IceNationUK Alternative 2013/14 NHL Season Awards!
Every NHL fan knows the awards the league hands out every year to its top players – the Hart, the Vezina, the Norris etc. – but we here at Ice Nation UK thought it was time to dole out our own awards. You’ll see some familiar faces, some obvious choices, but also others who will receive recognition for their efforts who don’t usually get such acknowledgement from the joyous NHL establishment.
Not content to celebrate both the best and the undervalued, we took it to another level – recognising the players and management moves that generated a storm of discussion, disagreement and in many cases downright laughter (here’s looking at you, Dave Nonis).
In other words, this is a list of the 2013/14 season’s “good, bad and ugly”. Some of it is tongue-in-cheek, a lot of it you’ll disagree with, and please don’t hesitate to let us know your opinion!
Top Offensive Centre – The Wayne Gretzky Award
The nominees are…
- Sidney Crosby (PIT) – led the league in scoring for the first time since 2007, winning the Hart Trophy and Ted Lindsay Award along the way.
Michael Devine: “I suppose I should pick Sid the Kid, but I’ll go for Tavares. He’s a fantastic player and deseves better than the Isles.”
Micki Holley: “Crosby is my pick. Before all the haters start voicing their disapproval, Crosby, despite his injuries and somewhat baby-ish demeanor is still a darn good center who can create offense. He is not my favorite player, but I do respect what he can accomplish on the ice.”
Brad Marsh: “It pains me to say this, but Crosby has had a fantastic season and if not for him (and Malkin) the Penguins would have had a much worse season than they did.”
Ger Devine: “Hard not to pick the guy who scored 104 points in 80 games this year.”
Chris Hext: “Crosby may be divisive due to certain perceived personality traits, but there is simply no denying the incredible offensive force that he is, and he proved it once again this season.”
Other votes: Melissa.
- Ryan Getzlaf (ANA) – finished second in NHL scoring while providing his usual outstanding play in all areas of the game.
Sam Skelding: “May be a bit of a homer! But he really brought his outstanding skill-set to a whole other level this year, not to mention leading when the Ducks really needed leadership. Plus, added lots of goals to his usual mountain of assists.”
- Claude Giroux (PHI) – had an awful start to the year but from December onwards scored at a 100-point pace when extrapolated over 82 games.
- Evgeni Malkin (PIT) – the Pens’ other star centre had the second best points-per-game pace (1.20) in the league, behind only Crosby.
- John Tavares (NYI) – had the 4th highest points-per-game in the NHL on a terrible team, and was on the way to an outstanding personal season before injury struck.
THE WINNER IS: SIDNEY CROSBY
Top Offensive Winger – The Bobby Hull Trophy
The nominees are…
- Taylor Hall (EDM) – the Oilers’ best pure offensive player had his second straight season scoring well over a point-per-game.
Chris: “Hall gets little recognition league-wide thanks to having played on such an awful team to date, but he is simply a sight to behold on offense. Is by no means a perfect player, but there are few others who can strike so much fear into opposing defenders when he comes barreling down the wing.”
- Phil Kessel (TOR) – enjoyed his 5th 30+ goal season and second 80 point season, a model of scoring consistency.
Sam: “Incredible season, gets better each year and that’s saying something considering he’s with the horrendous Leafs. Felt like there was a maturity to his game this year too, as evidenced in Sochi.”
Micki: “Kessel comes to my mind when someone asks about a good offensive winger. He had a pretty solid season.”
- Alex Ovechkin (WSH) – this season’s only 50+ goal scorer brought home his 4th Rocket Richard Trophy.
Brad: “It seems to be the same story with Washington. Either Ovi does his stuff and the team let him down, or the team perform and he is off. This year he carried the team for much of the season.”
Ger: “51 goals says this award belongs to Ovie.”
- Corey Perry (ANA) – former Hart and Richard Trophy winner rebounded from a mediocre season to finish 5th in league scoring, and the second best goal total of his career (43).
Other votes: Melissa
- Henrik Zetterberg (DET) – a controversial inclusion for some thanks to his partial season, Zetterberg was nonetheless outstanding when in the Wings’ lineup, scoring 1.07 points/game.
THE WINNERS ARE: ALEX OVECHKIN and PHIL KESSEL
Top Two-Way Forward – The Sergei Federov Trophy
The nominees are…
- Patrice Bergeron (BOS) – finished with a +38 rating, 62 points and a 60.8% Fenwick-For, cementing himself as a truly dominant possession player who plays in all situations.
Sam: “Pretty self-explanatory, just watch him play. Every team would take him in a heartbeat.”
Ger: “Bergeron just beats out Anze Kopitar for this one. He was a phenomenal possession player this season and scored 62 points.”
- Pavel Datsyuk (DET) – scored well and maintained excellent possession numbers, his reputation for two-way brilliance still stands.
- Marian Hossa (CHI) – his eighth season of scoring 30 or more goals, a +28 rating, plays in all situations and is outstanding at driving play.
Michael: “Hard to pick a winner out of this bunch of astonishing players. Bergy probably deserves it but I’ll pick Hossa just because the Selke voters refuse to nominate wingers.”
- Anze Kopitar (LAK) – has been a possession-monster since forever, had his 5th season of at least 70 points while playing in all situations and led his team to the Cup for the second time.
