Yes, guys were called back up. Yes, Austin Watson scored his first NHL goal. Yes, Josh Shalla was sent to Cincy. It’s all true. It’s more action than we’re used to seeing the week after the season ends and before the playoffs begin.
Usually, this is where we throw in a fluff piece before previewing the upcoming series. And this year will be no different. It’s time for the 2012-13 Paper Plate Awards. Where we take a moment to recall the good times, the bad times, and the odd times of the regular season. We’ve got most of the players….a few were left out either due to small sample sizes, or lack of easy jokes to make about them.
Again this year, we’ve left a few of the awards up to you, so leave your nominations in the comments section for Liambas, Mueller, and Moore.
2 Anthony Bitetto – Man Of The Year Runner Up Award – Mark Van Guilder won it, but Bitetto had to be the runner up. He’s great with fans, great with the community, and he raised money for Hurricane Sandy relief for his home town. I think he might have had a better chance to win Man Of Year Award if he wasn’t a stinkin’ Yankee fan….
4 Scott Ford – PLEASE Get Me Out Of Peoria Award – The Rivermen scratched their captain because there were too many veterans on the roster. His first game back with the Admirals was on February 21st….it was only his second game since January 24th. He’s still got some gas in the tank, and is it just a coincidence that the Admirals went on this great late season run shortly after he arrived?
6 Ryan Ellis – Bear Market Award – I’ve been really sad to see the Nashville faithful turn on Ellis this year. They were so excited when he was first called up. Now they say he’s too small….a power play specialist…. I haven’t seen very many of the Preds games this season, but I’ve seen a lot of the Milwaukee games. Ellis has been very good down here. I think he’s still got a future on the blue line in Nashville.
7 Jon Blum – Reputation Preceeds Him Award – Tough crowd here at the Roundtable sometimes. I don’t think he deserved ALL of the scrutiny that readers threw his way early in the year. Some of it, sure, based on some plays. But I think when he was here early in the season, he had a bit of a bum rap, despite playing some decent hockey. We’re happy for his success.
8 Mike Liambas – Reader submission
10 Patrick Cehlin – Griffin & Checker Killer Award – Seven of his nine goals were against the Grand Rapids Griffins or the Charlotte Checkers.
11 Brad Winchester – Good Omen Award – The Admirals don’t lose in regulation when he scores a goal. 8-0-1-0 record this season. Memo to his linemates: feed him.
12 Mattias Ekholm – Most Improved Defender – At the start of the year, it was a little rough at times. But as the season has progressed, Ekholm became one of the most dependable defensemen on both ends of the ice. Great on the power play, and staying within the system in the defensive zone. And by the time he was called up to Nashville, he had definitely earned it. He’s got a bright future in the organization.
15 Kevin Henderson – Unsung Hero Award – He’s not flashy…he just works hard and delivers. Good for 17 goals, and he played on the shutdown line with Van Guilder and Latta for most of the year. Thrilled that he got a goal in his NHL debut. He was very quietly, one of the most essential pieces to Milwaukee’s success this year.
16 Ben Ryan – No seriously, take my number. Please. Award – Ben Ryan was #16. And then he suffered a *cough* upper body injury *cough*. And he hasn’t played since. But his jersey has. #16 – Craig Smith, Paul Crowder. Just don’t tell Jon Blum that Ryan is sporting #7 on the AHL website these days.
17 Michael Latta – Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow Award – I could figuratively hear people’s hearts breaking when the news came down the pipeline that Latta was part of the deal that brought Filip Forsberg to Nashville. From his play to his personality (and his history of leaving the penalty box area without his jersey on), it’s easy to see why he was a fan favorite, and easy to see why he is so missed. His game took a big leap forward this year, and we wish him the best with the Caps.
17 Zach Hamill – The Gee, Thanks Florida Award – A former 8th overall draft pick of the Bruins, the Florida Panthers organization preferred to loan him to Milwaukee than give him minutes in San Antonio. But they didn’t seem to have a problem with Nolan Yonkman’s league worst -34 defensive rating. No matter. In 6 regular season games with us, Hamill had three goals and an assist. We’ll take it.
18 Chris Mueller – Reader submission
19 Gabriel Bourque – Most Likely To Lead The Predators In Goals – Didn’t see that coming. Good for him, but wow….even now that he’s missed a bunch of games at the end of the season, he’s STILL on top. Amazing. (edit: Legwand scored tonight….but I’m not re-writing this!)
