We made it folks! The Flyers are closing out their season tonight against the Ottawa Senators, and this weird and terrible season is finally (just about) a thing of the past. And with the final game on deck, that means it’s also time for *drumroll* that’s right, team awards! Those are indeed still happening. And our staff is weighing in on who should be the winners. Hooray!
Bobby Clarke Trophy (Flyers MVP)
Maddie: This is so tough with Claude Giroux gone, man. Carter Hart’s up there, but I kind of want to give this to Cam Atkinson? He scored a bunch, has good vibes. Sure.
Steph: It has to be Carter Hart, right? Like... who else is there? I can’t think of one other player that could win this award.
Em: I feel like the true MVP is Hart because he was probably the only player (that is still on the roster) that gave it his all every night, but I don't want to rule out Atkinson either. He made things at least a little more fun to watch, and in this season, that's more valuable than anything else.
Ryan Q.: I want Carter Hart to get the MVP, but I also feel like it’ll end up going to Cam Atkinson or Kevin Hayes. Hayes has been really good recently and Atkinson has been one of the top offensive players all season, so I wouldn’t be shocked if either of them got it. But again, I think Hart deserves it most. One of the only positive things all season long was his play in net.
Colin: The MVP should be Claude Giroux, but since he is not eligible, I gotta go with Carter Hart. As bad as this season was, some of the games could have been a lot worse without Hart.
Matt: Hear me out: Ryan Ellis was supposed to be the thing that shored this team up, that stabilized the defense and turned the Flyers into a true contending team. Ellis’ year-long absence has kind of proved that this roster is not just a top-pair defenseman away from contending. There are a lot more holes and based on the Flyers’ performance this season without Ryan Ellis, those holes became a lot more evident. This is my attempt at being prophetic — hopefully this has woken someone up in the front office that they need to actually rebuild this team. Think about it, without the Ryan Ellis injury, we’d probably be on the playoff bubble, Claude Giroux would still be languishing away here rather than absolutely lighting it up for the President’s Trophy winner, and the Flyers would be simultaneously no closer to contending than they were to bottoming out. If this year’s draft (and potentially 2023 and 2024) ends up being the franchise-saver that the most optimistic of us hope it can be, then we’ll look back on this moment and have the Ryan Ellis injury to thank. Plus, there’s no other Flyer who scored over a point per game this season.
Drew: My vote goes to Cam Atkinson, since he’s been (other than Carter Hart and the young player call ups) the primary reason to watch this team at all this season. He’s also a genuinely nice person which makes it easy to root for him.
James: Travis Sanheim for not only miraculously somehow being one of the only plus players on this black hole of a team, but doing the best propping up of a dead body since Weekend At Bernie’s in the way he carried Ristolainen.
Barry Ashbee Trophy (Most outstanding defenseman)
Maddie: Travis Sanheim, if only for making Rasmus Ristolainen look like even a passable NHL defenseman this season.
Em: Seconded. With the exception of Cam York, was there even another defenseman that we could categorize as good?
Ryan Q.: This has to be Keith Yandle. Lmao. Jk. It’s got to go to Sanheim. He and Hart were two of the true bright spots this season, and the fact that he was tethered to Risto for so long only makes him more deserving.
Steph: Lmao well. Outstanding? You can be terrible and that is outstanding. Which is good because, uh, outstandingly good? Not on this team. If I had to pick the best defenseman, obviously it is Travie, but who stood out the most on this team this year is Yandle. I guess it depends on how the beats define outstanding. It will probably be Sanheim.
Colin: This one is Sanheim and it’s not that close. He lead the defense in scoring as well as posting his second most points in his career. Considering the season that deserves something.
Matt: Travis Sanheim for this award is the only real no-brainer in my mind. Reams of digital paper has been wasted on why plus/minus is a flawed statistic, but when you’re +10 on a team that has one of the worst goal differentials in the league and you played the overwhelming majority of your minutes (1,114 of 1,515) with Rasmus Ristolainen and no one else on the team is really even positive, that’s not exactly a coincidence.
Drew: It has to be Sanheim, though of course they give it to Ristolainen.
James: Once again, Travis Sanheim not only for having to play his and Ristolaninen’s position at the same time, but because his all round game has taken a step forward. Is he a number one defenseman in the future? Probably not, however, he is unequivocally the best defenseman we currently have.
Yanick Dupre Class Guy Award (Presented to the Flyer who best illustrates character, dignity and respect both on and off the ice)
Maddie: This award always kind of feels like shorthand for “guy who is nicest to the media award,” so with that floating around in the back of my head, I’m giving this to Scott Laughton. Always candid, always professional, even when things were really, really bad around here, and that counts for something, that’s appreciated.
Em: I want to submit Kevin Hayes for this, but I feel like all the reasons I want to nominate him for are the same reasons for giving him the Gene Hart below: the way he's persevered throughout a season that has dealt him nothing but bad blow after bad blow and the class he's had in dealing with it. I could also nominate Atkinson for the way he's embraced the city of Philadelphia despite a sudden trade away from a city he calls home.
Ryan Q: I agree with Em. Think this could go to Hayes or Atkinson, but could also see JVR getting it. He’s gotta win some kind of award to drive up that trade value, eh?!