Micki: “Kopitar is a great two-way forward. His leadership abilities have made him an asset to the Kings. He brings confidence and electricity to the ice when he is on his game.”
Brad: “I want to say Pavel Datsyuk, but Kopitar has led the Kings from the front all season and time and time again has done his job at both end of the ice.”
Chris: “If I’m starting my team and need a center, this is the guy I keep coming back to. His scoring isn’t necessarily elite – though it may be if he played on a more free-flowing team – but his all-round game for me is second-to-none.”
- Jonathan Toews (CHI) – much like his team-mate Hossa, Toews can score, play the PK, and drives play in the right direction nearly 60% of the time.
THE WINNER IS: ANZE KOPITAR
Top Defensive Forward – The Bob Gainey Award
The nominees are…
- Kyle Brodziak (MIN) – continues to play the shutdown role for Minnesota, taking on tough competition with sub-50% o-zone starts and handling the role well.
- Boyd Gordon (EDM) – had the most extreme zone-starts of this group, with 80% of his shifts starting in the d-zone while playing tough competition. Gordon did his job and then some.
Ger: “I’m gonna give this to Boyd Gordon due to excellent possession numbers despite extremely tough usage. Plekanec and Winnik had far better EV production, but also played for better teams. Gordon performed very well in a thankless role and was also a beast at the face-off dot.”
- Tomas Plekanec (MTL) – the best scorer on this list by a fair margin, Plekanec receives heavy minutes in all situations and played the toughest competition of any on this list.
Micki: “Plekanec is a solid forward who is not a superstar but knows what needs to be done and is not afraid to get in the mix. He works hard to keep improving his game and makes the hard plays look easy.”
Brad: “Plekanec this season has shown what having a solid defensive forward can do for a team. He has put in some cracking shifts game after game.”
Chris: “I was very torn between Gordon and Plekanec here, but give the edge to the Habs’ centerman. He is used as a shutdown guy, and still manages to put up decent boxcars. What’s not to like?”
- Jarret Stoll (LAK) – doesn’t score like he used to, but plays in all situations while playing a gritty game and enjoying excellent possession numbers.
Michael: “Looking at the nominees, I’m just going to go ahead and read “Defensive” as “Bad”. So I’ll vote for Jarret Stoll, because Jarrett Stoll sucks.”
Sam: “Wouldn’t have won the cup without him. Much maligned, terrible in nearly every traditional hockey category including +- and scoring, but if you look at the advanced statistics, he played more than Jeff Carter, got the toughest zone-starts against the best opposition, basically played the toughest minutes (lots of them) and his face-off wins and defensive decision-making was vital to their success.”
- Daniel Winnik (ANA) – the only winger on this list, Winnik has been a darling of advanced stats for a while. Thrives on taking on the tough minutes, and can contribute offensively at times.
THE WINNER IS: TOMAS PLEKANEC
Top Offensive Defender – The Paul Coffey Award
The nominees are…
- Dustin Byfuglien (WPG) – a controversial one due to his shifting position, but Byfuglien is fundamentally a defender. Fired home 20 goals for the second time in his career, along with 36 assists.
- Erik Karlsson (OTT) – rebounding spectacularly from an injury-filled season, Karlsson led all defenders in points (74) and scored 20 goals for the first time.
Micki: “Karlsson is a player that you just have to watch play. His puck handling skills are top-notch and he moves up into the play and becomes a dangerous scorer.”
Ger: “Karlsson lead all defencemen in points and had the highest 5v5 P/60 of any of the nominees.”
Chris: “I was a little opposed to Karlsson winning the Norris 2 years back given his somewhat one-dimensional play. He has actually improved somewhat defensively since then, and his offense is better than ever. Stunning talent.”
Other votes: Melissa
- PK Subban (MTL) – the 2013 Norris Trophy winner set a personal best in points (53), the slick skating Hab continues to prove he’s one of the best at what he does.
Michael: “PK all the way. Not just for another great season, but also because, as usual, he’s managed to upset racists, boring old farts and Boston fans (all wrapped up in one person, in the case of Don Cherry).”
Brad: “What can you say? PK is a beast, plain and simple.”
- James Wisniewski (CBJ) – not one of the more famous names, and a somewhat divisive name, there is no denying his offensive flair. Hit the 50-point plateau for the second time in his career.
- Keith Yandle (PHX) – the Coyotes continue to rely on their blueline for offense, and Yandle is certainly among the league’s top offensive blueliners hitting 50+ points for the second time.
THE WINNER IS: ERIK KARLSSON
Top Two-Way Defender – The Bobby Orr Trophy
The nominees are…
- Zdeno Chara (BOS) – the perennial Norris candidate continues to be a rock for Boston even this late in his career, putting up good offensive numbers and maintaining some dominant defensive play.
Brad: “Solid in front of his goal tender all season and a constant threat when Boston move forward.”
- Victor Hedman (TBL) – young Hedman finally breaks through into the league’s elite, posting top possession numbers and elite scoring numbers.
Ger: “Hedman was the most effective possession player out of these 5 and lead all defencemen in 5v5 P/60 this season.”
Chris: “There are so many good defenders out there this was a tough choice. Chara and Weber weren’t as dominant as past years, though still great. Keith was his usual fantastic self particularly in scoring, but in terms of all-round two-way play, it came down to Hedman and Pietrangelo. For me Hedman was outstanding this year, proving his value as an elite NHLer.”