20 Daniel Bang – Most Likely To Have Intense Debates About How To Pronounce His Last Name Award – Bang or Bong? Potato. Po-tot-o. Depends on who you ask, and what continent you’re on. If you ask Daniel, in North America, he says Bang. Not sure what there is to debate.
21 Mike Moore – Reader submission
22 Scott Valentine – Mr. Versatility Award – He played really well at forward when pressed into duty there, and scored some huge goals from the forward position down the stretch.
24 Jani Lajunen – The Invisible Man Award – It’s like he was never here.
25 Josh Shalla – Not In Kansas Anymore Award – 76 points in 53 games for Saginaw in the OHL last year. Points were a little tougher to come by in the AHL. He had a good line in Cincy — 21 goals in 37 games in pretty great, and we’re happy that he’s playing his best AHL hockey of the year lately too. Don’t know if we should expect those sick junior numbers next season, but I’m optimistic that he’ll continue to improve.
28 Jack MacLellan – Master Electrician Award – For his role in the Virtual Aspects promo. “Let them decide the system that’s right for you, and right within your budget!”
29 Mark Van Guilder – Keeps Getting Better Award – The counting stats keep going up every year, and he’s turned into a great leader for this team. The Admirals Man-of-the-year again. I hope that this off-season is the one where he gets that NHL deal.
30 Jeremy Smith – Dexshow Award – Seems like it was just two years ago that a freak injury ended the season of a goalie, and then the other guy assumed control of the wheel and took the team on a nice playoff run.
36 Joonas Jarvinen – Junk Yard Dog Award – Coach said he needed to play like a junk yard dog to be effective, and he turned into one of the most physical players on the team. But there’s still a fine line between playing physical and getting called for a lot of minor penalties. The penalty kill has been good late in the season, despite his frequent parades to the box.
37 Zoltan Hetenyi – Most Likely To Spend A Night In the Gwinnett County Jail Award – Yeah, that was a mistake.
41 Taylor Beck – Easier Than It Looks Award – The interweb seems to be gushing about Taylor Beck’s performance in the NHL after his callup. He amassed points in Milwaukee, but was subject to some inconsistent play. Maybe there’s just too much time to think in the AHL. Take away that, and Beck has the instincts and smarts to be successful up there. Good for him.
43 Cam Reid – The Little Things Award – A Nashville draft pick that never signed…and then ended up with the Admirals anyway. A PTO that turned into an SPC contract, Reid has played on different lines, in different situations, and has done a lot of the little things to earn the trust of the coaching staff.
45 Magnus Hellberg – Most Valuable Player – It’s been great watching Hellberg’s game evolve over the course of the year. In the beginning, he looked more like Chet Pickard than Pekka Rinne, letting in some softies. Then he lost six in a row from December 11th through January 20th, as the Admirals just couldn’t score in those games. And then something started to click. He won six in a row in February. He became the hot hand, and then when Jeremy Smith was injured in the game against Rockford March 29th, it was Hellberg’s show the rest of the way. He won 7 of his last 8 games, and capped the season with a pair of shutouts on consecutive nights. Magnus has sported a goals against average under two in each of the last three months. Lots of credit of course goes his defense…but more often than not down the stretch, when the Admirals needed a big save, they got it from Hellberg. Another feather in the cap of Mitch and Ben.
47 Joe Piskula – Unsung Addition Award – McGrattan for Piskula? We won that trade. I’m sure he has made mistakes in the 23 games that he’s been here, but I don’t ever remember ever thinking, “Oh man, that goal is totally on Piskula.” A veteran stay-at-home defenseman that doesn’t make mistakes that end up in the back of our net? Priceless.
51 Austin Watson – Most Web Savvy Fan Club – Every year, someone’s fan club comes out in droves and makes their presence known. Last year, it was the Ryan Ellis fan club. This year, it was the Austin Watson fan club. With family and friends on twitter and commenting on various blogs around town, they were certainly well connected to how their boy was doing. Some of them were a bit rowdy at times…but we thank them for reading.
64 Victor Bartley – Most Likely To Go Viral – Say what you want about the Gangnam Style phenomenon….but the Victor Bartley video? It was pretty awesome. I almost made his award the best supporting actor award, because obviously, trainer Doug Agnew was the REAL star. AM I RIGHT?
71 Juuso Puustinen – Undisputed Swamp Soccer Champion – If you ever get the chance to talk to Juuso, ask him about his glory days playing swamp soccer. Great stories.
And that’s the end! Thanks for reading.