Scouts Honor: Our Fantasy Awards + NHL Skinny
WRITTEN BY CHRIS WASSEL | 21 JUNE 2011
(Photo Credit: Tenders’ Lounge)
Oh controversy, how we enjoy thee. This year we give you the fun of twising the fantasy hockey awards around with the NHL Awards in a way that may not be the prettiest of mashups. However, we hope you enjoy our way of “doing up” some of the awards and then yes giving our predictions to the actual ones as well.
Surely, agreement and consensus is not likely here but the manner that we come up with these is done with much forethought. The goal is to give the Fantasy MVP our biggest spotlight and then work our way down to the rest of the awards and then the NHL ones naturally. The process was not very scientific but more of a meat and potatoes approach. We let other people go into the super obscure stat categories while we give you what may have won or lost your league. If you had one of our nominees, you were probably pretty happy but grumbling if you had to play against any of them those given weeks. That is just the way it works.
All your normal key vital fantasy categories were taken into account in the nomination process so if you feel “your guy” was snubbed, then give us some reasons why. No one likes sugar coating so just lay it all on the line for us and we will take a look at it. In the meantime, there is some work to do here as first we give you our marquis Fantasy MVP nods and winner. Here we go.
2011 Fantasy Hockey Awards
Fantasy MVP — It was a challenge to find three nominees in a year where the hottest player who would have won, Sidney Crosby, was lost due to a double concussion in early January. If Crosby had stayed healthy, he was on pace for an astounding 132 points which would have easily beat our field. Sixty six points in half a year is nothing to sneeze at considering those numbers have not been seen in nearly two decades. Even Steven Stamkos started out on fire averaging nearly a goal a game at one point (it felt that way) and then he tailed off in the home stretch. The last month of the season can make or break your fantasy team so a hot finish sometimes can offset an even more torrid start. That is often the case when you do ultimately break these things down. Now let’s do this.
Our first nominee is Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins. The hot start never really cooled him off much and the last couple weeks of the regular season helped his cause as well. Overall, Thomas was 35-11-9 in 55 games started with a 2.00 GAA, .938 save percentage, and nine shutouts. That comes out to almost 1 shutout for every 6 games started. That was very similar to what Roberto Luongo produced in 54 games a couple years back. The difference is that Thomas faced 1811 shots this year compared to the 1694 shots he faced two years ago in that Vezina run. Thomas battled all season but his crazy start buoyed many teams to hot starts that they did not look back from. Just when it appeared like he was going to cool off, he showed at the end a finishing kick that may not have been the best but may have been enough to seal the win.
Then there was Corey Perry of the Anaheim Ducks. Perry was on his way to another ho-hum 80 point season when he hit the maximum overdrive button or a turbo boost. Whatever the occasion was, Perry went from point a game guy to goal scoring machine. He tallied 19 goals in the last 16 games of the regular season and chipped in 11 assists as well. Perry carried a hurting Ducks team into the playoffs. No one knew how injured the Ducks were at the time but Perry seemed to save his best for last as 11 of his 19 goals in the streak came in the third period or overtime. Overall Perry had 20 of those on the year which led the NHL. Piling on, Corey Perry also had 11 GWG’s and 290 shots on net with a 17.2 shooting percentage. His number over the last month was 26% or 19 for 73 for the math majors out there. That is one way to finish what you started for any fantasy owner.
Finally there was Daniel Sedin who led the league with 104 points. He had 41 goals and 63 assists along the way including an impressive 10 GWG’s on 266 shots. What caught our eye was the 18 goals and 24 assists on the man advantage which led the NHL. Oh by the way this Sedin was a +30 and though he may have benefitted from twin, Henrik Sedin’s, 75 assists, it is clear that Daniel Sedin was able to create his own offense when needed. The thing always to keep in mind is that this is a regular season award and in that part of the year no player was better in scoring than Daniel Sedin. So yes he had to be nominated.
Who was our winner this year? Well it was a very tough process and many weighed in. We do want to thank the many people that helped us throughout the process. Congratulations are in order for Tim Thomas who takes home our Fantasy MVP award this year with his 35 wins and 2.00 GAA. The netminder buoyed many teams to fantasy wins and great showings in their leagues. Undoubtedly so did the other nominees but Thomas was just that slight cut above. Consistency sometimes is the best cure for hot flashes. Reality dictates that Thomas just had too good of a regular season. Who knew his best was yet to come?
Fantasy Vezina — Now the nods get shorter but that does not diminish the significance. We used a bit of a different system in determining our nominees than most. There was an accoutability factored in where the top five goalies and their stats were piled head to head against each other. Numbers were compiled and in the end, we came up with a 1,2, and 3. We expected this to generate some controversy. It always does when one does not quite go with the status quo.
First up was Tim Thomas. His numbers, mentioned above, pretty much speak for themselves. Yes Thomas was benefitted some by the play of Tuukka Rask but then again it is hard to ignore the kind of season that he had. Most starters only play 55-65 games anyway these days. It is just a sign of the times even if traditionalists do not really like it. They forget seasons were not as long in the olden days.
Next up is Henrik Lundqvist and I know we created some waves with this one but please allow us to have the floor for a second. Lundqvist had 11 shutouts in 67 games started (about 1 for every 6) and did post very good numbers on a very average New York Rangers team. The defense while fairly stout is not always all that good to write home about. Yet Lundqvist posted 36 wins, a 2.28 GAA, and a .923 save percentage. There were clearly nights where Lundqvist had to take matters into his own hands as well.
