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Nashville Predators Half-Season Awards Watch

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The season is officially halfway over, so which Predators should be up for hardware?

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Hockey is a team game, which means any type of individual accolades are pointless and dumb. Except when it's your team's guy taking home the trophy. Halfway through the regular season, there are still plenty of Nashville Predators players and staff that have a legitimate shot at an acceptance speech in Las Vegas. More than any other time in Nashville's history... combined, even. (We're not the only ones who think so.) So what is the likelihood that it actually happens?

We'll measure the Chance of Nomination and the Chance of Winning on a scale of five Frank the Turtle emojis.

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Now, these are very conservative estimates because, even though we think everyone on this list could (and should) win, we don't want to anger the Hockey Gods. Hubris is a terrible thing. Keep that in mind before you take us to task for not giving someone enough turtles.

General Manager of the Year - David Poile

Poile came under extreme scrutiny in the summer of 2013 for the moves that he made. The Preds already had a roster full of role players, and he went out and signed four more. It was so bad, that plenty of people (including ones on this very blog) were questioning whether he should even be brought back for another year.

Ultimately, he survived while Trotz did not, and so far the results have been excellent. After brining in Peter Laviolette to usher in a new era of offense, Poile immediately shipped out a fan-favorite in Patric Hornqvist to acquire pure goal scorer James Neal. Mike Ribeiro came begging for a job, but instead of shunning him like many other places seemed to do, he gave him a chance on a bargain deal. It's paid off in spades. And don't forget getting Ryan Ellis signed to a fantastic contract right before the season started.

There are numerous reasons the Predators are a much better team this season, but one of them is the personnel. Without bringing in Ribeiro or Neal, where would the Predators be? Filip Forsberg has shown incredible growth as a player so far, though his acquisition doesn't count for this year. David Poile, for all the mistakes he's made in the past, deserves credit for his drafting and construction of the Preds' current roster.

Other Candidates

Steve Yzerman (Tampa); Garth Snow (New York Islanders)

Chance of Nomination

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Chance of Winning

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Yzerman was forced into trading away the former face of the franchise, and a beloved icon to the fans. Not only did he turn it into two first round draft picks (despite being handcuffed to only the Rangers) he also brought half of New York's roster to the Lightning the following free-agency period. Tampa Bay is a team with few weaknesses, and it's showed so far this season.

Garth Snow brought in a goaltender and sneakily waited in the bushes until he could pounce on two top defenseman. That shored up the biggest question marks the Islanders had, and they've been rolling all season. Because of both of these accomplishments, and the many other acheivments among the Predators organization, David Poile is going to be overshadowed this time around.

Jack Adams Award: Coach of the Year - Peter Laviolette

It's one thing to be tasked with completely changing the culture of a hockey team that has had it's own specific identity for 16 years. It's another to completely kick ass at replacing that identity with another one, and making the team worlds better in just a few months.

That's what Peter Laviolette has done. It's not just about his players buying in or having a healthy Pekka Rinne. The Preds went from a middling possession team to one of the best, and almost every player has seen positive improvements in their stats, both fancy and casual.

Other Candidates

Paul Maurice (Winnipeg); Gerard Gallant (Florida); Jack Capuano (New York Islanders); Willie Desjardins (Vancouver)

Chance of Nomination

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Chance of Winning

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The other coaches listed have all done a fantastic job pulling the most out of their team. Many of these teams weren't expected to do much this year. In a sense, the Jack Adams is unofficially about which coach made his team surpass expectations the most.

This could end up being a really tight race, and Gallant and Maurice both have good cases for winning the Adams. But if Laviolette somehow steers his team to a Central division banner, he should have it more than locked up.

Vezina Trophy: Goaltender of the Year - Pekka Rinne

What can we say? Pekka Rinne has come back from injury with a vengeance, and is smothering pucks so frequently it should be categorized as first degree murder. He may not lead in every single statistical goaltender category, but he makes an appearance in all of them. Rinne also has the highest quality start percentage of any major starter.

Other Candidates

Carey Price (Montreal); Marc-Andre Fleury (Pittsburgh); Roberto Luongo (Florida)

Chance of Nomination

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Chance of Winning

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At this point, barring some catastrophic injury or witch's hex, he is the front runner, and it isn't close. His numbers suggest he is playing a little above his career level, but even if he falls back to Earth in the second half, he is more than capable of playing at an elite level the rest of the way.

