Daniel Sedin was awarded the Cyclone Taylor, for team MVP, in 2011. Who earned the honour this season?
With the regular season winding down, the Vancouver Canucks handed out their team awards just a few days ago. Trying to keep up with things, The Nation Network has decided to hand out (virtual) year-end hardware for each team across the network this season. Just past the jump we’ll be sharing our votes – gathered from all of your favourite voices on this fine site – on 6 individual award categories, with write-ups explaining the thought process behind the decisions included. We’ll also be opening up voting for you, the readers, so make sure your opinion is heard!
Team MVP (Cyclone Taylor)
Nominees: Henrik Sedin, Cory Schneider, Dan Hamhuis
CA Writers Pick – Henrik Sedin (5 out of 8 votes)
Cyclone Taylor Award Winner – Cory Schneider
I think this award actually warrants the most discussion out of the bunch, as a legitimate case can be made for the likes of Henrik Sedin, Cory Schneider, and Dan Hamhuis. I personally voted for Sedin, but spent some time going back and forth out of respect for the season’s the other two just submitted this year.
As for Schneider, he was remarkable in less than optimal circumstances during his first season as the team’s number one starter. In the first two months of the season – January and February, which still feels weird to say – the starts were distributed evenly between himself and Roberto Luongo; they each got the nod 4 times in January, and 6 times in February. It seems like ages ago now, but at the time there was real discussion as to whether or not Roberto Luongo would even give the team a chance to play Schneider given how well he was performing.
Starting with the March 2nd game against the Kings, though, Schneider was nearly unbeatable in the final 2 months of the season. After having posted save percentages of .897 and .914 in the months of January and February, he put up save percentages of .937 and .936 in March and April. Unsurprisingly, he started 20 of the team’s final 29 games. There was many a night where the team in front of him was having a tough time generating any offence and were getting clearly outplayed, but still wound up winning thanks to his stellar play. There’s no doubt that he was an exceptionally valuable player for the Vancouver Canucks in this shortened season.
But despite his best efforts, he still wasn’t more valuable than the team’s captain. Before the seasons I wondered out loud on this platform as to whether we were about to start seeing the decline of the best pair of Swedish twins not in the adult entertainment industry. And technically, we saw their production, in a vacuum slip, Daniel’s rate of 0.85 points/game was his lowest since ’03-’04, while Henrik’s 0.94 points/game were his lowest since ’07-’08. However when it comes to analyzing sports, it’s silly to settle for looking at things in a vacuum.
If you haven’t done so already, I strongly urge you to read Thomas Drance’s post on the Sedins, and the two-way game they played this season. To sum things up: their raw counting stats declined this season, but that tells us more about the circumstances the twins than anything. Without the likes of Manny Malhotra and Ryan Kesler, they were forced to play against tougher opposition while starting fewer shifts in the offensive zone. Despite this fact, they drove play in quite a ridiculous way, putting the team in a position to succeed.
Prior to the acquisiton of Derek Roy at the deadline, an inordinate amount of time was spent fretting about the "riddle in the middle" the team was faced with. Now imagine a world in which you plucked Henrik Sedin off of the roster. For essentially 3/4 of the season, that would have left the Canucks with Andrew Ebbett, Jordan Schroeder, and Max Lapierre as their primary players down the middle. Oh boy. Henrik Sedin was the most irreplaceable Canuck this season, making him the most valuable one, too.
Nominees: Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, Alex Burrows, Jannik Hansen
CA Writers Pick – Henrik Sedin (8 out of 8 votes)
Feel free to re-read the section above one more time.
Best Defenseman (Walter ‘Babe’ Pratt)
Nominees: Dan Hamhuis, Jason Garrison, Alex Edler, Kevin Bieksa, Cam Barker (kidding)
CA Writers Pick – Dan Hamhuis (7 out of 8 votes)
Actual Babe Pratt Winner – Dan Hamhuis
Dan Hamhuis doesn’t play a flashy game, and will rarely ever make a highlight package. Because of that, he is usually overlooked and his impact on the game tends to be taken for granted. As Canucks fans and observers we’ve become spoiled over the years by the consistent excellence of the team’s star players, both up front with the Sedins and in net with Roberto Luongo (and now Cory Schneider). For the past three seasons now, Hamhuis has been that consistent cornerstone on the back-end that can be relied upon game in and game out. It has gotten to the point where I am legitimately taken aback when he has a hiccup in his own zone.
I think a perfect testament to his value for the team came this season, when he was split up from Kevin Bieksa and paired with Jason Garrison. If you’ll recall, him and Bieksa were spectacular together last season, prompting me to put them somewhere in the top 5 best pairings in the entire league. Yet after Garrison struggled somewhat to start his tenure with the Canucks, he was paired with Hamhuis. All they went on to do was make sweet music together, putting themselves into the discussion for being the best pairing in the Western Conference. Can you spot the common denominator here? Let me help you out: it’s the soothing influence of Dan Hamhuis, who makes the players around him better (a calling card of great players).
For those scoring at home, he led the team in both time on ice at 5v5, and while shorthanded. Amongst the team’s defensemen he also played against the toughest competition, while registering the best possession numbers. There’s no doubt that he was the best Canuck on the back-end.