- Duncan Keith (CHI) – the 2010 Norris winner did it again this year, putting up great possession numbers and reaching 60 points for the second time.
Michael: “That’s Blackhawks Legend Bobby Orr to you, buddy. Looking at the previous list, I notice that Wiz had more points than Tyler Bozak last year. That’s hilarious. Oh, yeah, let’s just give this one to Duncan Keith and move on.”
- Alex Pietrangelo (STL) – often inexplicably forgotten when talking about the league’s best, Pietrangelo matched his career high in points (51) and continues to be a dominant defensive force.
Micki: “Pietrangelo is truly electrifying to watch. He is all over the ice making plays happen for his team and taking away scoring chances for the opponents.”
- Shea Weber (NSH) – one of the most intimidating blueliners in the NHL, Weber matched his career high in goals (23) and hit a new career high in points (56), while taking on tough competition.
THE WINNER IS: VICTOR HEDMAN
Top Defensive Defender – The Tim Horton Trophy
The nominees are…
- Johnny Boychuk (BOS) – Boston’s veteran shutdown defender plays heavy minutes at 5v5 and on the penalty kill, and can score a little too, all while playing above average competition and maintaining strong possession numbers.
Micki: “Boychuk is an all around gritty player who gets in there and is not afraid to take one for the team. He is a gritty player who gives his all every time he is on the ice.”
- Drew Doughty (LAK) – still just 24, Doughty is recognized as one of the league’s finest defenders, combining unbelievable skill with off-the-charts intelligence. Played monster minutes in all situations, and dominated the possession stats as per usual.
Michael: “Now, I’d have put Drew Doughty in the previous category but he deserves something so let’s give him this. Special mention to Niklas Hjalmarsson who had a stellar season.”
Brad: “Struggled with this one, but Doughty is starting to prove he is worth that contract. Just pipping out the others.”
Chris: “There shouldn’t be any question with this one. Many will rightly argue why Doughty isn’t included with the Two-Way nominees, but the simple reason is that his boxcars didn’t quite match up to the other candidates for that award, so he finds himself here. Vlasic was fantastic this year, but Doughty is just on another level, it’s truly unbelievable he hasn’t won a Norris yet. Absolutely dominates when he’s on the ice.”
- Dan Hamhuis (VAN) – without a shadow of a doubt one of the most underrated and overlooked defenders in the league, Hamhuis has quietly gone about his business and once again put up a fine season. Played big minutes in all situations, dominated the possession game while taking on incredibly tough minutes, and still put up points.
- Willie Mitchell (LAK) – saw the most difficult zonestarts of any Kings defender and played huge minutes on the penalty kill, while still scoring 23 points and putting up positive possession numbers. Mitchell may be 37, but he can still play.
- Marc-Edouard Vlasic (SJS) – like Hamhuis, Vlasic is often criminally underrated. Played some of the toughest minutes of any Sharks defender and still dominated possession, put up points and was a key component on the penalty kill.
Sam: “Marc Vlasic for me here, really impressed with his season. Really improved his judgement from the blue line/pinching…etc, a bit concerned by how he feel apart during the Kings’ but I think it was just experience. Going to get even better which is a nice thought for the Sharks.”
Ger: “Vlasic had a phenomenal year, exceling at keeping the puck away from his own team’s goal while he was on the ice, which is exactly what you want from a good defenceman.”
THE WINNER IS: DREW DOUGHTY
Best Goalie – The Patrick Roy Award
The nominees are…
- Ben Bishop (TBL) – the 6’7″ behemoth flourished in his first season of more than 13 NHL games (he played 63), winning 37 games while posting a 2.23 GAA, a .924 SV% and 5 shutouts. He also had an excellent .932 SV% at even strength.
Brad: “The reason Tampa made the playoffs, the reason they went out.”
- Sergei Bobrovsky (CBJ) – the 2013 Vezina winner continued his good form, winning 32 of 58 games, posting 5 shutouts and finishing with a .923 SV% and 2.38 GAA, along with an even-strength SV% of .931.
- Carey Price (MTL) – the Montreal starter had a great season overall, winning 34 of 59 games, while putting up excellent stats: 6 shutouts, .927 SV% and 2.32 GAA. His .934 EV SV% was the second best in the league (min. 40 games), behind only eventual Vezina winner Rask.
Michael: “Patrick Roy and Semyon Varlamov can both go to hell. I’ma vote for Drinky Price, another excellent year and the difference between MTL making the SCF or not (not, as it happened).”
Sam: “May be an unpopular choice but Carey Price, despite being awful before Sochi, took on an unreal level afterwards, no doubt boosted by the winning confidence from Canada. Montreal would have been finalists without his injury.”
- Tuukka Rask (BOS) – Boston continues their recent tradition of outstanding goaltending, with Rask winning 36 of 58 games, sporting a .930 SV% and 2.04 GAA along with 7 shutouts. His even strength SV% of .941 led the league (min. 40 games), and cemented him as a truly elite goaltender.
Micki: “Rask has been solid for Boston and will continue to grow, hopefully into the exceptional goalie that he has the potential to be.”
Ger: “Rask’s 94.31 Sv% at 5v5 says it all.”
Chris: “It can only be Rask. Put up exceptional numbers across the board, this isn’t Chris Osgood riding the coat-tails of an elite team, this is a truly elite goalie at work. What is in that Finnish water?!”
