OilersNation 2013 Year-End Awards

Starting this year, the Nation will hold end-of-season awards, so put on your best tuxedo t-shirt and click “Read Article” for this year’s choices.

Most Valuable Player

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Nominees: Devan Dubnyk, Taylor Hall, Justin Schultz, Ladislav Smid, Nail Yakupov

Writers’ pick: Taylor Hall (unanimous).

Robin Brownlee: Taylor Hall.

Jason Gregor: Taylor Hall. He was the Oilers most consistent player and he finished 9th in NHL scoring. His competitiveness and intensity was visible in the majority of their games, and next year he’ll need more of his teammates to play with the same passion.

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Wanye Gretz: Taylor Hall. It’s hard to assign the most valuable player on a team that has missed expectations by as wide a margin as the Oilers but Taylor Hall has emerged as a next level forward in the NHL. On many nights he seemed to be one of a handful of Oilers who seemed to care. This will need to get contagious over the summer if the Oil are going to compete next season.

Lowetide: Taylor Hall.

Jason Strudwick: Taylor Hall. This season he was the emotional leader of this team on the ice. Most nights he was the most noticeable player on the ice.

Jonathan Willis: Taylor Hall. For me, insofar as there’s a choice it’s between Taylor Hall and Devan Dubnyk, and Hall just did too much to ignore. Patrick Kane was the only Western Conference forward with more points than Hall, who passed names like Datsyuk and Getzlaf and Toews along the way. The only question is whether Hall is a first or second-team NHL all-star at left wing.

Best Defenceman

Nominees: Mark Fistric, Jeff Petry, Justin Schultz, Nick Schultz, Ladislav Smid

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Writers’ pick: No consensus; two votes each for Jeff Petry, Justin Schultz and Ladislav Smid.

Robin Brownlee: Justin Schultz.

Jason Gregor: Justin Schultz. He played 21:26/game and was their only offensive threat. He looked fatigued down the stretch, and even with a -17 rating, I’d give him the nod because of his offensive production. If he can get stronger this summer his overall game should improve.

Wanye Gretz: Ladislav Smid. Smid continued to prove that he is a shot blocking, cross checking, defensively sound Oilers defenseman. As a man expected to skate all over the ice the fact Smid has nearly as many saves as either Oilers goaltender this season is extra amazing. Even when the season was toast, Smid still put himself in mortal danger blocking shots each and every night.

Lowetide: Jeff Petry. Petry is my pick on blue because, despite being asked to play too much and playing with a struggling partner, he was able to shake off the early season rust and represent. He’s a helluva player.

Jason Strudwick: Ladislav Smid. He was the steadiest defenceman this year. It is not a flashy player but he was consistent for most of the year.

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Jonathan Willis: Jeff Petry. There isn’t really a good choice here. Of the three most obvious names, Ladislav Smid is a good soldier but lacks offensive upside, Justin Schultz is an offensive great who was a significant defensive liability over the last half of the season, and Jeff Petry lacks the defensive steadiness of Smid or the offensive ability of Schultz. Ralph Krueger showed his view by playing Petry more at even-strength, short-handed and overall than any other defender on the team; I agree with the coach.

Best Forward

Nominees: Jordan Eberle, Sam Gagner, Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nail Yakupov

Writers’ pick: Taylor Hall (unanimous).

Robin Brownlee: Taylor Hall.

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Jason Gregor: Taylor Hall. He emerged as one of their leaders on and off the ice, and I think next year he’ll mature even more and hopefully encourage and challenge his teammates to be more consistent.

Lowetide: Taylor Hall.

Jason Strudwick: Taylor Hall. Top scorer.

Jonathan Willis: Taylor Hall. He was head-and-shoulders above the rest of the forwards on the team.

Unsung Hero

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Nominees: Devan Dubnyk, Sam Gagner, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nick Schultz, Ladislav Smid

Writers’ pick: Devan Dubnyk (four votes).

Robin Brownlee: Devan Dubnyk.

Jason Gregor: Devan Dubnyk. He finished the season with a very respectable .920 SV% and 2.57 GAA. His numbers were identical to Brian Holtby in Washington, yet Holtby has received lots of praise for his play, while many questioned Dubnyk’s. He isn’t a top-ten starting goalie yet, but I felt he was one of the Oilers better players most nights.

Lowetide: Devan Dubnyk. Because our eyes see the softies, we tend to discount his contributions. He’s posting solid numbers for a terrible defensive team and doing it was chaos all around. The softies and rebounds are there, but I think he’s a good goalie

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Jason Strudwick: Devan Dubnyk. He took big steps into making me a believer. He played behind a week team and still has good numbers. Goaltending is not an area of concern for this group.