Now if only we could get him to stop constantly looking like someone just kicked his dog..
Best Young Player
Nominees: Chris Tanev, Jordan Schroeder, Zack Kassian, Frank Corrado
CA Writers Pick – Chris Tanev (7 out of 7 votes, one abstention)
Green players are supposed to have massive ups and downs, so it’s no surprise that two of the candidates had moments of brilliance mixed into periods of irrelevance. Then again, if Kassian had remained with the Sedins, or if Jordan Schroeder had been given consistent minutes rather than being yo-yo’d around, maybe things would have turned out differently.
However as things stand, Chris Tanev had the biggest impact on the team based on the remarkable consistency that he showed for such a young, inexperienced player (especially given his position). Amongst the team’s defensemen, he started the 2nd fewest percentage of shifts in the offensive zone (behind Andrew Alberts), and spent a large majority of the season playing next to players that I wouldn’t exactly classify as awesome (Barker, Alberts, Ballard). That said Tanev also played against third pairing competition all season, which was enough to make Cam Charron withhold his vote entirely…
Tanev seemed to take a slight step back in the underlying data from last season, but I would attribute that to the increased workload – both in terms of ice time and number of games played. With that being said, Tanev still managed to lead the team’s back-end in shot supression, with the team giving up just 8.06 shots against/20 while he was on the ice (ahead of Hamhuis’ 8.76). He’s an RFA this summer, and getting him locked up will be one of the team’s main priorities, I’m sure.
Plus, if you’re unconvinced, let me remind you of that epic overtime winner against the Edmonton Oilers that sent the Twittersphere into a frenzy. That moment alone was probably worthy of this award.
Unsung Hero (Fred J. Hume)
Nominees: Alex Burrows, Roberto Luongo, Jason Garrison, Andrew Alberts, Jannik Hansen, Chris Higgins
CA Writers Pick – Alex Burrows (3 votes out of 7)
Actual Winner – Jannik Hansen
This was the most contested vote among our writers, so I figured I’d share some of their takes on voting.
Higgins went through a rough patch this season where he was getting blown to smitherines in possession, but since the addition of Derek Roy in particular he has become a key component of the top 9. Higgins is a guy who’s good on both sides of the puck, can play on any line, and busts his ass every shift. His chemistry with Kesler and Roy will be a big asset in the playoffs.
Thom does a great job of making sure everybody gets his proper share of credit around these parts but Alex Burrows needs to be commended for having such a tough season. He played his usual role next to the twins, bounced around various forward spots on the second and third line and took in his share of the faceoff duties. His 9.3% shooting percentage was the lowest since his 2007 season, and he scored 13 goals to boot.
Can I go with Kevin Bieksa? We know how important he’s been, but it’s been stark the last few games when he’s been out with injury. Plus, every other team hates him.
Unsung Hero: Alberts, he’s been really good filling in the holes.
I think PetBugs was lit during voting guys… I’m voting Alex Burrows because the goals weren’t there, no one sang his praises all season long, and he was Alain Vigneault’s stabilizing force, in terms of fattening up the lineup when needed, all year.
Goat of the Year
Nominees: Cam Barker, David Booth, Andrew Ebbett, Dale Weise, Thomas Vanek (*)
CA Writers Pick – Cam Barker (4 votes out of 8)
David Booth actually received two votes from our writers, which I didn’t particularly agree with. Yes, he only played 12 games and scored just 1 goal, which is obviously not enough from a player with his talent and cap-hit. But I just don’t believe that you can classify someone as a "goat" for being injured. This was an unfortunate season for Booth, and I remain convinced that there’s zero chance that he gets bought out this summer. It would be a mistake, but that’s a discussion that I’m sure we’ll be revisiting come summer-time.
For me, this was a two-man race between Cam Barker and Andrew Ebbett. While Ebbett is a more useful hockey player – which says something about Barker, by the way – I was quite disappointed by him this season. Heading into the year the team had a glaring hole down the middle on the second line, and I figured that he may actually be able to be serviceable in that role for a short period of time. Well, we quickly found out he wasn’t.
Yet somehow I think Barker was an even bigger goat based on the fact that he’s a horrendous hockey player, who people legitimately had to talk about when the Canucks signed him prior to the season. Other than the laughs that he provided, he was an abomination. A low-risk abomination on a one year contract, but an abomination nonetheless.
*You may have realized that Thomas Vanek was listed as a nominee, despite not actually being part of the team (at least I hope you realized that). That was Cam Charron’s way of being both witty and snide; his reasoning was that "he made Cody Hodgson look like a useful centreman, making reasonable hockey discussion even more elusive in this town." Classic Charron.
There you have it. Please cast your vote for all of the various awards, and we’ll reveal the winners as picked by the readers in the coming days.
Meanwhile, in case you’re enjoying all of this awards talk and would like some more reading on the subject, let me direct you to the thoroughly entertaining column by Jeff Angus on the very subject. He takes it a step further by handing out the Ed Jovanovski Award, the Corey Hirsch Award, and the Martin Gelinas Award, to name a few.
Other Nations Year-End Awards
- Flames Nation
- Oilers Nation
- Jets Nation
- Leafs Nation