- Semyon Varlamov (COL) – a controversial name for various reasons, Varlamov nonetheless enjoyed a terrific season on the ice, and was one of the primary factors in Colorado’s success. Led the league in wins with 41, while posting a .927 SV% and 2.41 GAA, and 2 shutouts. His even strength SV% of .933 was 3rd in the league (min. 40GP).
THE WINNER IS: TUUKKA RASK
Goalie (Possibly) Benefiting Most From His Team – The Grant Fuhr Trophy
The nominees are…
- Marc-Andre Fleury (PIT) – with undoubtedly elite talent, and playing on a team considered to be a contender, AND with a Stanley Cup under his belt, Fleury receives expectations that he should be a top-tier goalie. His below average save percentage (.915) and even strength SV% (.917) prove him to be, well, below average – no matter how many games he wins.
Micki: “Fleury seemed to flounder somewhat this season and many are asking if he has reached his peak. The Penguins’ talent in front of him helped him through some sticky situations.”
Brad: “He has to be the luckiest goaltender in the league, such a solid setup in front of him, often masking his frailties.”
Chris: “I flew back and forth between Fleury and Quick, but in my heart it’s always been Fleury. Quick at least had a decent even strength performance; Fleury has no redeeming features on his medium-term resume. He has great talent, and can play some outstanding hockey at times, but it’s few and far between. If the Pens spent less time worrying about replacing Letang and more about replacing Fleury, they would be in a better position moving forward.”
Other votes: Melissa
- Jaroslav Halak (STL) – Halak played for an incredibly stingy Blues team who allowed both the 3rd lowest shots per game (26.4) and the 3rd lowest goals per game (2.29). Halak is a good goalie, and he played well for Washington after he was traded (in a small sample of games), but like all highly defensive teams there will always be questions about how good the goalie really is.
- Antti Niemi (SJS) – the Sharks goalie was famously deemed “average” when he won a Stanley Cup with Chicago in 2010. He won 39 games this year with a strong Sharks squad, but only managed a paltry .913 SV% (.919 at EV). That’s not an elite number any way you slice it.
- Jonathan Quick (LAK) – still riding the wave of plaudits he earned for his Conn Smythe-winning run in 2012, Quick won 27 of 49 games this season but for the second straight season posted a below average save percentage (.915), though his even strength number (.929) is admittedly solid.
Michael: “Not entirely fair, but I’ll give it to Jon Quick, who was good again this year, but saw the 2nd fewest shots against in the league.”
Sam: “The Kings make everything difficult, entering the zone, getting shots off, finding space, gaining the front of the net, screening, great goalie but enjoys a huge number of easy saves each game.”
Ger: “Quick was, as per usual, pretty ordinary this season and was downright bad in the playoffs and yet will get to ride off into the sunset on a wave of hype as the team he plays for wins their 2nd Stanley Cup in 3 years.”
- Tuukka Rask (BOS) – though he may also be nominated for our “Best Goalie” award, it can’t be ignored that Rask does play on an outstanding team who both attack and defend with aplomb, something that will help any goalie out.
THE WINNER IS: MARC-ANDRE FLEURY
Best “He’s Great In The Room…” Guy – The Jason Strudwick Trophy
The nominees are…
- Paul Bissonnette (PHX) – long-time Phoenix/Arizona enforcer actually scored a career high in points this year… with 8. He put up some PIMs and tweeted a lot.
Brad: “Because hey, he wins at twitter.”
- Mike Brown (EDM/SJS) – somehow the Oilers managed to get a 4th round pick for him from San Jose, and somehow he managed to get another contract. Definition of “energy guy”, he’s fearless and while not a heavyweight will stand up to anyone, clearly earning him respect from his team-mates. Trouble is, he doesn’t contribute to winning games very much.
Ger: “I guess Mike Brown somehow getting a new contract from the Sharks despite being terrible makes him the winner.”
- Matt Greene (LAK) – a fan favourite in LA, and in Edmonton beforehand, Greene may not be as good on the ice as he used to be, but he’s a tough son-of-a-gun, a leader and clearly respected by his team-mates. Also has a fantastic sense of humour.
Micki: “Greene seems to be a driving force behind the Kings’ success of late. His energy and leadership is a boost to the club.”
Chris: “We had a lot of voters refusing to participate on this one, with comments such as “can’t we just shoot them all into the sun?”. While for the most part I’m inclined to agree, not from a personal point of view but merely from a “these guys aren’t good enough for the NHL so why are they still here” standpoint, Matt Greene tops the list thanks to being some kind of decent NHL player AND a good guy to boot.”
- Matt Hendricks (NSH/EDM) – like all of these guys, is a fan favourite thanks to the rough-and-ready style. Many Oiler fans were not impressed to find he was the return for Devan Dubnyk, but by season’s end many actually admitted “he wasn’t as bad as we thought”. A vocal leader and capable penalty killer.
- George Parros (MTL) – the moustachio’d one is always going to make this list. His Anaheim glory days might be behind him, but he’s still a top-notch bloke by most accounts. His 1 point and 85 PIMs in 22 games tell you a lot about where he is now, however.
THE WINNER IS: MATT GREENE
Most Enigmatic Russian – The Alexei Kovalev Trophy
The nominees are…
- Dmitri Kulikov (FLA) – the Panthers defender has struggled the last two years, at least in terms of traditional stats, and there have been rampant trade rumours. This despite the fact that his underlying numbers are actually very good, and the 23 year old is still on track to be a very good top-4 defender.
