A day or two ago, James Mirtle asked who we would nominate from the Hurricanes for each of the major NHL Awards this season. Our "blogger in chief" then compiled each of the selections from all of the SBN Bloggers, and posted them on his site. He now has a list of nominees for all 30 NHL clubs. It's a very interesting read, to say the least.
Cory and I felt that before we discussed the article here at Canes Country, we would prepare the reasoning behind our choices. Surprisingly, we were both on the same page with our picks.
Here were our nominees:
Hart: Ray Whitney
Norris: Joni Pitkanen
Vezina: Cam Ward
Calder: Brandon Sutter
Selke: Eric Staal
This is what Cory had to say about his selections:
Hart: Ray Whitney — When Eric Staal, Rod Brind'Amour and Cam Ward all went through their rough patches this year, there was one constant: the play of Whitney. He's made big and clutch plays all year and has been an important veteran voice through it all. He's also limited his stick infractions this season.
Norris: Joni Pitkanen — This was tough ... you could make an argument for Joe Corvo or Anton Babchuk as well. But no one has put together a more complete, start-to-finish performance as Pitkanen. He rarely makes a dynamic pass or booms a slapshot, but makes the smart play nearly every time and has been way better than advertised in his own end.
Vezina: Cam Ward — He's had arguably the best season in franchise history. Enough said.
Calder: Brandon Sutter — There weren't many choices here, and while Sutter's role diminished to the point he was assigned to the AHL, he still showed flashes of growing into an all-around threat down the road.
Selke: Eric Staal — A part of Staal's game that is often overlooked and constantly improving, his defensive play has been a constant even when he's struggled in the offensive end. While his penalty killing opportunities have been somewhat limited, he's excelled when given the chance. He's an underrated defensive zone player who uses his speed and reach to effectively backcheck and neutralize opponents.
And here is the explanation behind my choices:
Hart: Ray Whitney -- As Cory said, Whitney has been the most consistent player throughout the entire year for the team. He has played on different lines and made others around him better. One of the few natural playmakers on the team, his 50 assists leads the team by a landslide. Plus, he has led the club in total points most of the season. Last but not least, his veteran presence and leadership ability is vital to the dressing room.
Selke: Joni Pitkanen-- Joe Corvo was right up there as well, but I believe Pitkanen has been a bit more consistent in his own end. He leads the team with "time on ice" for good reason, they miss him when he is not out there. His puck handling is grade A and passing is nearly the best on the team. He also is great at breaking up plays coming at him. I believe his partnership with Babchuk has helped the youngster's development. Finally, his (+12) versus Corvo's (+3) makes the decision a bit easier.
Vezina: Cam Ward-- Team record in wins. Career best save percentage and GAA. Nothing else needs to be said.
Calder: Brandon Sutter-- At times earlier in the year, Sutter looked like one of the best players on the ice. Not many choices here, so I will stick with this one.
Selke: Eric Staal-- Staal is usually matched up against the best players in the NHL, night in and night out. He has picked up his intensity in his own end, especially in the second half of the season and is a true force to play against. He is tied for the best plus/minus on the team with (+15). I can't think of a better choice in Carolina.
Do you agree or disagree?