Wanye Gretz: Sam Gagner. Gagner had a great season this year finishing second on team scoring amidst overwhelming mediocrity. And this seemed to be lost on many Oilers fans who were puzzlingly calling for #89 to be traded during many of his best performances of the season.

Jonathan Willis: Sam Gagner. I think most who follow the Oilers recognize Dubnyk’s value, but I don’t think the same is true of Gagner. In the early going he was the Oilers’ best offensive option, and his value as a second-line centre is under recognized.

Rookie of the Year

Nominees: Mark Arcobello, Justin Schultz, Chris VandeVelde, Nail Yakupov

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Writers’ pick: Nail Yakupov (five votes).

Robin Brownlee: Nail Yakupov.

Jason Gregor: Nail Yakupov. This was a two-horse race. Nail Yakupov was excellent in the final half of the season, while Schultz started strong, but struggled in the 2nd half. I’ll give the nod to Yakupov. He ended up leading the team in goals, but I’m sure many will point out that his 21.0% SH is unattainable. It likely is, but I suspect he’ll also shoot way more next year. Of the top 60 goal scorers in the league, only one, Patrick Berglund, had fewer shots (74) than Yakupov’s 81. In fact, only 5 others had fewer than 100 shots. He has a great shot and when he starts to use it more often, he will likely score more often.

Wanye Gretz: Nail Yakupov. Tough call against Justin Schultz who won the AHL Defenseman of the Year award despite the notable handicap of missing half the season. You have enough accolades for year one Justin. It’s Nail’s turn. Plus that massive goal celly. OOOOWHEEE

Lowetide: Nail Yakupov.

Jonathan Willis: Nail Yakupov. It’s a two-horse battle here, but Yakupov led all rookies in goals, tied for the lead in points and got better with each passing game.

Jason Strudwick: Justin Schultz. The ability to run the PP is evident. Smooth skater and calm. Needs to work on the defensive side of the game but that should come in the next three years.

Goat of the Year

Nominees: Eric Belanger, Ben Eager, Jeff Petry, Ryan Smyth, Ryan Whitney

Writers’ pick: Ryan Whitney (two votes).

Wanye Gretz: Ryan Whitney. Damn you Whitney. I don’t know what you did to piss off Kreuger so badly that you didn’t get to play at all really down the stretch but whatever it is – you fell the farthest short of expectations on a team full of players that fell short of expectations. I really wanted to like you.

Jason Gregor: Multiple. There are too many to choose from, but I will say that collectively the veterans were the most disappointing. Horcoff, Smyth, Whitney, Belanger and Hemsky weren’t good enough leaders. They all could have been better, as could have some of the young players, but the vets should know how to play consistent, and too often this season that didn’t happen.

Robin Brownlee: Jeff Petry.

Lowetide: Steve Tambellini. Tambellini is the goat because he left those kids out there alone so long. It’s a crime.

Jonathan Willis: Ben Eager. There was no shortage of choices here, but Eager played his way off the NHL roster in a year where the team was crying for a player with his skillset to take on a bigger role.

  • Jonathan, I find it strange that you would call Gagner the unsung hero when you and Bruce McCurdy gave him such low grades after each game throughout the season. (You knew one of us would go there 🙂 ) Even Hemsky and Paajarvi received a higher average grade over the year, which could imply that Gagner was again carried by his wingers rather than the reverse. Even when he scored a point or two, the report cards cited him for poor defensive coverage, low faceoff percentages, errant passing, missed scoring chances, etc.

    Given how a lot of fans will simply point to his goal/assist stats to claim he had a good season, wouldn’t his high points and mediocre play actually make him the opposite of an unsung hero? I’d give Gagner the award for being the Fool’s Gold of the roster: shiny at a glance but not worth the weight that comes with being a second-line center.

  • Justin Schultz as best defenseman? haha

    I don’t think any one player killed the Oilers playoff chances as much as Junior Schultz.

    That’s on Tambellini because he didn’t bring in a defenseman capable of playing top 4 minutes to protect Schultz, but the kid was still terribad in 3/4 of the ice surface.

  • Scary Gary

    regarding Petry

    150 games in at 25yrs old.. leading minutes.. all situations.. never once “protected”.. sink or swim from the get-go.. we rode him like a pack mule..

    and he took a very fair deal for his contract..

    a goat..!?!?

    naahh.. the kid did OK.. and the sky is the limit..

    he will come in bigger and stronger next season.. and won’t be ruined by this s****y team..