Ok, we’ll get back to some playoff preview content tomorrow….but for now, a quick fluff piece.
It’s our annual Paper Plate Awards, and we’re leaving some of the nominations to you. So get creative, and leave your ideas in the comments section of this post. The best nominations for the three players will get……drumroll please…..the usual media room cookie treatment! And not just any cookies…..PLAYOFF cookies. Oh yeah.
And now, on with the awards.
2 Teemu Laakso: Lost In The Shuffle Award. When people talk about the great defensemen in the system, they talk about names like Ellis, Josi, and Blum. Meanwhile, Laakso’s season featured a career high in games, goals, assists, points (of course), and he even had a four game goal scoring streak. He was also a +15 defensively, tops among Admiral defensemen. In another system, I think that might be rewarded a bit more.
3 Jon Blum: It’s Not As Hard As It Looks Award. We were all surprised when Jon Blum got the call, but the Preds secured the playoff berth with him in the lineup, and he apparently isn’t making the poor decisions that seemed to be all too frequent this season in Milwaukee. So good for Blummer, and good luck the rest of the way in Nashville.
4 Scott Ford: Tough Guy By Default Award – Because who else was ever going to drop the gloves? He did it 19 times this year. (Kelsey had 15, next was Flynn with 3.) Ford quietly had a pretty good season on defense.
5 Blake Geoffrion: Most Likely To Start Next Season In Milwaukee Award. You’ll get a different opinion on this guy depending on which Roundtable author you ask. I was underwhelmed by his start to the season. He had four great games end of January / early February, which somehow was enough to win AHL Player of the Week twice in a row. Take those four games away, and he’s got 6 goals and 18 assists in 41 games…close to Grant Lewis numbers. He’s a great PR story for Wisconsin and for Nashville, and it’s my opinion that the PR aspect had more sway than his hockey play did when the Preds elected to call him up and keep him up. I think he’ll start the season in Milwaukee next year, and it’ll be interesting to see what kind of attitude he brings back to town.
6 Aaron Johnson: Namesake Of Our Favorite Twitter Running Gag Of The Season Award. Ahhhh, Johnson’s office. Johnson took a lot of minor penalties early in the year, and I came down pretty hard on him early on. I have since come around on the player, but we took his early penalty struggles for a cheap laugh on twitter. Basically, whenever an Admiral gets a penalty, he goes to “Johnson’s office” to do some mundane task like reloading staplers, checking TPS reports for cover sheets, plan the company teambuilding retreat…..stuff like that. It’s probably funnier to us than anybody else, but eh, that’s fine.
7 Brett Palin: Bum Rap Award. His Mo-vember stache has been made fun of. People seem to like to bash him in discussion. He talks to the referees a lot. But he’s the captain. He’s supposed to make the case for his team. He plays a lot of minutes, and frankly, I think he was a pretty good signing for us this season. I feel a lot more confident with Palin on the ice than ‘his Yonk-ness’. Off the ice, he was great in the community, and great with fans. If he re-signed with Nashville this off-season, I would be a fan.
8 Ryan Thang: Mueller-In-Training Award. When Chris Mueller got his first call-up to the Predators, Ryan Thang was the guy that stepped up his game the most. Thang finished the season 3rd on the team in points, and had a team best +17 defensive rating. When Matt Halischuk was called up, Thang got to play on the same line as Mueller and Gabriel Bourque, and that line has paced this team offensively through the last quarter of the season.
10 Ryan Flynn – Most Likely To Be Confused For A Backup Quarterback Award. Our friend Matt Moore accidentally referred to him as Matt Flynn a couple of times during an intermission interview. Matt felt pretty bad about it, but is able to laugh about it now. Which is good, because it’s pretty hilarious.
11 Mark Santorelli: (Leave your nomination in the comments section)
12 Andreas Thuresson: Sahara Desert Award. Now THAT was a drought. Thuresson scored a goal October 24th against Chicago. January 6th, he scored his next goal. He’s been playing better the last two months, and averaged almost a point per game in March.
17 Kelsey Wilson (Leave your nomination in the comments section)
18 Chris Mueller: Most Valuable Player Award. Now THIS is a feel good story. He played his way to an NHL contract. The first blip on the radar screen happened during the two games in Lake Erie during the 10 game road trip in November. Four goals and an assist, a couple of shorties, and a couple of game winners. Since then, he has meant more to the offense of this team than any other player on the roster. The Bourque- Mueller – Halischuk line was probably our favorite combination of the year, and since Halischuk departed for Nashville, Mueller and Bourque have continued to be a great pair on the first line.
