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Isles rank high in hockey writers' midseason awards

Islanders goaltender Robin Lehner against the St. Louis

Islanders goaltender Robin Lehner against the St. Louis Blues at Barclays Center on Jan. 15, 2019. Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

The Islanders’ turnaround season has been recognized by the Professional Hockey Writers Association, which released the results of its midseason awards voting Thursday.

Barry Trotz finished first in balloting for the Jack Adams Award as the top coach, goalie Robin Lehner was first in voting for comeback player of the year and Lou Lamoriello was third in balloting for general manager of the year. All three are in their first season with the organization.

The Islanders (29-15-5), seeking their first playoff berth since 2016, lead the Metropolitan Division by three points over the defending Stanley Cup champion Capitals as they enter their combined All-Star break and bye week. They play next against the NHL-leading Lightning on Feb. 1 at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum.

Trotz guided the Capitals to their first Cup in June and won the Jack Adams with that organization in 2016. Al Arbour, in 1979, is the only Isles coach to receive the Jack Adams, which is voted upon at the end of the season by the NHL Broadcasters Association.

Lehner is 15-7-4 and leads the NHL with a 2.02 goals-against average. He is tied for first with a .931 save percentage.

Last season for the Sabres, he was 14-26-9 with a 3.01 GAA and a .908 save percentage.  But his bigger comeback is personal after he battled alcohol and pill addictions as well as mental-health issues in Buffalo.

Lehner is a likely candidate for the Bill Masterton Trophy, which recognizes perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to ice hockey and is voted upon by the PHWA.

Lamoriello, who spent the previous three seasons as the Maple Leafs’ GM and won three Cups during his lengthy tenure with the Devils, hired Trotz, signed Lehner to a one-year, $1.5-million deal, signed third-line stalwarts Valtteri Filppula and Leo Komarov as free agents and reacquired fourth-line left wing Matt Martin from the Maple Leafs.

The Flames’ Brad Treliving was first in the GM balloting and the Sharks’ Doug Wilson was second. A panel consisting of the league’s GMs, plus a limited number of executives and media members, will vote on the postseason GM honor.

More than 125 members from all of the PHWA’s 31 chapters participated in the midseason balloting, which selected the Lightning’s Nikita Kucherov for the Hart Trophy (MVP), the Flames’ Mark Giordano for the Norris Trophy (top defenseman) and the Canucks’ Elias Pettersson for the Calder Trophy (top rookie).

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