This year the Colorado Avalanche wowed us to a regular season division championship. Players are good bets for three of the NHL's major awards (Calder, Lady Byng, Vezina) and its coach could win a fourth (Jack Adams). Now I really have to ask you, Avalanche fan, why should you give a shit about any of those awards that are weeks away when we have a few of our own to dish out right now?
All this week the Mile High Hockey staff bring you Avalanche player awards, agreed upon (mostly) by the staff writers and offered up for your debate. Enjoy.
Or not. Maybe fun isn't your thing. I don't judge.
Most Likely to Succeed: Nathan MacKinnon
If you're here reading this then you already know everything I'm about to say. The very probable Calder Trophy winner jumped into the league and made an enormous splash. He played in all 82 games for the Avalanche (only Patrick Bordeleau was also able to do this), recording 24 goals and 39 assists (22 of them primary assists). He took more shots on goal than any other Av (the last rookie to do that was obviously Gabriel I Will Shoot This Puck Dammit Landeskog), and more shot attempts too. His 24 goal rookie campaign came on a pedestrian 9.9% shooting percentage. He drew 20 more penalties than he took--only Matt Duchene beat that (+24). Then the playoffs came and he just had ten points in seven games. Ain't no thang.
As we have taken to obnoxiously reminding fans of other teams, he did all of this as an 18 year old. He won't turn 19 til just in time for next season's training camp. And he's already lifting the buzz in the arena every time he touches the puck with his incredible acceleration and ability to play at that speed like it's nothing. We're insanely lucky as Avs fans to get to see his career take off.
Honorable mention: Matt Duchene, who followed up last year's half season at a point a game by putting up 70 points in 71 games. He's pretty okay too and still getting better.
Class Clown: Erik Johnson
I mean come on,
who else can we really
Most Improved - Tyson Barrie
After spending most of the last two seasons either in the press box or riding buses to and from Cleveland, Tyson Barrie emerged as the biggest offensive threat the Avalanche have on the blueline (except maybe Creeping Nick Holden On The Power Play). He led the defensive corps with 13 goals and shared the lead for primary points (goals + primary assists) with Erik Johnson.
He maintained one of the higher batteries of possession stats on the team, which may be bouyed by zone usage somewhat; however he did this with the ahem SEVENTH WORST QUALITY OF TEAMMATES among defenders. 8th if we include one game of Matt Hunwick that I forgot happened. (A November 16 4-1 loss to the Panthers, if you're curious.)
And then this part was just stupid. Of his 13 goals, 3 were in overtime, which leads the team, and 5 were game-winners, behind only Matt Duchene and Ryan O'Reilly's 6 apiece. He was the ice man, a quality D-man, despite playing with a lot of garbage out there.
All stats from Extra Skater, except GWG/OTG, which are from the NHL. I also found while grabbing these numbers that Stefan Elliot took 1 shot on goal with the Avs this season, and it was a good one. 1/1, 100% shooting, ggwp to you Stef.