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Barry Ashbee Trophy 2016: Who's been the Flyers' best defenseman this season?

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Our annual look at the Flyers' season-ending awards begins with the question of who's been their best defenseman this season.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

There's been a lot of buzz surrounding the Flyers in recent weeks, and I can only assume that it has to do with the fact that the Flyers will be handing out their end-of-season awards prior to this Thursday's game against the Toronto Maple Leafs! How exciting!

(This may not actually be why there is a lot of buzz surrounding the Flyers right now.)

In any case, these awards will in fact be given out before tomorrow night's game, so as we usually do, we here at Broad Street Hockey will take some time today and tomorrow and look at each award, and say who we think should win them all.

If you need a refresher, here are the awards in question:

  • Barry Ashbee Trophy (Best defenseman, as voted on by the media. 2014-15 Winner: Mark Streit)
  • Pelle Lindbergh Memorial Trophy (Most improved player, as voted on by the team's players. 2014-15 Winner: Chris VandeVelde)
  • Yanick Dupre Class Guy Memorial Award (for the player "who best illustrates character, dignity and respect for the sport both on and off the ice," as voted by the media. 2014-15 Winner: Mark Streit)
  • Gene Hart Memorial Award (for the player "who demonstrated the most 'heart' during the season, as voted by the Flyers' Official Fan Club. 2014-15 Winner: Jakub Voracek)
  • Bobby Clarke Award (Most valuable player, as voted on by the media. 2014-15 Winner: Jakub Voracek)
  • Toyota Cup (for the player who receives the most Toyota Star Of The Game selections. 2013-14 Winner: Claude Giroux)

We aren't going to bother going back through each of the Toyota Star Of The Game selections for every game this season, so we'll leave the intrigue there for Thursday night's game. But the other five are awards that we feel qualified to weigh in on. So we'll look at the first two today, and the remaining three tomorrow. Cool? Cool.

With that, we'll start with the Barry Ashbee Trophy, which goes to the team's most outstanding defenseman. You may not be too surprised to see how we leaned here, but see below for our choices and explanations.

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Brent: Of the five, this is the most difficult trophy to vote for as there's no clear winner. However, you can trace the turnaround of the season directly to Shayne Gostisbehere getting called up to the big team, so I'll vote for him. Gudas deserves consideration, and I would have voted for Del Zotto had he not gotten hurt.

Ryan: Is this even a question? Shayne Gostisbehere burst onto the scene in November and has captured the eyes and hearts of fans around the country ever since. Michael Del Zotto had the award locked up, but an unfortunate wrist situation knocked him out for the last few months of the season.

Kevin: Man, this is a tough one. If Del Zotto had played the whole year, I think he was on track to win it as our de facto No. 1 and he was playing well in that role. Gudas deserves some strong consideration because he's been such a pleasant surprise the vast majority of the year. At the end of the day though, Shayne Gostisbehere took this team to another place when he came up. I don't think he'll actually win it because of his deficiencies in his own end, but I think, simply put, he's been the team's best defenseman this season.

Kurt: I thought about going a little contrarian here and picking Radko Gudas, which I think would honestly have been defensible given his extremely impressive possession numbers on the season. But let's just put it this way: if this semi-rebuild that's currently in progress goes according to plan and this team is really good in three years, there's a good chance that we'll look back at November of this season as the moment where things really kicked into high gear. And that's because that's when Shayne Gostisbehere was called up to the NHL, and because he hasn't looked back since.

Al: I honestly don’t think there’s any doubt that this thing has Shayne Gostisbehere’s name written all over it. The point streak in the middle of the season was enough to justify it, and when you couple that with some pretty exciting offensively-minded play, he’s definitely got my vote. Sure, he has some missing parts to his game that will likely be filled in as he progresses, but look at the other guys on this defense. Who the hell are you supposed to give it to other than Ghost? In previous years, I correctly described this Award as picking "the King of the Turd Ball" given the Flyers woeful defensive corps. This year, it’s nice to pick someone not just because they aren’t a total garbage fire.

Allison: Shayne Gostisbehere. It’s hard to nail down exactly what makes a defenseman great, but if the combination of skill, speed, clutch-osity, and being a goddamn delight to watch has anything to do with it, Ghost wins the one hands-down. It’s been a while since we’ve seen a skater so electric. Anytime he touches the puck, a hush falls on the crowd because they know the storm that's coming. He's awesome in the very literal definition of the word: he inspires awe. He and players like him make hockey worth watching.

Charlie: There's actually a decent case to be made for Radko Gudas, who surprisingly proved to be the defense's best play driver at even strength this season. And had Michael Del Zotto stayed healthy, he would have been in the running as well, considering the way he stepped into the team's tough minutes role and still thrived. But Shayne Gostisbehere has to be the choice here, primarily due to his incredible scoring production from the back end. He's produced at a 59-point scoring pace over a full season during his 60 NHL games, not only unprecedented for a rookie defenseman but near the top of the charts among veterans as well. His five game-winning goals are just icing on the cake.

Travis: Here's a conversation I had with Kurt this morning:

Me: ahh crap Kurt I forgot to send in my vote for Ashbee.

Kurt: It's scheduled for 10:30.

Me: OK I'm walking to work but I will put it in there in a minute.

Kurt: i mean you pretty much just have to find 50 accompanying words to go along with "shayne gostisbehere"

So just to spite Kurt, I'm gonna use emojis:

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Do you think our choices are bad? I hope not! But just in case you do, or if you agree with us, vote in the poll below and/or use the comments to tell us who YOU think should win the Barry Ashbee Trophy!