All this week the Mile High Hockey staff are bringing you completely random player awards. If you're looking for grades, go back to class.
Mr. Reliable: Matt Duchene
This season there was one guy the Avalanche could count on. When the year began, Duchene was just scoring goals at an obscene rate. Percentages being what they are, he cooled off when the three-month snowstorm started, so naturally the points dried up right?
Duchene went some mumbleteen games without scoring a goal. He still finished the season with a point per game (if you don't count that game where he knocked knees with Fatty on the first shift, which I don't, that's bollocks). He did that by continuing to put together assists. We're talking primary assists. He had 31 of them. During the 23 game stretch in which he only had a single goal, he still potted 17 assists. Talk about elevating your linemates.
Dutchy was good for a point every game in [__]-2013, and he was good for the same in 2013-2014. Safe to say the real Matt Duchene has stood up. Need a goal? He gotcha. Oh but he's on a cold streak? He'll set up somebody.
Most Likely to Get PAID
This category is tough. Not because of the winner, really, but simply to name it. Most Likely to Become a Millionaire is irrelevant. Most Likely to Get Overpaid doesn't quite capture it. Most Likely to Regress is too broad and negative for my liking. So, with honorable mention to Paul Stastny, let's just all-caps PAID and give the thing to Ryan O'Reilly.
O'Reilly has proven to be a hard-line negotiator in past seasons, even going so far as to sign a two-year deal with this year's Gagarin Cup champion Metallurg Magnitogorsk during the lockout. So why wouldn't he point to where he is in his development curve, and his ever-increasing goal total, and his play in the neutral zone, and just open up his wallet in front of a Brinks truck?
I'm glad you asked. That is a screenshot from hockey-reference.com of Ryan O'Reilly's career numbers. Hello shooting percentage. Either this guy suddenly figured out how to shoot like Jordan Eberle and Sidney Crosby, or he's bargaining for the most expensive stat--goals--right before the percentages predict he will take a little tumble next season.
I really want the Avalanche to be smart. Guys who score 30 goals by the time they're 23 make serious money. Guys who reliably score 20, which is more in line with O'Reilly's career percentage and shot totals, are not the ones you pay that kind of cash. But his QO alone will be just flirting with the edge of 30-goal scorer land and this team extended a cartoon bear for three years based on some magic beans, so who knows.
I adore Ryan O'Reilly's game, he's an outstanding player and a valuable member of this team that cannot be lost; but I'm really afraid that within four years, he's the worst contract on the books here in Colorado based on completely predictable dips in percentages. In conclusion, there's a scarily good chance that rather than getting paid, Radar gets PAID.
Most Likely to Win an Oscar: Max Talbot
Let's take a look at his recent filmography for research purposes.
Were you guys convinced? I was so convinced. I dunno. Maybe when he lost his balance on that chest punch he bit his lip on the way down or something.
(Talbot was an excellent pickup, I totally ate crow on the Downie trade, but, el oh el at this one.)