- Andrei Loktionov (NJD) – previously thought to be a big part of the LA Kings’ future, Loktoniov struggled somewhat at the NHL level, and wasn’t much better after a move to New Jersey. He appears to have found his way somewhat in Carolina, and his underlying numbers suggest a decent soft-minutes player.
- Alex Ovechkin (WSH) – the Capitals’ resident superstar is regarded to have lost his way the last few seasons, despite two consecutive Rocket Richard Trophy wins. Many called this season the worst 50 goal season in history, along with statements that Ovechkin is a coach-killer and needs to be replaced, or at the very least stripped of the captaincy. Perhaps if the team around him was better, these issues wouldn’t arise.
Michael: “Oh, Ovi of course. He’s still batshit crazy, bless him.”
Sam: “Ovi. Enough said. Can’t defend for his life but magically entertaining.”
Micki: “Ovechkin is not really difficult to understand, he is cocky, plain and simple. It is sometimes rather difficult to understand some of his antics.”
Brad: “It’s Ovi, damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t. The media love him, because he will create stories. The cause and effect for everything that happens to the Caps.”
Chris: “Yakupov definitely earned consideration, as I think under-performance mixed with his heritage means a lot of people just don’t “get” him, but Ovechkin takes it. It seems he’s damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. He’s so enigmatic, All-Star Team voters can’t even get his position right (and screwing Taylor Hall out of a position in the process!). Great player, but terribly misunderstood and often doesn’t help his own case.”
Other votes: Melissa
- Alex Semin (CAR) – Semin is supremely talented, inconsistent, and a bit of an odd personality at the same time. Hence, to numerous fans and members of some media outlets: enigmatic. He also has received criticism from former team-mates for his lack of passion, not helping the image.
- Nail Yakupov (EDM) – “Yak” on the ice has a rock-star persona, full of talent, personality and intensity, and he reportedly is a fitness nut. However, his early struggles coupled with the pressure of being a 1st overall pick, and an aggressive agent intent on making the situation as awkward as possible, has led to many fans labeling him a bust and believing he’ll be on the first flight to Russia if things don’t work out. Despite his repeated statements that he wants to be in the NHL, and that he wants to improve, and that he wants to be an Oiler.
Ger: “It’s gotta be the Yak. Much like fellow enigmatic Russian Alex Ovechkin, Yakupov had a terrible +/- this year which made him something of a whipping boy for the Canadian media.”
THE WINNER IS: ALEX OVECHKIN
Fanciest Fancy Euro Player – The Kent Nilsson Trophy
The nominees are…
- Nicklas Backstrom (WSH) – a sublimely skilled playmaker who is actually criminally underrated as far as first line centers go. The guy can deke, dangle, snipe and pass with the best of them.
- Pavel Datsyuk (DET) – the man known as a wizard and a magician with the puck is always a lock for a nomination here. Everyone’s seen the mind-blowing moves, the dazzling dekes and sublime puck-control, no more explanation needed.
Micki: “Datsyuk makes it all look so easy and he does it with class. He is not an overly out-spoken player, but he is a great player who knows his role with the Red Wings.”
Brad: “Oh come on, have you watched the guy? He is a human highlight reel.”
- Ales Hemsky (EDM/OTT) – he’s been a divisive figure throughout his time in Edmonton, but there has never been any debate over his skill level. He can fly, and he can dangle, pulling off some dazzling moves against the league’s best.
- Thomas Hertl (SJS) – there’s a new kid on the block, and he introduced himself in style this year. He was a highly rated prospect, so his talent wasn’t disputed, but nobody expected THAT goal. Many have done it in a shootout, not too many in open play. Here’s hoping for many years of mind-blowing dekes.
Michael: “The ever-adorable Tomas Hertl. I love that kid, not least because of how much he pisses off that joyless old turd Don Cherry. Also ‘FUN MUST BE ALWALYS!!:)’.”
Sam: “Thomas Hertl, just for that finish against the Rangers and the commentators reactions to said goal.”
Chris: “Ordinarily this would go straight to my one true love, Ales Hemsky, but that move by Hertl was just simply… I mean wow. It might be annoying to some that we hand an award to a kid based on one move, but screw it, he deserves it.”
- Jaromir Jagr (NJD) – the ageless wonder was perfect for New Jersey this year, continuing to scare the life out of opposing teams with his array of moves en route to scoring. Perhaps more subtle nowadays, but no less skilled.
Ger: “I’m giving this to Jagr because of his great fancystat numbers which are really incredible at his age.”
THE WINNER IS: TOMAS HERTL
Most Surprising Player – The Martin St Louis Trophy
The nominees are…
- Gustav Nyquist (DET) – playing in only his first full NHL season, Nyquist has long been considered a strong prospect, but no-one expected his outburst of 14 goals and 24 points in 22 games after the Olympic break. It is unlikely that he’ll match that pace next year, but he did a hell of a job this year.
Sam: “Probably not that suprising he’s turning into Pavel Datsyuk, but I just want him to win something for carrying the Red Wings to the playoffs after they were hit by the plague.”
Brad: “A bit of bias here. But he stood up and carried Detroit when others fell through injury or lack of desire. (my personal choice of Luke Glendening wasn’t included in the vote).”