19 Gabriel Bourque: Most Improved Player Award. Speed, tenacity, and now, scoring! Bourque started to find the scoring touch in February, and is now third on the team in goals scored this year, with 18. With a great work ethic and some great tools, he’s a pretty good hockey player right now….and he’s only 20 years old. He’s going to be even better, and it’ll be a treat for us to watch his development.
20 Mike Bartlett: Least Likely To Have His Own Bobblehead Award. Guys like him don’t get the glory. It’s the fighters and the scorers. But Bartlett is just the kind of guy that Coach loves having on the team. He’s got the work ethic and the energy, and for awhile there, that line of Flynn – Bartlett – Hunter was playing very well together. The stats won’t say it, but he had a solid year on a 3rd/4th line.
21 Jamie Lundmark: Addition By Subtraction Award. He quit on his team, which I think is the most selfish thing an athlete can do in a team sport. But in the end, it made the Admirals a better team, so I guess we should be thankful? He quit so that he could go play 18 games for a team in Sweden, and bring his family along. They didn’t make the playoffs, so the vacation has been over since early March. They’re back in the US now, and according to Jamie’s twitter page, he doesn’t know what the plan is for next year. If some team calls Coach Lambert asking for a reference, I hope Lane doesn’t mince words.
22 Steve Begin: WebMD Award. A bit injury prone, but a great guy to have in the locker room, and a great guy to talk about hockey with. He didn’t have as much of an impact on the scoresheet as I had hoped for, but he has still been an asset to the team.
24 Matt Halischuk: Put Me In, Coach Award. He had a five game points streak before the Preds were shutout in the last game of the regular season. Same amount of games, he has the same number of points as big trade acquisition Mike Fisher. He’s playing well, just like he did in Milwaukee. I’m still hoping that we’ll see him with the Admirals for the playoff run, but I’m not holding my breath.
25 Grant Lewis: Best Things Come To Those Who Wait Award. Lewie was on the short end of a numbers game for most of the first half of the season. Three other defensemen had letters on the front of their jerseys, and three other defensemen were Preds draft picks. Lewis only played four games in November, and three games in January. But he was a great asset whenever one of the other defenders needed a night off due to injury, or if coach elected to go with seven defensemen for a game. And then Jon Blum was recalled, and Lewis has been an everyday player since. He has more physicality to his game than Blum did, and ended up being just as valuable on the power play in Blum’s absence. Lewis is one of the unsung heroes for this team.
29 Mark Van Guilder: The Largest Strides Award. Scoreless in 28 games last season, Van Guilder was a key player on this year’s roster to the point that it was noticeable when he wasn’t on the ice. I don’t have face-off statistics, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he was statistically the best on face-offs for the team. Responsible on both ends of the ice, Van Guilder more than earned his paychecks this year.
30 Jeremy Smith: Red Green Award. Ready and able in every role he’s been asked to play. Kind of a handy-man in that way. Started the season in Cincy. Changed places with Chet. And when the keys were given to him during Mark Dekanich’s recalls and injuries, Smith has delivered and kept things together…without the need for duct tape.
31 Mark Dekanich: Best Nickname Award. So this year, we haven’t tried to give players very many nicknames. We used to do that at the old blog, with a mixed bag of results. But on twitter, this is the nickname that stuck the most this year: Mark “I just bailed you out AGAIN” Dekanich. He even re-tweeted it once. Which is kind of weird, that a player has any idea who the hell we are….but we think that summarizes the impact he had on the team this year. He stole some games for the Admirals.
32 Dylan Hunter: Your Dad Was One Of My Favorite Players Growing Up Award. Had hoped to bump into Dale at the Bradley Center at some point. Hasn’t happened yet.
33 Roman Josi. Highest Ceiling Award. I think he’ll be a better defenseman than Jon Blum in the end. I think he’s wearing down a little bit right now, as he’s never played this many games in a season previously… but his adjustment to the North American game has been seamless. Remember the point-scoring streak? He can be a dynamic two-way player, and I selfishly hope we’ll get to see some more of him next season.
86 Linus Klasen (Leave your nomination in the comments section)