As the NHL season comes to a close, we are going to vote on the NHL Awards, and four of us will pick one candidate each to “campaign” for. At the bottom, you will see balloting and the final results.
Logan Couture, C, San Jose Sharks by Cujo
Logan Couture deserves the Calder trophy, the kid is just flat out amazing. Former team captain Patrick Marleau said himself that Logan is talented offensively, and defensively, which would explain his numbers. He leads the team in +/-, he is second in goals on the team only behind Marleau, and also 2nd in game winning goals for the team. This is a team with Dany Heatley and Joe Thornton who by all means Couture should be setting up for goals (not that he is bad at that with 23 assists on the year), but he is proving he has what it takes to put the puck in the net, and help to keep it out of his own.
As the season opened, the defending Cup Champions were looking to fill the hole of the departed Antti Niemi with Marty Turco. However, Turco’s starting job was taken over by rookie Corey Crawford. Crawford has filled Niemi’s void nicely. In 54 games, Crawford’s won 31 games (good for 13th in the NHL), posted a 2.26 GAA (6th) and 91.9% save percentage (13th). He’s also posted four shutouts this season. While the team has struggled, Crawford has kept the Blackhawks in the playoff race.
Michael Grabner, RW, New York Islanders by Gabbi
When looking at this years crop of Calder nominees, it’s amazing to see how talented the future of the NHL is looking. So out of big names like Couture, Skinner and Fowler why go with the seemingly obscure Michael Grabner? On a team of young studs he leads the team in goals (33) and was fourth in points (50) in 74 games. This all after a summer where he was traded from his draft team from Vancouver to Florida, where he was subsequently waived from. The twenty three year old’s placement in the NHL was questionable at best, until he (and his silky mitts) found a niche on Long Island. He’s now a pivotal piece of the puzzle for the young Islanders core. Strange coming from the mouth of a Rangers fan, but this Austria native should be the next Calder trophy winner!
Jeff Skinner, C, Carolina Hurricanes by Joey
As if you need any more reasons why Jeff Skinner should be the Rookie of the Year besides his surname conjuring up images of an early 90s wrestling superstar (that’s Vince’s word not mine), I suppose I should continue to tip your scales. Skinner, by far, the youngest of the most viable ROY candidates being 18 until late in the conference finals and not only that, is also the most consistent having 30 goals and 29 assists as of this writing. I also venture that Skinner has done the most with the least. Outside of having Eric Staal as a teammate, Skinner is surrounded by a handful of solid but not quite venerable teammates. Which I feel is less to work with than the budding forwards in Long Island like Tavares, Okposo, Moulson, and the like. Vote young, vote Skinner. And perhaps Jeff will celebrate with a skulleted homage to Crocodile Dundee…ok maybe not.
Logan Couture 23 (5-3-2)
Jeff Skinner 22 (4-4-2)
Michael Grabner 9 (1-2-2)
Corey Crawford 2 (0-0-2)
Sergei Bobrovsky 2 (0-1-0)
John Carlson 1 (0-0-1)
Taylor Hall 1 (0-0-1)
(votes cast by the Bos, Cbj, NJ, NYR, Phi, Pit, SJ chapters of the CSHWA)