Last week James Mirtle asked all of the SBN Hockey bloggers to suggest their team's nominees for the major individual trophies and when James says jump other bloggers say how high. Apparently we dicked around for a while but in the end we joined the group. You can see the nominees for all 30 teams in this post which ruffled some feathers in Quebec. If you can't read French then just know that the criticism in some cases basically boils down to "I would have chosen the French one!".
Anyway, here are our picks (actually only three of them were joint picks) and our justifications. We also gave the awards much more Leaf-centric names. The best part is that it won't even cost you $500 to see these awards handed out. You will, however, have to check it out after the jump.
The Borschevsky "Un-bee-leeb-abba" First Year Player Award
Rookie of the Year
This year's Borschevsky winner is... Luke Schenn!
PPP: His season started by being the player that launched a thousand debates. Should Luke be returned to Kelowna or is the NHL the best place for his development? One of us worried about Our Luke and Saviour and the other one was right.
Despite turning 19 at the beginning of November (when it mattered) Luke was hugely influential and on some nights made us drool with his potential. After a good first season kicking ass and taking names Luke is off to terrorise the rest of the world at the World Hockey Championships where he will presumably conquer France.
Chemmy: As a vocal proponent of the "return Schenn to Kelowna" crew I'd like to say a few words. First, I bought a Luke Schenn jersey because I love the kid and I'm delighted the Leafs traded up to get him. Schenn tailed off at the end of a long season playing big minutes on a bad Leafs club and I think next year is going to be a big test for the young d-man.
I'd also give consideration for this award to Mikhail Grabovski who, despite being pretty old, put up big numbers.
The Doug Gilmour Award
Given to the player who demonstrates the most skill in the defensive component of the game
This year's Doug Gilmour award winner is... Nikolai Kulemin!
PPP: Before the season has even started Howard Berger decided to take some shots at one internet poster who had perhaps a rosy view of Kulemin's potential in his first seaon. What did Working Class Howard use to disprove the poster's belief? Three year old scouting reports. What the Leafs got was more closely in line with Dave King's evaluation: a skilled forward with above average hockey sense.
From the first game what impressed me the most was the way, as King mentions, that he read the play well in terms of covering for his teammates and how he used his speed on the forecheck. He was successful in changing pace to pressure puck carriers and frequently caught them off guard. As the season continued he also grew much more confident in is offensive skills.
Note: This will be the easiest to contradict. We should have given it to Poni for a lot of reasons but we did this kind of half-assed.
Chemmy: Kulemin looks like he might be kind of a late bloomer but he definitely played solid two way hockey this season. I was a little worried based on all the hype I heard about Kulemin over at HFboards that Kulemin would be the next Vorobiev, a super hyped (by Leafs fans) Russian prospect that didn't deliver much if anything to the Leafs.
I don't think Kulemin is a first line player but combined with Ponikarovsky and Grabovski the Leafs have a nice young second line.
The Bill Barilko Award
This year's Bill Barilko award winner (stay away from chartered fights) is... Pavel Kubina!
PPP: This is one of the other ones that we originally left blank and you could argue that we got it wrong.
5-on-5 he played the fifth most minutes against the fourth toughest opponents, and the 8th most points. 4-on-5 everyone was terrible but Kubina played the 5th most minutes against the 4th toughest opponents although he did have the best GA/60 among the regular defencemen. 5-on-4 Kubina drove the bus in terms of results. He had the most points per 60 minutes and was on for the most goals by far (33).
Overall, Kubina probably sticks out in my mind a bit more because of his durability, his willingness to block shots and his four game-winning goals, and the complete nature of his game. So turns out that maybe we were right but this one is definitely open to different interpretations.
Chemmy: I've always been a P-K fan and I think it's pretty clear Kubina was the big presence on the blue line this year. Tomas Kaberle looked mostly lost, slow, and confused on the ice, to be fair everyone on the Leafs did at times, but Kubina ate some big minutes this year and generated some good offense from the point with his big shot.
Ian White is a possible consideration for this award but he's short, looks like Bruce McCullogh, and I hate him, so there.
The Wendel Clark "All Hart" Trophy *
* Obviously Clark wins this award every year. We're just highlighting the second place finisher.
This year's Wendel Clark award winner is... Jason Blake!
Chemmy: Honestly I feel best about saying no-one. Jason Blake came close to living up to what he was when the Leafs signed him but I still don't feel great calling him the "most valuable". Wendel Clark would spin in his grave if he found out I was mentioning Blake in the same breath as him.
PPP - This is another one that we wanted to leave blank but I had to make a hasty choice. It is shocking to think that Jason Blake could be the Leafs' MVP after his play last year. Blake led the Leafs in points with 25-38-63.
5-on-5 Blake played the most minutes and had the third best scoring rate, 5-on-4 Blake played the second most minutes and had the third best scoring rate, and 4-on-5 Blake was on the ice for the fewest goals against out of the regular penalty killers.
Looking at his situational stats Blake scored 7 clutch points and 19 in the last 5 minutes of games. Only 4 of his 23 third period points didn't come in the last 5 minutes and he also improved his shooting percentage. Oddly enough, despite ramping things up in the third he had 0 OT points.
Note: If I had to go for another candidate I'd probably say Ponikarovsky which would make two trophies he could have won. Looks like outsiders might not be the only ones to undervalue the Ukrainian.
The "Felix Potvin 1 Ron Hextall 0" Trophy
Given to the goaltender who most exemplifies being fantastic
This year's Felix Potvin award winner is... NO ONE BECAUSE THEY ALL SUCKED!
PPP: This is one that we were allowed to keep completely blank. It's no surprise that we chose to do so as the Leafs gave up the most goals in the league (286 GA, 3.49 GA/G) and the sole goalie with a save percentage over .900 only joined the team after the trade deadline. Awesome nickname aside, if we're giving it to a goalie with limited appearances that helped the Leafs win a handful of games we might as well have given it to Jim Carey Price.
Vesa Toskala had a .891 save percentage which looks amazing when compared to Joseph's .869 or Pogge's woeful .844. Fixing the mess in net is Brian Burke's most pressing issue and he seems to be well on his way with his pursuit of Jonas Gustavsson.
Chemmy: I'm going to give this to the Gerberserker. He played some good games, made some good stops, and flipped his shit and punched a ref. Felix would be proud.
So now that you have seen our choices what do you guys think? Where were we right on (Schenn/No Vezina) and where were we off-base (everything else)? Let us know in the comments or if you're really a go-getter write a fanpost.