The Hockey News named Vancouver Canucks right winger Markus Naslund its 2002-03 Player of the Year. Naslund finished the season with 48 goals and 104-points - both career highs - and was instrumental in the best regular season in Canucks history. He teamed with Brendan Morrison and Todd Bertuzzi to comprise one of the league's most potent offensive lines.
"Anytime you get recognized for an honour like this it is exciting," said Naslund, who finished second overall in league scoring to Colorado's Peter Forsberg. "I could not have accomplished some of the things I did this season without my teammates. This recognition is reflective of the growth and improvement of the Canucks organization over the last couple of years."
Naslund is the first Canuck honored by THN as the league's top player.
Other THN award winners are:
Minor pro Coach of the Year: Todd McLellan, Houston (AHL). McLellan's sophomore season as Aeros coach could not have been more successful, as he helmed the team to an upset win over Hamilton for Houston's first American League championship. Personnel changes forced McLellan to successfully transform his Houston team from run-and-gun early in the season to dump and chase.
NHL MVP: Peter Forsberg, Colorado. Returning from a one-year layoff, Forsberg won the Art Ross and Hart Trophies and led the Avalanche to its ninth straight division title.
Defenseman of the Year: Nicklas Lidstrom, Detroit. The three-time Norris Trophy winner finished the season with 44 assists and 62 points, the eighth consecutive season the native of Vasteras, Sweden, has had 50 or more points.
Coach of the Year: Jacques Lemaire, Minnesota. Lemaire led the Wild to the team's first Western Conference final appearance, exceeding expectations for a franchise in just its third year of existence. "It is an honor to be named coach of the year," Lemaire said. "We had a great season and I am very proud of the way our team played. The players deserve all the credit for our accomplishments this season." (Note: as with THN's Executive of the Year Award, consideration is given to each candidate's regular and post-season performance.)
Goaltender of the Year: Martin Brodeur, New Jersey. Brodeur backstopped the Devils to their third Stanley Cup victory in nine seasons and claimed the first Vezina Trophy of his career. He also set a record for post-season shutouts with seven.
Rookie of the Year: Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit. The 22-year-old left winger led all rookies in scoring this season, finishing the year with 22 goals and 44 points.
Executive of the Year: Bryan Murray, Anaheim. In his first season as Ducks GM, Murray assembled a mix of veteran savvy and youthful exuberance, hired a rookie coach in Mike Babcock, and made key trade deadline acquisitions, including Steve Thomas and Rob Niedermayer. The result was the first Stanley Cup final appearance in franchise history.
Minor pro Player of the Year: Mike Komisarek, Hamilton (AHL). The Montreal Canadiens prospect played with tremendous confidence and poise as a two-way defenseman with Calder Cup runner-up Hamilton. He was among American League plus/minus leaders this season.
Major junior Player of the Year: Corey Locke, Ottawa (OHL). Locke had 63 goals and 151 points for the 67s to win the Ontario League scoring championship. He was a fourth round pick (113th overall) by the Montreal Canadiens in the 2003 entry draft.