The Carolina Hurricanes season ended on Sunday with a shootout win over the Philadelphia Flyers, and while playoffs won’t be played in Raleigh, there is still a bunch of discuss, and one of those things are team awards.
Here at Cardiac Cane, staff writer Brett Finger and I gave our own winners on seven different categories.
Let us know what you think of each of the choices!
Most Valuable Player
Wes’s Pick: Anton Khudobin
Remember at the end of January when it looked like the Hurricanes could make the playoffs? Most of that was due to Khudobin, who posted a 10-4 record during the month. It may have not resulted in the postseason, but without Khudobin, that chance never would have existed. His presence also helped the team overcome the loss of Cam Ward, which was a huge problem last season.
Brett’s Pick: Anton Khudobin
While Khudobin may not be the best player on the Carolina Hurricanes, MVP stands for Most Valuable Player, and Doby was certainly a valuable player for the team. Anton Khudobin kept this team in the playoff hunt through the second half of the season while the team in front of him went into self destruct mode. Anton Khudobin set a franchise record with a .926 save percentage. He was also the only Hurricanes goalie to finish with a positive record. He went 19-14-1.
Wes’s Pick: Jeff Skinner
No real competition here. Skinner had his best season since his rookie year, scoring 33 goals, a career high, and good for 11th in the league. His play at the beginning of the season, gave the team hope of late-season success, but unfortunately, an injury hurt that hope. Had he played the 11 games, he missed, he would have had an outside chance at 40 goals.
Brett’s Pick: Jeff Skinner
The 21-year-old set a new career high in goals with 33 this season. He took big steps forward this year coming off an injury plagued last couple of seasons. Not only did he produce offense at a very good rate, he improved dramatically on his two-way game. His 54 points in 71 games was not groundbreaking, but it is pretty impressive considering he played with a plethora of players on many different lines. He proved to be THE guy when it came to scoring big time goals for the team.
Wes’s Pick: Andrej Sekera
Without Sekera, I don’t want to imagine what this Hurricanes team would look like. He did everything, including scoring goals and playing against other team’s top opponents. Justin Faulk will always be the biggest name on the Canes’ blueline, but the things Sekera did this season will outweigh what Faulk did.
Brett’s Pick: Andrej Sekera
When the Carolina Hurricanes acquired Andrej Sekera for Jamie McBain and a second round draft pick back in the 2013 NHL Draft, no one expected him to score more than 40 points and be the best all-around player on the team, but that is what he has turned in to. He was a very solid defenseman for the Carolina Hurricanes, and he proved to be capable of handling a top-two defensive role, manning the point on the power play, and killing penalties.
Wes’s Pick: Jiri Tlusty
I don’t think anyone expected Tlusty to keep up with last year’s ridiculous pace, but something better than 16 goals should have been expected. His slow start affected the play of Eric Staal and Alexander Semin, which hurt the team’s offense that relied on the line all of the 2012-13 season. He played better in the second half of the season, but by then, it was too late.
Brett’s Pick: Eric Staal
Usually a team’s top scorer would not be the biggest disappointment, but Eric Staal had his worst statistical season since his rookie season in the 2003-2004 season. Coming off of a great year in the 2013 shortened season, Eric Staal had high expectations, and he did not come close to meeting them. There were too many times this season where he was completely unnoticeable, and that is unacceptable. Eric Staal needs to score at a higher level and put more effort into his game before the Carolina Hurricanes can make it to the next level. The Canes go as Eric Staal goes. Eric Staal went at a slow pace this year, and so did the team.
Most Pleasant Surprise
Wes’s Pick: Nathan Gerbe
Before the season, I had Aaron Palushaj making the team over the former Buffalo Sabre, but Gerbe was obviously the player that deserved the roster spot, and that was evident almost right away. He finished the season with 16 goals, and while that’s not an astounding number, consider he was bought out, then signed to a $550,000 contract, and that impact becomes even more astonishing.
Brett’s Pick: Nathan Gerbe
Nathan Gerbe was signed by the Carolina Hurricanes last summer for the league minimum of 550,00. Gerbe played in the Carolina Hurricanes top-six forward group for most of the season, and he made a good impact. He finished seventh on the team in points with 31, and managed to get over 15 goals this season. He was a popular member on the Canes’ power play as well. It was great to see his hard work pay off for him this season. He was the Canes’ hardest worker this season.
Wes’s Pick: Brett Bellemore
Bellemore may be a bottom-pairing defenseman on other teams, but on the Hurricanes, he’s a top-four d-man, and most nights he played like one. He made Tim Gleason expandable and played better than over half of the Canes’ d-men last season, plus formed a good pairing with Ron Hainsey. Simply, Bellemore deserves more credit than he receives.
Brett’s Pick: Ron Hainsey
Ron Hainsey was brought in to fill the role of Joni Pitkanen in the top-four. He overachieved with the Canes this season. He came in and took on the whole situation like a pro. He was a great veteran presence for a pretty young team, and he played many roles very well. He played well in the top-four with various linemates, he played a big part in the maturation of Brett Bellemore, and played very well on the penalty kill. He represented his team well, and he defended himself and his teammates at the right times.
Best In-Season Acquisition
Wes’s Pick: Manny Malhotra
Malhotra was signed during the season, and brought a veteran presence that was missing in the bottom six, save Radek Dvorak. He was amazing on face-offs and helped Eric and Jordan Staal in that department also. He was used in the wrong role as a third-line center, but when he was on the fourth line, he was used perfectly. The effect Malhotra had on this team will show even more in the future, whether he’s in Raleigh or not.
Brett’s Pick: Andrei Loktionov
Andrei Loktionov got off to a slow start with his new team after he was traded to the Canes from New Jersey, but once he got settled in, he started to make a very positive impact on the offense. He played a lot of first line time with Eric Staal, and he was a great power play man for the team. He played very well as a man along the half-wall on the man advantage, and he was able to improve the Canes power play in the process. Two of his three goals with the Canes came on the power play. He played 20 games with the Carolina Hurricanes this season. Eric Staal played 78 games with the Canes this year, and he had just one power play goal.