Colin: I think this award seems like one Keith Yandle will win. He’s the kind of players everyone talk about his value off the ice and how respected he his among his peers. My personal choice would be Scott Laughton but we will see.
Steph: Alright the Philly PHWA votes on this one (I’m in the international branch so I have no insight on this voting), so who is nice to Charlie? Everyone except Nolan Patrick and that is the official answer. In my heart of hearts, I say they vote for Yandle because they know his career is almost certainly over and it is the “classy” thing for them to do. I’m fine with it, I don’t care about this award. Give it to any of them, it’s fine. If they show up for a presser, they have been nice boys.
Matt: Keith Yandle at this point in his life is not a good NHL player. This fact has been reiterated daily in various forms of media and on Twitter. Sometimes, critics go beyond hockey-playing ability. Now, being someone so far removed from any kind of face-to-face contact with these people, it’s hard to actually be able to tell who is classy and who isn’t, but I can say for sure—even though I’m barely on Twitter as it is—that I would not be as publicly classy as Yandle has been regarding these criticisms.
Drew: I have a feeling this award goes to Keith Yandle for setting the iron man streak (but at what cost [sad]).
James: Scott Laughton. Look, he may not be the smartest human being on Earth (I recall a tweet we’re his teammates made fun of him for his most recent concussion test being the first test he’s ever passed in his life) but it is clear that he is a steady presence in that room and he is making a genuine effort to be a representative/advocate in the LGBTQ & DEL community.
Pelle Lindbergh Memorial Trophy (Most improved)
Maddie: This is a tough one, but I think I’m gonna toss it to Morgan Frost. Last season was a bit of a wash because of the injury, and even though he didn’t get a full season with the Flyers this year, he did the most he could with being bounced between levels, and now that he’s gotten a longer look with the Flyers at the end of the season, he really looks like he’s putting it together, which is nice.
Ryan Q.: Agree with Maddie. This is extremely hard to pin down. Would this go to Sanheim? I personally think it should go to Hart, because he quite literally did improve upon last season. I don’t know who else would deserve to get it.
Em: I wouldn't be surprised to see it go to Sanheim. With Hart it's tricky because while he did improve, he also bounced back to a level we expect to see him at. To me, "most improved" always feels like a player who has hit highs that maybe weren't initially expected. That's where I almost want to agree with Maddie in picking Frost. He's starting to do better for himself and perhaps changing the perception that he's yet another draft bust. This is a really tricky one, though, and maybe the Flyers should change this one to "player who recessed the least" this year.
Colin: This one is really tough considering it felt like the entire organization took a step backwards. There’s a few interesting candidates like Morgan Frost, maybe Martin Jones? Perhaps Oskar Lindblom considering where he was a few seasons ago and not knowing if he would ever get back to what we thought he could be. Official pick is Morgan Frost.
Steph: I hate this award for this team. I’m trying to think of who impressed me this season and the only answer I can come up with is Isaac Ratcliffe, who isn’t on the team right now. The only way Morgan Frost improved is that he actually played this year in the NHL, so I don’t think I would give it to him. It’s voted on by teammates, so maybe they give it to Hart knowing how much he struggled last season?
Matt: Travis Sanheim is the only guy who improved this season to the point that I now have a different opinion on what he can be. Everyone else who had a better season than they did last year (Carter Hart, Travis Konecny, Cam Atkinson) is really just a comeback rather than a true improvement.
Drew: I’ll cast my vote for Cam York, who has looked quite improved from the player we saw briefly last season.
James: Carter Hart even though he improved to just about where he was two years ago. Goaltending is a dark art and Hart very easily could have gotten worse. History is full of names like Jim Carey (not the Pet Detective), Andrew Hammond, Matt Murray, and Roman Turek who are guys that had varying degrees of “can’t miss” franchise goalie destiny only to have their games go as fast as it came. Still TBD on what Hart’s ceiling is and for how long, but many of us quickly forget how painful that knot in our stomach can feel when we have no idea who the number goalie will be next year.
Gene Hart Memorial Award (Player with the most “heart”)
Maddie: Kevin Hayes. With all he’s been through this year and how he’s continued to show up for the team, both on an off the ice, that means a lot.
Em: Seconded. I don't really know if there's anyone who has shown more heart for this team this year. It's so clear how much being on the sidelines this year affected him, and it's been one of the few bright spots of the end of this season to see him finally bouncing back.
Ryan Q.: Hart. It’s literally his name. Duh. In all seriousness, though, I agree with Em and Maddie. This needs to go to Hayes. It’s been awesome seeing him get hot late in the season after all he’s been through.
Colin: I am also going to chose Kevin Hayes for all the same reasons that have already been stated. Dark horse candidate could possibly be Zack MacEwen. Never felt like he quit on a game and skated hard every shift.
Steph: Has to be Kevin Hayes, I can’t imagine anyone else it would be. He has had a really shit time in the past year and I don’t know how he is standing, let alone playing well in this second half.
Matt: Kevin Patrick Hayes.
Drew: Kevin Hayes, 100%.
James: Hayes far and away is first, second, third through tenth. In a very distant eleventh, any and all of us who stuck through this hellscape of a season.