With the Carolina Hurricanes season coming to an end on Saturday, it’s time to hand out the end-of-season awards:
Most Valuable Player: Eric Staal – Staal led the team through the rough times and the good times. Even when the team wasn’t winning, he put in as much effort as he could. The oldest Staal brother finished with 53 points in 48 games, good for sixth in the league, cementing himself with the other stars in the NHL. Other Nominees: Justin Faulk and Cam Ward.
Best Defenseman: Justin Faulk – When Faulk missed time with a knee injury, it showed how much of an impact he makes on the Hurricanes’ team. Faulk creates the Hurricanes’ transition game, plays the quarterback on the power-play and gets the job done in his own end. Faulk may be just as important as Eric Staal to the Canes team. Other Nominees: Joni Pitkanen and Tim Gleason.
Best Goaltender (Between Justin Peters and Dan Ellis): Justin Peters – Obviously Cam Ward would win this award, but having the award between Peters and Ellis will make it more interesting. Ellis had a strong start to the season, but faltered a bit in March and April when he was thrust into the starting role. Peters had trouble also, but he recovered, playing stronger near the end of the season earning a few wins for the falling Hurricanes.
Comeback Player: Alexander Semin – He may not have been on the team last year, but Semin still rebounded from a mediocre year. In the 2011-12 season, the Russian forward only scored 54 points. This season he recorded 44 in 33 less games. Semin also helped Eric Staal rebound and gained recognition for his play in the defensive end, that was previously thought as non-existent. Other Nominees: Eric Staal and Justin Peters.
Breakout Player: Jiri Tlusty – This is an obvious one. Tlusty surprised everyone with his play this year. He scored 23 goals and was tied for fifth for goals in the NHL. Last season Tlusty began to show more skill towards the end of the season, but this year the left-winger took control of the Carolina offense and helped create one of the best lines in the NHL. Other Nominees: Jay Harrison and Bobby Sanguinetti.
Most Disappointing Player: Jamie McBain – It seems to be a problem every season for McBain. The coaching staff expects more from him, but he fails to take the next step. This season the American defenseman had the chance to replace Faulk on the power-play and improve the Hurricanes’ puck-moving on defense, but failed to do so. Rumors began to swirl that GM Jim Rutherford was attempting to move McBain at the trade deadline and it’s understandable given the frustration McBain has caused the team. Other Nominees: Jeff Skinner and Chad LaRose.