Chris: “Many deserving players here, and I’m one of those Debbie-Downers who thinks (read: knows) that his hot-streak won’t continue, but Nyquist truly caught everyone off-guard this year and was the talking point of the entire league for a good-portion of the season, and for good reason.”
- Kyle Okposo (NYI) – once considered the future on Long Island, Okposo – through a combination of lack of results, injury, and John Tavares – found himself sliding down the ranks slightly. This year however, he was outstanding, posting career highs across the board and looking like the player the Isles thought they’d drafted back in 2006.
Michael: “I’m surprised that Varlamov stayed out of jail (except I’m not, sadly) but Okposo had a breakout year and really should have gone to the Olympics. Also deserves better than the Isles.”
- Ondrej Palat (TBL) – no-one but prospect gurus, Drummondville fans and Lightning fans knew who Palat was before this year, but the young Czech burst onto the scene scoring 59 points and providing solid two-way play on his way to a Calder Trophy nomination.
Ger: “I knew nothing about Palat before this season but he really impressed me.”
- Joe Pavelski (SJS) – he’s been a well known, and well regarded, player for many years, but the 29-year old former 7th round draft pick caught everyone by surprise with his first 40+ goal season, leading a team with some real star power on board. It’s unlikely he’ll repeat that, but he’s put himself on the map at least.
- Semyon Varlamov (COL) – the embattled netminder has long had promise, and the Avs were hoping to turn that promise into something tangible when they traded a first rounder to Washington for him 3 years ago, and it finally paid off as he turned in a wonderful season that powered the team into the playoffs.
Micki: “Varlamov, with all the drama in the middle of the season, held it together to give the Avalanche a great season winning 41 games and only losing 14.”
THE WINNER IS: GUSTAV NYQUIST
Most Disappointing Player – The Joe Juneau Award
The nominees are…
- Sam Gagner (EDM) – Gagner is still just 24, yet has 7 years of NHL experience under his belt. Unfortunately, as popular Oilers blogger Lowetide puts it, he’s had one year’s experience 7 times. He’s been on awful teams, had countless coaches, and still has not truly progressed. He does still have great offensive talent, but this season – largely thanks to Zach Kassian breaking his jaw – was statistically one of his worst.
Ger: “Sam Gagner had a disappointing year just when he was supposed to be coming into his prime.”
- Evander Kane (WPG) – the big-bodied power-foward is two years removed from his only 30 goal campaign to date, and is simply not becoming the superstar many projected him to be, though he is still a solid enough NHL forward.
Micki: “The Jets had high hopes for Kane and he was just not able to fully deliver. (Although, I feel that Ryan Miller for St. Louis should have been on this list…Lol)”
Chris: “So many expectations for this guy, and he just hasn’t met them. I can’t help but wonder on a better team what he might be, but it’s not as if the Jets are awful. Still, a change of scenery might be what’s needed to kick him into high gear.”
- Joffrey Lupul (TOR)
Sam: “This’ll have to be Lupul, not just for sharing the name of the worst person in TV history courtesy of Game of Thrones, but for being useless all year. I know he had injuries, but the Leafs’ need everyone contributing, even the Zamboni drivers, and he disappeared. Plus, I already knew Bobby would struggle without Getzlaf, Perry, Teemu putting goals on a plate for him night after night. Trade just looks even better now.”
- Bobby Ryan (OTT)
Michael: “I suppose it’s Bobby.. although not really his fault that a dark-horse pick to get to the SCF decided to turn into an AHL team for the season.”
- Daniel Sedin (VAN)
Brad: “A season to forget and looked average to disappointing all season.”
THE WINNER IS: EVANDER KANE
Biggest Waste Of Money – The Wade Redden Award
The nominees are…
- David Clarkson (TOR) – one of last year’s hottest free agents, for no other reason than he was a big, physical, kind-of-power-forward who could score a little. Unfortunately for the Leafs, the emphasis must be put on the “little”. Even without hindsight, most had this pegged as a bad deal, the team paying him first line money when he’d only had one truly good scoring season. An absolute disaster.
Michael: “Oh, Clarkson. That’s the reeking turd atop the festering dungheap also known as “Toronto’s Roster Decisions”. I cant wait for them to trade Kadri so they can give Bolland $6 million for five years.”
Sam: “Clarkson…haha. View various tweets throughout the year for my thoughts on the hilarity of his deal, his perfomance, literally looking like he’s being weighed down by his wallet…etc.”
Ger: “David Clarkson. No explanation necessary.”
Chris: “Oh dear.”
- Vincent Lecavalier (PHI) – the former Tampa Bay star was bought out by the only team he’d ever known, and subsequently signed a big ticket deal with Philly. He scored 20 goals, but only 37 points total and is really starting to decline badly. Not what the Flyers are paying $4.5m per year for the next 4 years for.
Micki: “Lecavalier was just not worth the money. He was unable to deliver.”
Brad: “Didn’t offer much to Philly and Tampa actually looked better without him. Not worth the contract at all.”
- Rick Nash (NYR) – the veteran sniper has long been considered more of an elite complimentary player than a truly top tier forward, but even he should be expected to score more than 26 goals and 39 points, especially for a $7.8m cap hit for the next four years.
