What if all the major NHL league-wide awards were won by Flyers? Who would take home the hardware? Led by our fearless leader, James Mirtle over at From the Rink, the SB Nation hockey writers have been discussing which players from each team are most worthy of taking home each award. There's a master list of every pick from around SBN over on Mirtle's site. You can also head over to each site to see the individual arguments for each writer's picks.
My picks for the Flyers are as follows.
Hart Memorial Trophy
presented annually to the player most valuable to his team
#17 / Center / Philadelphia Flyers
Jan 01, 1985
|2008 - Jeff Carter||78||44||36||80||23||66||12||4||11||0||331||13.3|
If you take Jeff Carter's 44 goals out of this lineup, you've got a team that has just one more goal scored this season than the Ottawa Senators. But, of course, you could say the same about any of the Flyers four 30-goal scorers. Take any of them out of the lineup, and this team could be seriously scoring.
But the thing with Carter is his timely scoring. He's got 11 game-winning goals. The next closest to him is Mike Knuble who only has six. Carter also has 12 power play goals, tied for most on the team. He plays in all situations and scores in all situations.
Does Carter have the same leadership role as Mike Richards? No, he doesn't. He doesn't bring that to the table. But what sets Carter and Richards apart this season is the fact that, for seemingly long stretches of the year, Richie has been invisible. He is a great captain, don't get me wrong, but Carter has been much more consistent a player over the course of the year.
James Norris Memorial Trophy
presented annually to the defensive player who shows the greatest all-around ability at his position
#44 / Defenseman / Philadelphia Flyers
Mar 18, 1975
|2008 - Kimmo Timonen||73||3||39||42||20||52||2||0||0||0||93||3.2|
Is there really a contest for the best all-around defenseman on the Flyers? Kimmo Timonen is probably the smartest hockey player on the team, let along on the defense. He does absolutely everything there is to do, and he consistently does it right. Not to mention he's always going toe-to-toe with the best players the opposition has to offer.
Kimmo is a guiding force for the defense. It's scary to think of the unit without him on it. I've always looked at defensemen as such: if you don't notice them on the ice over the course of a game, they're doing their job right. The only time you notice Kimmo during a game is when he's assisted on a goal. I don't see how any other Flyer could take home the Norris.
After the jump, the Vezina, Calder, and Selke Trophies are presented.
Vezina Memorial Trophy
presented annually to the goaltender judged to be top at his position
#43 / Goalie / Philadelphia Flyers
Aug 15, 1977
|2008 - Martin Biron||51||2939||27||17||5||2||137||2.80||1594||1457||.914||2|
Of course, Martin Biron won't be winning the actual Vezina this season. But when it comes to the best goaltender on the Flyers, the fact that Martin Biron has been handed the workload down the stretch of the season proves that he is the top guy. His stats are virtually identical to those of Antero Niittymaki, but Biron has been the more consistent of the two guys during the most important stretch of the season.
There was a time when I thought Niittymaki deserved his shot at starting role. As I wrote back on February 11:
But his success this season has been virtually overlooked by the concern that Niittymaki has always been inconsistent. He's always been a guy that could get hot for stretches, but would eventually come back to earth. The Flyers have seemingly been waiting for him to come back to earth all season long, but that hasn't happened, and there are no signs that it will happen.
Go figure, the day after that was published, Niittymaki gave up five goals in a loss to Ottawa. He's gone 2-4-2 since, proving that whether there were signs of it or not, his inconsistency continues to plague him. Biron has had an inconsistent season as well, but there is no arguing that he has given his team a pretty darn good chance to win in just about every game down the stretch.
Calder Memorial Trophy
presented annually to the most outstanding rookie
#28 / Right Wing / Philadelphia Flyers
Jan 12, 1988
|2008 - Claude Giroux||38||8||18||26||9||12||2||0||0||0||63||12.7|
Since arriving in the NHL for good around Christmas time, Claude Giroux has quite possibly been the most surprising player Philadelphia has seen in recent memory. He's been sensational at every level of hockey in his 21 years of life, and he hasn't let the world's biggest hockey stage slow him down.
His on-ice vision has been the more impressive part of his repertoire, resulting in dazzling set up passes that leave us awe struck. He's drawn comparisons to Peter Forsberg for his brilliant playmaking ability, and he's getting better every single game.
When it comes to competiton, there really are no other rookies on the Flyers to challenge him. There's Ryan Parent, who's been very impressive on defense since returning from an injury that caused him to miss the first two months of the season. But he's also been playing with Kimmo Timonen all year long.
Giroux has made even the most inept offensive players on the Flyers look like superstars on several occasions this year, and 13 of his 26 points thus far have come with one or more of Arron Asham, Daniel Carcillo, or Darroll Powe on his wing.
If he were to have played a full season in the NHL, I firmly believe Giroux would've been in the running for the Calder league-wide. Is there really any doubt that he's been the Flyers best rookie?
Frank J. Selke Trophy
presented annually to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game
#18 / Center / Philadelphia Flyers
Feb 11, 1985
|2008 - Mike Richards||75||30||48||78||24||61||8||7||4||0||221||13.6|
There's one award on this list that a Flyer actually has a chance to win, and that's the Captain taking home the Selke. He's a plus-23 on the season which is good for top 10 in the league among forwards. But what makes Richards' Selke resume so impressive is the fact that he is the top penalty killer on the league's most penalized team.
He is a major reason that the Flyers are 10th in the league on the penalty kill, despite an absolutely unbelievable average of 18 penalty minutes per game. His seven shorthanded goals are, quite frankly, completely absurd, especially when you remember that
three two (thanks, commenters) of them came on five-on-threes.
So what do you think? What would you change?