While the Carolina Hurricanes 2009-10 NHL season fell short of the expectations we brought to the table back in October, that doesn’t mean there weren’t many bright spots for the players and fans this season. Canes Country thought we’d look back at some individuals whose performances were exemplary, and whose efforts and skill inspired us to keep watching. Using the traditional team and annual NHL Awards as a guide, Cory, Bob and I have each nominated a player from the Carolina roster for nine of these awards. Over the next week, we will ask you, our insightful readers, to vote for and tell us why you think one Hurricane player deserves our recognition for a job well done
The Calder Trophy
What is it?
The Calder Memorial Trophy is an annual award given to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition in the National Hockey League. The winner is selected in a poll of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association at the end of the regular season. In layman's terms, "Rookie of the Year".
Who received the Calder over the last 3 years?
And the nominees are:
Bob nominates: Brett Carson.
Brett Carson had a spectacular year, but in unspectacular fashion. Does that make any sense? Well, check out his numbers, which are considerably better than vets Aaron Ward and Niclas Wallin when they were in Raleigh. Then, take into consideration that Carson is a rookie.
|2009 - Brett Carson||54||2||10||12||5||12||0||0||0||0||42||4.8|
|2009 - Aaron Ward||60||1||10||11||-17||54
|2009 - Niclas Wallin||47||0||5||5||-5||26||0||0||0||0||72||0.0|
Each of the skaters averaged about 17 minutes of TOI per game. While Ward and Wallin skated against tougher competition, Carson is the prototype shut down "D" and performed as well as you can ask a rookie to play in the third pairing on defense. He did not seem to make many glaring mistakes in his own end and was physical when he needed to be.
Usually, when you don't notice a defenseman, that means he is doing his job. Brett Carson did his job this past season.
Cory Lavalette nominates: Bryan Rodney
We've been trying to pick different players for each of the awards, and while I've nominated Bryan Rodney, there's no way, in good conscience, I could pick him over Carson or Boychuk. Still, here's what Rodney's done.
|2009 - Bryan Rodney||22||1||10||11||-4||8||0||0||0||0||24||4.2|
|2009 - Zach Boychuk||31||3||6||9||1||2||0||0||0||0||37||8.1|
With 31 games this year, twenty-year-old Zach Boychuk stayed long enough this last call up that we got to know him. And watching him out there on the big stage, we never doubted his desire to make an impression. His reputation in Juniors as a phenomenal scoring sniper hasn’t yet translated to the NHL stage. (If you haven't seen his bio and stats, click on this link. He was the 8th ranked prospect in 2008.) Still, we can see determination, hustle, and his love of the game in every shift. I'll be watching his production in Albany's playoffs (starting tonight) to see how his newly acquired knowledge and improved strength and skills work against opponents who aren’t quite so big and fast and wily. We might reasonably project that this summer will be the same magic season of growth for Boychuk as it was for this former Albany roommate Brandon Sutter in 2009.
More than anything, I’m nominating Boychuk for the Canes Country Calder for his self-deprecating confidence (I don’t think that’s an oxymoron?) exemplified so well by that delightful moment during the first intermission at Pittsburgh in March. You remember: when he interrupted Tripp Tracy, to correct Tripp’s errantly stating Boychuk was selected fifteenth overall in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, "Fourteenth"…….Tripp continues: "yada yada"…more forcefully, still polite and with an earnest grin: "I was picked fourteenth". Of course, he was right.