It was a disappointing postseason for the Tampa Bay Lightning, but a couple of players took home some trophies at the NHL Awards on Wednesday. Nikita Kucherov won the Hart Trophy for MVP, and the Ted Lindsay Award for best player as voted by his peers. The Russian right winger also won the Art Ross Trophy for the league’s top scorer. His teammate, Andrei Vasilevskiy, won the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s top goalie.
It was bittersweet for Kucherov, who thought he would be holding the Stanley Cup this year. The team was the 9/5 favorite, but was knocked out of the first round of the playoffs by the Columbus Blue Jackets.
“It’s a huge night for me and my family,” Kucherov told reporters on Wednesday night. “But the main thing is Stanley Cup. We want to make sure we work harder than we thought we did [this past season]. All these individual [awards], it’s obviously nice, but the main thing is Stanley Cup for me.”
The team is once the favorite to win next year. They are listed at 6/1.
It is something the 26-year-old said was unthinkable when he came from Russia to play in the NHL.
“When I came [to the U.S.], the main thing was just try and make the team,” Kucherov said. “Now all my thoughts are just to win the Cup, and bring the Cup back to Tampa, because people deserve that. We’ve been playing good hockey, and I’m sure if we keep the team [together], we can bounce back.”
Other winners on Wednesday night were Calgary’s Mark Giordano won the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenseman, and Ryan O’Reilly added his first Selke Trophy as the NHL’s top defensive forward. The Jack Adams award for best coach went to New York Islanders’ Barry Trotz.
End of Perry in Anaheim
Corey Perry, who won Anaheim’s only Hart Trophy for MVP, saw his contract bought out by the team on Wednesday. The 14-year-player had two years remaining, but the organization decided to cut ties with him.
General manager Bob Murray said it was, “one of the most difficult decisions I’ve had to make in my 44 years in the NHL.”
The 34-year-old had seen his production decline in recent years, and this year missed five months with a knee injury.
Thornton Wants Another Year
Another forward who has been with a team for a long time might fare better. Joe Thornton of the San Jose Sharks wants to play another year, and the team might actually agree to a 22nd season for the soon-to-be 40-year-old.
Sharks general manager Doug Wilson told reporters on Monday, “There will always be a place for Joe Thornton in this organization, on or off the ice.”
Thornton joked with reporters saying he was looking at playing another 10 years.
“I got nothing else going on,” Thornton said, laughing.
Coyotes Get New Owner
Alex Meruelo was approved as the new majority owner of the Arizona Coyotes during the NHL’s Board of Governors meeting on Wednesday. While NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said there was no problem with the SLS Vegas owner, he did say that he believes a new arena is needed.
”I think this is an extraordinarily positive step for the Coyotes and their fans in Arizona,” Bettman said. “We also understand the importance of a new arena because Glendale is not viable long term.”