- Brad Richards (NYR) – overpaying aging veterans definitely appears to be an East-coast thing, and the Rangers are the poster boys. Richards had a solid year with 20 goals and 51 points, but is definitely showing his age, and is certainly not worth the $6.67m contract he just got bought out of.
- Alex Semin (CAR) – Semin had a great year for Carolina in 2012/13, and subsequently signed a 5-year, $7m per season contract with the team. 22 goals and 42 points, while solid, does not cover that kind of contract. The 30 year old will have to step it up next year.
THE WINNER IS:DAVID CLARKSON
Worst GM Trade Of The Year – The Mike Milbury Trophy
The nominees are…
- Doug Armstrong’s trade for Ryan Miller & Steve Ott – acquiring a veteran star goalie and a solid bottom 6 center wasn’t necessarily a bad idea for a team looking to make a push for a Cup, except that both of them were starting to show their age well before the trade, and were mediocre at absolute best when all was said and done.
Micki: “Armstrong was star struck by Miller and did everything he could to get him to St. Louis. The warning signs were there that Miller just was not the stellar goalie everyone hyped him up to be.”
- Craig MacTavish’s trade for Mark Fraser – the Oilers needed depth on defense last year (as they do every year), so MacT traded the rights to solid forward prospect Teemu Hartikainen (and enforcer Cam Abney) to Toronto for Mark Fraser, who by all accounts shouldn’t even be in the NHL.
- Doug Armstrong’s trade of David Perron – this time MacTavish appears on the good side of the ledger, as he nabbed Perron from Armstrong’s Blues. The trade was partly necessity for the Blues, who needed cap relief to sign Pietrangelo, but even so they were probably hoping for more from Magnus Paajarvi. Pajaarvi is a good bottom 6 player, but he will never live up to his draft pedigree. Perron, meanwhile, was one of Edmonton’s best forwards and set career highs in points and goals. The Blues used the 2nd round pick also acquired to select Ivan Barbashev, whom many had pegged as a 1st rounder – how he turns out could ultimately change the look of this trade.
- Garth Snow’s trade for Thomas Vanek – the Isles wanted an elite goal scorer to play with John Tavares. The problem was, the one they targeted was pretty much identical to the one they traded for him. D’oh!
Michael: “I’d be inclined to add the Bowman trade for Kris Versteeg in there, but let’s go for Garth Snow and Vanek. Deary, deary me.”
Sam: “Because it’s rare the universal hockey community look at a trade unanimously thinking ‘what an idiot’.”
Chris: “In true Islander tradition (hi, Mr Milbury!), Garth Snow outdid himself this year. The idea of trading for Thomas Vanek isn’t a bad one in and of itself, but the team gave up Matt Moulson (a highly comparable goal scorer to Vanek at this stage in their careers) and two high draft picks. And then Vanek refused to sign an extension. And then Snow traded him for a solid if unspectacular prospect and a 2nd rounder. You got that? Garth Snow traded Matt Moulson, a 1st round pick (which will be in 2015 – the deepest draft since 2003) and a 2nd round pick (also in 2015), for Sebastian Collberg and a 2nd round pick. In the words of Melissa: oy vey.”
Other votes: Melissa
- Garth Snow’s trade for Cal Clutterbuck – Nino Niederreiter had his struggles as a young pro, no doubt, but he was just coming off a dominant AHL season. Cal Clutterbuck meanwhile, is an OK-ish bottom six forward. For a rebuilding team to trade, one-for-one, a top young prospect for a bottom-6 forward is just baffling. Nino outscored Cal in the NHL this year.
Ger: “Giving up Nino Niederreiter for Cal Clutterbuck is gonna win you this award every year.”
THE WINNER IS: GARTH SNOW’S TRADE FOR THOMAS VANEK
Best GM Trade Of The Year – The Pierre Lacroix Award
The nominees are…
- Dean Lombardi’s trade for Marian Gaborik – Gaborik was a very astute pickup by Lombardi, enjoying a nice stretch run followed by an outstanding run of goalscoring in the playoffs on the way to a Stanley Cup. Many didn’t think speedy goalscorer Gaborik would fit the Kings’ stifling system, but they forget that Gaborik learned the NHL game under Jacques Lemaire.
Ger: “The Gaborik trade couldn’t have worked out any better as his goalscoring led the Kings to another Stanley Cup.”
Other votes: Melissa
- Bryan Murray’s trade for Ales Hemsky – the Edmonton outcast finally got to spread his wings again, showing what playing with a real NHL center can do. Was outstanding for Ottawa in their failed drive for a playoff spot, and they only gave up a couple of mid-to-late picks for him.
- Jim Nill’s trade for Tyler Seguin & Rich Peverley – Seguin truly blossomed into an elite center in the NHL this year, forming a deadly duo with Jamie Benn as he set career highs in goals and points (37 & 84), while Peverley was doing a fine job in a middle-six role before his unfortunate health problems. They gave up a fair bit, but it has proven to be worth the price.
Michael: “Jim Nill gets this one, although the same trade could have earned Peter Chiarelli the Milbury award, as he let the Boston’s idiot media and fans run Seguin out of town.”
Sam: “Jim Nill should pat himself on the back, buy himself whatever takes his fancy, shoot some pistols in the air, pray – basically whatever type of celebration goes down in Texas. Got so much upside courtesy of Seguin who has blossomed and this deal just looks ugly from Boston’s perspective.”
