Matt Rothman The Hockey Writers
Last Islander to Win Each NHL Award
The New York Islanders had one of the best dynasties in all of sports in the 1980s. They won four Stanley Cups and won 19 straight playoff series with some of NHL’s best players. Since then, New York went through some rough seasons, but are back contending for a Stanley Cup. With the 2019-20 regular season over and the Islanders’ players and coaches not being named a finalist for any of the NHL awards, we look back at the last player to win each of the major awards.
Hart Trophy and Art Ross Trophy: Bryan Trottier
Despite all the incredible seasons of 50-plus goals from Mike Bossy, the Islanders have had only one Hart Trophy Winner and Art Ross Trophy-winner in Bryan Trottier. The Hall-of-Fame center won the award during the 1978-79 season when he scored a career-high 47 goals and 87 assists for 134 points. He was the anchor of the trio grande line that established itself as one of the best in league with Mike Bossy and Clark Gillies.
Trottier was only 22 years old when he won the award and had his best game of the season come against the New York Rangers. He set an NHL record for most points in a period by scoring four goals and had two assists in an Islanders’ 9-4 win. Unfortunately, the Rangers would get the better of the Islanders in the playoffs. Still, it was the final playoff series loss before their incredible four Stanley Cups and 19 straight playoff series wins.
Related: Best Islanders From Around the World
Named as one of the top-100 players of all time, Trottier finished his career with 1,425 points, 1,123 of those with the Islanders. Before winning the league MVP, he had won the Calder Trophy in his inaugural season in 1975-76 and was selected to nine All-Star games.
Conn Smythe Award: Billy Smith (1982-83)
From 1980-83, the Islanders had four different players win a Conn Smythe Award. The last player to win that award was Hall-Of-Fame goaltender Billy Smith during the 1982-83 season. Facing Wayne Gretzky and the Edmonton Oilers, Smith led the Islanders to an incredible four-game sweep for their fourth straight Stanley Cup.
After only playing in 41 regular season games, Smith was tremendous in the playoffs and capped it off with four wins in the Final. After a 35-save shutout in Game 1 on the road, he allowed 3 goals in a 6-3 win. He would follow that up by stopping 33 of 34 shots in Game 3 and 24 of 26 in Game 4 to win the award. His final line for the Stanley Cup featured him having a .953 save percentage (SV%) while allowing only six goals in four games.
Norris Trophy: Denis Potvin
The Islanders have only won three Norris Trophies in their history, and they were all won by Denis Potvin. The defenseman won the award during 1975-76, 1977-78, and most recently in 1978-79. That year featured Potvin scoring 31 goals and reaching the 100-point mark for the first and only time in his career.
Potvin became the first defenseman since Bobby Orr to score 30 goals in a season. He also was a plus-71. Potvin would eventually finish his career with 310 goals and 1,052 points.
Vezina Trophy: Billy Smith
Before Smith won a Conn Smythe Trophy with the Islanders, he won a Vezina Trophy in 1981-1982. He tied a franchise record of 32 wins in a season with Chris Osgood before Jaroslav Halak won 38 games in the 2014-15 season. What made his season so incredible was that he only played in 46 games in the regular season and went 32-9-4. Smith piled up a .898 SV% and a 2.97 goals against average (GAA).
Calder Trophy: Mat Barzal
In his rookie season, Mat Barzal put on one of the most incredible rookie seasons in NHL history. After playing in just two games in the 2016-17 season, he was eligible to be nominated the following season, scoring 22 goals and a career-high 85 points.
It started quickly for Barzal, who scored his first NHL goal against Henrik Lundqvist of the Rangers and had three five-point performances. Equally, as impressive, Barzal had 20 multi-point games, scored his first career overtime goal, and registered his first NHL hat trick that season. He beat out both Brock Boeser, who received two first-place votes, and Clayton Keller, who got one.
Jenning’s Trophy: Robin Lehner and Thomas Greiss
The duo of Robin Lehner and Thomas Greiss won the Jenning’s Trophy for the 2018-19 season for allowing the fewest goals in the league. Lehner, who signed with the Islanders earlier that season, won 25 games and had a career low of 2.13 GAA and helped the Islanders sweep the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round go the playoffs. He also won the Bill Masterton Award after his battle with bipolar disorder and substance abuse that he dealt with during his time with the Buffalo Sabres.
For Greiss, he had a. 2.28 GAA and combined with Lehner to let in only 191 goals after the Islanders finished the 2017-18 season as the team who allowed the most goals in the NHL. It is also the second time the Islanders have won the Jennings Award as Smith and Roland Melanson won the award in 1982-83
Jack Adams Award: Barry Trotz
It had been 40 years since Al Arbour won the Jack Adams Award during the 1978-79 season, but Trotz won in his first season with the Islanders in 2018-19. After winning a Stanley Cup with the Washington Capitals the year prior, Trotz resigned from his position to take over in New York.
During that season, the Islanders finished with a record of 48-27-7 for 103 points, which was 23 points higher than the season before. Trotz brought in his former assistant coach Lane Lambert as well as director of goaltending Mitch Korn. It was the Islanders’ defensive style of play that allowed them to make the second round of the playoffs.
Lady Byng: Pierre Turgeon
In the same season that Pierre Turgeon took one of the dirtiest hits in NHL history from Dale Hunter in the playoffs, the Islanders’ superstar won the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy in the 1992-93 season.
Turgeon played in 1,294 NHL games in his career and took 452 penalty minutes. The season he won the award, he would only take 26 penalty minutes and scored 58 goals and had 132 points.
King Clancy Award: Doug Weight
Doug Weight only played in 18 games during the 2010-11 season, but he continued to lead the team as a captain off the ice and won the King Clancy Memorial Trophy. It started the year before when he allowed John Tavares to live with him. While Weight was injured the next season, he took on a role as almost another assistant coach. He would ultimately become the assistant coach the following season before named the head coach after Jack Capuano was let go in 2017.
With a strong core of Barzal, Brock Nelson, and Ryan Pulock, any of these players can win an award in the future. While the Islanders have had many players with individual successes over the past decade, they have had much more team success and have found themselves back in the playoffs.
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