Monday, March 15, 2010

UAA Hockey Fan Blog Awards: 09-10

Here we are again, time for my all-important (variability based on perspective) annual award announcement for the Seawolves.  It was a difficult year for one category and incredibly simple for another.  While the two middle categories required some consideration for a number of players, I believe my choices there are fairly solid.  Chime in with your comments.  My committee of one welcomes the input.

Rookie of the Year
You Pick It
In the past, I have foregone awarding a category for the reason that nobody did quite enough to garner it in my mind.  But that was for the MVP award.  How do you not give a Rookie of the Year award on a team with 8 rookies that pretty much all saw a decent amount of ice time?  Conversely, how do I separate the close statistical differences between 3 or 4 of them.  Daniel Naslund would just about have to be the selection if you just look at the final stat line.  But honestly, his skating is so deficient that I couldn't bring myself to it.  He had 3 goals and 9 assists in 33 games with a -6 rating overall.  Mickey Spencer finished 2nd among rookies with 4 goals and 7 assists in 31 games and a -10 rating.  Alex Gellert had 3 goals and 7 assists with a -9 rating.  Lee Baldwin had 1 goal and 10 assists for a mostly close statistical comparison, but his -17 rating was the lowest on the whole team.  Bruijsten trailed the regular players, in 31 games he nabbed just 2 goals and 3 assists with a -8 rating.  I like a lot of what Chris Crowell brought to the ice in his 25 games.  But the guy managed no points and was a -9.  Drew Darwitz and Tyler Currier (while both showing good potential) just didn't play in enough games for full consideration.  So there it is.

Most Improved Player
Kane Lafranchise
For his first two seasons Kane Lafranchise has shown flashes of potential and good things to come.  This season though, he brought those flashes of potential to near full fruition.  Kane's play in the 2nd half of the season was nothing short of great.  Down the stretch, Kane showed an ability likely born of confidence.  As he's matured, he seems to know innately that he can be an offensive force from the blueline.  His breakout passes are stellar, his puck rushing has been confident and influential.  He's got a solid shot and his on-ice vision doesn't ever seem to fail.  And this season, he put all those tools to use in leading the Seawolves blueliners in scoring.  Kane simply bloomed this season, in particular during the 2nd half.  Next season he will undoubtedly have one of the best seasons we've seen from a blueliner in quite a long time.  All the tools are there and Kane seems to have found the confidence to utilize them.

Heart and Soul
Nils Backstrom/Sean Wiles
I gave the 08/09 version of this award to Nils Backstrom for his unflappable and excellent defensive work all season long.  This year he matched that play and improved it.  He was a -2 overall for the year on a team that only had one full-time player on the + side and every other defenseman was substantially lower.  Sean Wiles was a +3 on the year and finished 3rd on the team in scoring.  He's here both because of that and his unending never say die attitude with regard to his play.  Both of these guys are imbued with the characteristic I imagined a "Heart and Soul" award winner should have.  They are fiercely competitive and their statistics show they're successful.  While we will miss Nils next year on the blueline as he pursues his professional ambitions, we get  Sean back.  Don't be surprised to see a "C" on his sweater next season.

Most Valuable Player
Kevin Clark
This is the only award that gave me no heartburn selecting.  It is the only award I expect no alternative choices to be listed in the comments section.  Kevin scored the most goals by a Seawolves player since Derek Donald in 92-93.  Ding, ding, ding, ding ... we have the MVP.  Kevin's talent, production and grittiness will all be greatly missed next season.  He leaves a hole that most likely can only be filled by multiple players.  It was a full-on pleasure to watch his career in the green and gold.  Kevin's performances this season put him on par with many of the recognized elite level players in the WCHA.  To lead the league in goal scoring while playing on the 8th place team is no small accomplishment.  If Kevin is not recognized with inclusion on the All-WCHA team announcements later in the week then the voters in the WCHA are a complete sham.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Excellent choices on the awards. However, in regards to the +/- I find that is rarely an indicator of how the player plays. Too many factors weigh in, particularily on this team where goal scoring wasn't a strength.

Donald Dunlop said...

I tend to agree with your comments about +/- ... but I think Backstroms and Wiles numbers were exceptional regardless of the caveats. But I had to drill down to that stat looking for a way to separate the rookies. All in all this selecting for awards gig is subjectivity in action.

There are good reasons throughout the lineup to select alternate choices to mine (except the MVP award). For example, even with just 13 games I think I could make a case for Tyler Currier for Hearth and Soul. I did consider naming Ken Selby for that one as well.

For most improved there is a case to be made for Jade Portwood or even Drew Darwitz.

Anonymous said...

Wiles and Darwitz were the only players on the team to be on the plus side of the stat. I believe they were both +3 for the year even though Darwitz played less games (18) still a good stat to have. I also heard that Darwitz played more games then any other WCHA walk on..Any truth to that?

Suze said...

I choose Gellert for Rookie of the Year. Parkinson for Heart & Soul, he gave it his all, including sacrificing his body night after night.

Donald Dunlop said...

Parky would be a great choice as well for Heart and Soul without a doubt. He really did a good job on his line this year filling a role and he always seems to come out on the plus side with faceoffs which for UAA is rare.

Suze said...

Not to take anything away from Portwood, he did an excellent job on the penalty kill and blocked a ton of rubber as well. But I loved Parkys spirit.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know when and where,
what airline the guys will be in tonight?
We want to welcome them home?
Thanks a bunch.
Seawolf fans.

Donald Dunlop said...

I'm sorry I don't. And I don't really know how one would find out. They're only just getting back tonight?

Anonymous said...

Plus/minus means little? What planet are you guys on? Big minus means one thing--you're too soft. Sorry, that's reality.

Anonymous said...

Too soft? Now I don't agree. Even the scouts don't look seriously at that stat.

A Seawolves Fanatic said...

2 of Gellert's 3 goals were game winners, one of them he swung on net backhand skating backwards while getting the business from an opposing player. Nothing against our other freshman's but Gellert deserves it. He came into his own and found his game just before the mid-point of the season.

If Clarky gets a entry-level NHL contract how long can it be?

Anonymous said...

Good choices, i think it's a toss up between Gellert and Spencer for rookie. Gellert played the majority of the season on the top line and received more ice time, all be it deserved. Spencer showed what his potential is at times during the season ecspecially on the Denver trip. Make it a tie and thank the Cowichan Capitals for the job they did with them.

Anonymous said...

Nhl entry level contract would be 2 years for a 22 year old.
He is more likely to start in the ahl, I am sure he has offers.
Wish the best to Kevin.

Zzzz said...

Clark is headed to play in the for the Manitoba Moose in the AHL...

Anonymous said...

A link to our favorite ADN reporter who appears to break the news:
http://community.adn.com/adn/node/150723

Donald Dunlop said...

Well congrats to Kevin. Should be a good fit for him playing at home.

Sigh ... you'd think one year I'd get a call from someone so I could break the story. But I guess the thousands of words I write about players like Kevin don't mean much to people when they can tell the local newspaper guy that doesn't even like the team.

Anonymous said...

Doyle Woody is a lazy tool

Anonymous said...

Donald, I know Kevin Clark, and I am sure he would thank you in person for all the postive comments you wrote about him.
fan

Donald Dunlop said...

I'm lazy. Doyle gets paid to communicate with the players and staff and get stories. I don't do that because I don't get paid and I believe these guys need their privacy etc ...

I have my email addy and phone number clearly posted. Providing me some notice before Doyle Woody would have been a nice thank you to me for my efforts.

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