Calder Memorial Trophy: Rookie of the Year - Filip Forsberg

What can we say? Few players burst onto the scene to play as well and as consistently as Forsberg has. Not only has he been one of the best players for the Preds, he's been one of the best in the league. The 20-year-old is currently tied for 15th in scoring with Nick Foligno and Jiri Hudler. He's taken the city by storm, and become one of the most valuable players on the roster.

The only thing that might make us nervous is possibly hitting the dreaded "rookie wall." 38 points in 41 games is a hell of an accomplishment already, but scoring 20 or so in the last half could negatively affect Forsberg. It shouldn't, since 60 points (or thereabouts) is still impressive for a rookie.

Other Candidates

Aaron Ekblad (Florida); Johnny Gaudreau (Calgary)

Chance of Nomination

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Chance of Winning

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It's a three horse race in the Calder, though Ekblad is garnering some major buzz with what he's doing in Florida. If Forsberg maintains (or at least keeps close to) his current pace, he should take the award home. However, the writers are seeing what Ekblad is doing with the assignments he's given and putting up points at his age on a bubble team, and are gushing. They should, because it's extremely rare for a rookie to do that and the kid is freaking good. Gaudreau still has a slim shot at surprising, but this award likely comes down to who between Ekblad and Forsberg has the better final half.

James Norris Memorial Trophy: Greatest All-Around Defenseman - Shea Weber

With many other publications coming out with their picks for the Norris, it's producing a lot of chatter on whether Shea Weber is really all he's cracked up to be. You'll be hard pressed to find anyone who thinks he's a bad player, but the underlying numbers don't match with what he's saying.

Travis Yost of TSN writes:

It’s certainly one of those topics where I think more in-depth examination is warranted, especially as it pertains to Weber – the player that we thought was carrying Ryan Suter around for all of those years in Nashville. The numbers say he’s doing a decent job in very challenging 5-on-5 minutes, but they also say he’s underperforming a bit relative to other Norris Trophy hopefuls, and maybe has been for some length of time.

But so what, you might say? So what if the numbers don't match up, he is still one of the most pertinent players on a Nashville team, who has had to be the offensive leader at times, as well as face the toughest assignments.

Sam Page of Sports Illustrated thoroughly investigated Weber's stats with his play on ice in a recent analysis. Page dissects Weber's play with Suter and with Josi, and is a must-read for Predators fans. I won't spoil his hard work, because it deserves your attention, but he confirms what we already know: Weber is a huge part of this team, and anyone would take him in a heartbeat.

Other Candidates

Mark Giordano (Calgary); Drew Doughty (Los Angeles); Duncan Keith (Chicago)

Chance of Nomination

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Chance of Winning

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Honestly, the Norris is always the hardest one to figure out, especially when the nominees aren't even set in stone. Preds fans are lucky enough to see him every night, and get a first hand look at how much he is leaned on when the team needs to prevent a goal. That should be worth so much in the game of hockey, even when the analytics show he's a little overrated.

Hart Memorial Trophy: Most Valuable Player - Pekka Rinne

There have been rumblings about this from us, other Nashville writers, and now the movement is starting to pick up some steam. Let's take a firm stand right now: Pekka Rinne is a Hart Trophy candidate, and should be recognized as such.

The language of the trophy is always misleading. Officially, the award is given to the "player judged most valuable to his team." You'd be hard pressed to find a player more responsible for his team's success than Rinne. Take him out of the equation and what are you left with? Forsberg may still be lighting the world on fire, and it's possible Laviolette might still have a competitive team, but replacing Rinne with an average goaltender puts the Predators much farther down in the standings than they are.

Since the award's inception in 1924, only six goalies have taken it home, though it's been awarded seven times. Dominik Hasek won it twice in '97 and '98. Still, it's been 13 years since Jose Theodore took it home as a member of the Montreal Canadiens, which only further stresses how incredible of an achievement it would be. Both for Rinne, and the Predators.

Other Candidates: Jacob Voracek (Philadelphia); Tyler Seguin (Dallas); Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim); Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh)

Chance of Nomination

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Chance of Winning

Unfortunately, the odds are stacked against Rinne so don't count on this happening. Generally the league (and writers) look at the overall picture. Who is the league's most valuable player. There are plenty of high-scoring forwards who are able to hog the attention away from Nashville's humble Fin. We'll keep banging the "Rinne for Hart" drum from now until the end of the season, especially if he maintains his play.

So not a bad list at the end of the day. Regardless of how many trophies (if any) reside in Nashville next season, it's brand new territory for so many Predators to be considered for the accolades. Frankly, just one win in a major category should be considered a success. But from what we've seen so far, it may be more than one.

What say you? Who (if anyone) is a lock and who are the ones on the cusp?