Finally there is Pekka Rinne. All he did was put up some awesome numbers for the Nashville Predators and it was almost like hardly anyone noticed. Rinne tallied 33 wins in 64 games started with a 2.12 GAA, .930 save %, and 6 shutouts. For fantasy hockey fans, he was a great second option yet again though that will likely finally change next year as he really is getting the respect he deserves finally. Rinne definitely took some slings and arrows from some of the press but again not in the fantasy community. There is an expectation of even more next year as Nashville continues to gradually improve.
For our fans out there, we do have a special honorary nominee and that would be Cam Ward. Ward put up some great numbers on a below average Carolina team that failed to meet expectations. There is only so much a goalie can do and when you face an NHL leading 2375 shots and play in 74 games, that is saying something. Ward was still third in the league in wins with 37 and in 20 of his wins faced 35 shots or more which led the league (thanks to Timo Seppa of Hockey Prospectus). If Cam Ward could have played on offense, he probably would have or had a better defense but alas he could not.
Our winner was indeed again Tim Thomas. This was really too easy given the hot start, the fact that he is a class act, and the most important fact that he carried a lot of fantasy teams throughout the year. It is the kind of success that cannot be ignored and that is why we give the nod once again to Mr. Thomas.
Fantasy Breakout — This is another fun little category. Now let’s not confuse this with Fantasy Rookie Of The Year. After all patience is a virtue here. The award is for the player who has a breakout, out of nowhere season (not a rookie). Even more odd, there were no goalies to be had at all. Usually there is always one but not this year.
For this category, we decided to just list the winner and then the nominees. Our winner this year was Claude Giroux of the Philadelphia Flyers. Giroux had 76 points in 82 games after having 47 in 82 last year. That near 30 point jump was too hard not to notice. He pretty much went up in every categories, even PIMS, where he had a slightly surprising 47. The funny thing was his power play numbers dipped a hair (by a whole 2 assists). Imagine how good his season could have been with a modest increase there. As it was, Giroux still has upside going forward but broke out for the Flyers in the 2010-11 season.
Our other nominees included Clarke MacArthur, who always could score in bits and pieces but never could put a full season together. Last year he had 62 points for the Toronto Maple Leafs. He started out at a point a game pace in his first 9 and never really looked back. MacArthur did really surprise and broke out from the pigeon hole in Buffalo.
Lastly there was James Wisniewski who put together a nice season for fantasy owners. Wisniewski broke out to the tune of 51 points splitting time between the Islanders and Canadiens. Yes his -14 was a bit hurtful but most of that was while in Long Island. In Montreal, he had 30 points in 43 games and was a decent +4. A guy that was around 30 points most of his career had quietly eeked out a year where he broke the 50 point plateau which is no small accomplishment for defensemen these days.
Fantasy Turkey — Yes the turkeys are out in full force for their entry this year. We spare the trimmings or the ones that were nominated and just give you the straight turkey and gravy version. Some will even say there is a vindictiveness here but most had this guy pegged at around 50 or 60 points this year. Sure injuries happened but there are ways to go about things and this guy was a Captain for crying out loud and he just stunk up the joint. Too many nights, his vaunted two way game fell apart searching for a way out. Finally he was sent packing, probably six months too late and continued to kind of flounder throughout the second half.
What resulted was a year that had to be a disappointment in so many ways for this Fantasy Turkey Of The Year Jamie Langenbrunner. Who knew at the age of 35, a player could decline like he did almost overnight. Some will say it was because of what happened in New Jersey but how do you explain what happened in Dallas? The bottom line was he was out of shape and in some ways grossly out of hockey shape. It showed on the ice and clearly the 35 and over stigma bit hard.
Other nominees included Daniel Alfredsson, Michael Cammalleri, Scott Gomez, and Steve Mason.
Fantasy Calder — Finally the last award of our little preview has arrived. The nominess for this year’s award are Michael Grabner, Jeff Skinner, Logan Couture, and James Reimer. With careful consideration and much debate (no PHWA writers could protest here), we did come up with a winner.
Grabner, Skinner, and Couture are all very close together with very similar season but Jeff Skinner was picked as our winner because he not only exceled but blew past every obstacle thrown at him. Not only did Skinner have 31 goals and 63 points but he put up 215 shots as a rookie. By the way, he earned his way up the ladder in the lineup as well. The rookie is also only 19 years of age. That is pretty good considering the upside he has ahead of him.
So there you have it. Now it is time for the actual NHL Awards and very brief skinny.
2011 NHL Awards
Vezina Trophy — Tim Thomas. Who else is going to win it after all?
Selke Trophy — Ryan Kesler. This seems like his year to win it.
Lady Byng Trophy — Marty St. Louis. Too good not to take it home.
Calder Trophy — Jeff Skinner. Beats out a congested field.
Norris Trophy — Shea Weber. Wins his first of maybe several.
Masterton Trophy — Ian Laperriere. Too hard to not vote for him.
NHL Foundation Award — Dustin Brown. Underrated with charities.
Jack Adams — Dan Bylsma. Did so much more with way less.
Hart Trophy — Corey Perry. More valuable than the others.
Ted Lindsay Award — Daniel Sedin. Players will not vote for Perry.
Mark Messier Award — Zdeno Chara. Tall guy likes the hardware.
All the other awards are done or to be announced so have fun with the Awards as we will tomorrow night on the podcast. In the meantime, debate away.