The Islanders’ season was one of relative team success. Of course, every team wants to win the Stanley Cup but the Islanders improved by 23 points in the standings, made the playoffs for the first time since 2016 and advanced to the second round.
Now, the team will find out what individual accolades, if any, it will receive for the turnaround in its first season under president and general manager Lou Lamoriello and coach Barry Trotz.
The NHL Awards Show is Wednesday night in Las Vegas and goalie Robin Lehner was nominated for the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s top goalie and the Masterton Trophy for perseverance and dedication while Trotz is up for the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year.
Lehner and partner Thomas Greiss will also share the Jennings Trophy given to the goalies who have played at least 25 games for the team that allowed the fewest goals in the regular season.
Lehner is an impending unrestricted free agent after signing a make-good, one-year, $1.5 million deal last summer. This could potentially be his swan song moment with the Islanders.
The free-agent market opens on July 1, but impending UFAs can begin talking with other teams on Sunday.
Lehner went 25-13-5 with a 2.13 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage and started all eight playoff games as the Islanders swept the Penguins in the first round and then were swept by the Hurricanes.
The Stars’ Ben Bishop (27-15-2, 1.98 GAA, .934 save percentage) and the Lightning’s Andrei Vasilevskiy (39-10-4, 2.40 GAA, .925 save percentage) are the two other Vezina nominees.
The award is voted upon by the NHL’s general managers.
Bill Smith, in 1982, is the only Islanders’ goalie to have won the Vezina. Smith and Roland Melanson combined to win the Jennings Trophy in 1983, the only previous Islanders goalies to do so.
Lehner’s off-ice accomplishments in getting his life back in order were as impressive as the statistics he compiled in net.
He detailed on the first day of Islanders’ training camp his battles with substance addiction and mental-health issues and Lehner is expected to be an overwhelming winner of the Masterton Trophy, as voted upon by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.
Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno, who dealt with the health issues of two of his three children, and the Sharks’ Joe Thornton, who has come back from major knee injuries in each of the previous two seasons, are the other Masterton nominees.
Ed Westfall (1977) and Mark Fitzpatrick (1992) are the only Islanders to have won the Masterton.
Trotz won the Jack Adams Award in 2016 with the Capitals. He joined the Islanders after leading the Capitals to the Cup last year and spearheaded his new team’s defensive turnaround as it finished 48-27-7 and in second place in the Metropolitan Division.
The Blues’ Craig Berube, who took over the eventual Cup winners in midseason, and Jon Cooper, who led the Lightning to an NHL record-tying 62 wins, are the other Jack Adams nominees. The award is voted upon by the NHL Broadcasters’ Association.
Hall of Famer Al Arbour (1979) is the only Islanders coach to have won the award.
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