June 24 2015 08:00PM
Photo Credit: Jake Roth/USA TODAY Sports
This was my first hockey season as a member of the PHWA, and I had the mixed blessing of casting an NHL Awards ballot. It was an honour, but it was also a heavy burden.
After years of slamming NHL awards voters for this, that and the other thing, actually having a ballot this season changed my perspective. I agonized for weeks over my selections, researched deserving candidates for each award heavily, re-streamed game video, and talked to a variety of industry people whom I trust before allowing my vote to be tallied.
Some of these decisions were decided by a wafer thin margin. I'd wake up one day thinking that Erik Karlsson was my pick for the Norris, and I'd go to sleep that night thinking that 'really, P.K. Subban was the most valuable two-way defender in hockey this season.' Then I cast my first place Norris vote for neither player.
Anyway, in the interest of transparency and because these sorts of hockey conversations are pertinent and fun, I'd like to present my 2014-15 NHL Awards ballot for your scrutiny, consideration and entertainment.
June 24 2015 03:00PM
It would have been unbelievable a few months ago, but it just a few days out, it's very possible that Russian-born defenseman Ivan Provorov may be the first defenseman off of the board at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.
The well-rounded, if somewhat undersized defender possess a solid two-way game and high-end offensive instincts. Though he's a choppy skater, there's no denying his speed and his dynamic ability to rush the puck. One wonders if he might be able to add an additional gear with the right skating coach, and that's a frightening thought indeed.
Provorov checks in at #9 on our list, read on past the jump!
June 22 2015 11:00AM
Swiss-born Halifax Mooseheads power forward Timo Meier had a nondescript age-16 season, and wasn't generating much of any buzz as a prospect nine months ago. What a change a 90 point season can make.
The thick winger exploded onto the scene this season, scoring 44 goals and adding 90 points in 61 games. He continued to pummel opponents in the postseason, adding 21 points in 14 games on the Mooseheads run in the QMJHL playoffs. Meier's production and his heavy physical game have captured the attention of the hockey world, and it's a near certainty that he'll become the third Swiss-born forward to be drafted in the top-half of the first round since 2010 (joining Nino Niederreiter and Kevin Fiala).
June 21 2015 12:00PM
Ottawa 67s forward Travis Konency comes from a family of hockey players - Vancouver Canucks centre Bo Horvat is a second cousin - and despite being small of stature, plays a hard-nosed game. He's also been rather productive at the OHL level, and could represent significant value in the latter part of the first-round.
June 20 2015 12:00PM
High scoring Oshawa Generals swingman Mitchell Vande Sompel is one of the biggest wild cards among this 2015 class of first time draft eligible players.
The undersized, skilled and extremely versatile skater has lined up as a forward and a defenseman for the Generals, and would often play up front and on the back-end in the same game. During the postseason, for example, the Generals penalty kill saw Vande Sompel lineup at forward. He fared extremely well there, but he'd shift back to defense for shifts at evens and on the power play.
For a variety of reasons, even beyond his positional curiosity, Vande Sompel is one of the most polarizing and toughest to peg players in this draft class.