy
Claude Julien (Boston)
Todd McLellan (San Jose)
Andy Murray (St. Louis)
My pick: Another award not voted on by the PHWA, but I definitely believe Julien deserves this based on the ridiculous way the Bruins surpassed all expectations this season. I thought the competition would’ve been tighter had Ken Hitchcock of Columbus or Brent Sutter of New Jersey reached the final three.

Selke Trophy
Pavel Datsyuk (Detroit)
Ryan Kesler (Vancouver)
Mike Richards (Philadelphia)
My pick: Until Datsyuk is over the hill or incapacitated, this award is his. No one has a better knack for shutting down opponents and stealing pucks.

Lady Byng Trophy
Pavel Datsyuk (Detroit)
Martin St. Louis (Tampa Bay)
Zach Parise (New Jersey)
My pick: I think it’s time St. Louis gets acknowledged for his gentlemanly efforts.

The next time you hear from me, I’ll be blogging from Vegas. There is a reception for presenters today and then I’ll be blogging before, during and after the awards show Thursday.