Micki: “Nill’s trade for Seguin and Peverley was a great move to set his team up with a better chance at having a solid season and a good play-off run.”
Brad: “I liked this, both offered something to the team and improved them as a unit. Seguin especially impressed, leaving behind all the rumours of his attitude to be part of solid building project for Jim Nill.”
Chris: “It’s not often that top young centermen become available in a trade, so when one did Jim Nill pounced and his bet paid off big time. Seguin finally lived up to his potential, and could be one of the league’s best over the next few years.”
- Jim Rutherford’s trade for Andrej Sekera – if Buffalo were planning to tank last year, trading one of your best defenders is the way to go. Sekera has long been an underrated two-way player, putting up quality possession stats and generally being a difficult bugger to play against.
- Craig MacTavish’s trade for Ben Scrivens – just as many Oiler fans were getting antsy over the return for Devan Dubnyk, MacT pulled the trigger to get Scrivens back to his hometown, and he didn’t disappoint. He put up some damn fine performances, including a record-setting one against San Jose. The starting job is his to lose for next year. All for the price of a 3rd round pick.
THE WINNER IS: JIM NILL’S TRADE FOR TYLER SEGUIN & RICH PEVERLEY
Worst Signing Of The Year – The Steve Tambellini Award
The nominees are…
- Paul Holmgren signing Vincent Lecavalier – that Lecavalier signing once again! Paying a forward approaching his mid-30s $4.5m a year for several years when he’s already shown signs of decline is never a good bet to make.
Michael: “In a year dominated by Dave Nonis & Garth Snow, let us not forget the utter stupidity of Holmgren using a compliance buyout on Danny Briere and then signing Lecavalier for $4.5 million a year until 2018.”
Sam: “LOLmgren doing what he does best. Plus bought out Danny Briere to fund the trade, it’s like he’s reading ‘How to GM for dummies’ backwards.”
Micki: “Holmgren signing Lecavalier looked like a good idea on paper, but Lecavalier was just unable to deliver his end of the bargain. His lack-luster playing made him and Holmgren look like idiots.”
Brad: “Same as above really. Just didn’t work out for either party.”
- Craig MacTavish signing Andrew Ference – a divisive signing, Ference brought a wealth of experience and leadership to a young Edmonton squad badly in need of it. Unfortunately, to get him here it took a no-movement clause and 4 years at $3.25 per year, far too much for a guy who is no longer capable of top-4 minutes.
- Garth Snow signing Pierre-Marc Bouchard – Bouchard was once one of Minnesota’s highly skilled core forwards, but has been in decline for a while, partly thanks to continued health issues. His $2m contract with the Isles wasn’t the worst in the world, but he ended up spending most of the year in the AHL thanks to a lack of production.
- Dave Nonis signing David Clarkson – D’oh!
Ger: “Hard to top that one.”
Chris: “That was just ugly.”
- David Poile signing Matt Hendricks – Hendricks by all means can have his place on an NHL roster. He’s physical, fearless, not without some skill, can PK, and a leader. But you don’t pay him almost $2m for 4 years to do it. Luckily for them they palmed him off to Edmonton midway through the year, and they actually quite like him.
THE WINNER IS: PAUL HOLMGREN SIGNING VINCENT LECAVALIER
Best Signing Of The Year – The Peter Chiarelli Award
The nominees are…
- Glenn Sather signing Benoit Pouliot – Pouliot may not have lived up to his draft pedigree, but he’s been moulded into a fine middle-six forward who is a puck possession monster. At $1.3m, he provided the Rangers with skill, grit and play-driving abilities all the way to the Cup Finals.
- Bryan Murray signing Clarke MacArthur – for some reason the Maple Leafs didn’t want a reliable middle-six scorer in their ranks, so Ottawa pounced on the opportunity to sign him for 2 years at $3.25m per year. He responded with a 55 point season, bargain.
- Lou Lamoriello signing Jaromir Jagr – despite being 42, Jagr just put up a 67 point season for only $3.5m (with $2m in bonuses on top). That’s a steal.
Micki: “It looked like Lamoriello made a huge mistake when he signed Jagr. Jagr seemed to be a washed up player whose glory days were long gone. But Jagr was an asset to the team.”
Brad: “Age is just a number, Jagr proving to be a valuable asset no matter what team he plays for. Offered plenty for New Jersey.”
Chris: “The season that Jagr had was quite remarkable really, and it doesn’t look like he’s done yet. Long may the Jagr farewell tour continue!”
- Dale Tallon signing Tom Gilbert
Ger: “A lot of good candidates here, but signing a top pairing defenceman like Gilbert for peanuts in August was a fantastic bit of business.”
- George McPhee signing Mikhail Grabovski
Michael: “The Caps were the main benificiaries of the Leafs’ ineptitude this year. The needlessly bought-out Grabovski was a weapon on their already terrifying PP. Please, Mr Bowman, can we haz?”
Sam: “Mikhail Grabovski always looked like another mistake by the Leafs and he started the season on fire, tailed off a little towards the end as the Capitals did, but definitely an integral part of their PP, which is the best in the league. Deserves an honorary mention, but I would give the award to Sather. Pouliot had the best season of his career in my opinion, part of the only line that can hold their head up high after the Cup final humiliation, clicked wonderfully with the coaching of Vigneault, who brought the best out of him.”
THE WINNER IS: LOU LAMORIELLO SIGNING JAROMIR JAGR