Flyers Notes: Team Award Predictions, Consideration for NHL Awards
Prior to Thursday night’s game at Wells Fargo Center, the Flyers will give out their annual team awards.
There are certainly many deserving players for many of the honors to be given, and that expands beyond just the team awards. There are a few Flyers players who should get consideration for the NHL’s awards at the end of the season.
Here are predictions for the Flyers team awards and some NHL awards where the Flyers deserve to be considered.
Bobby Clarke Trophy (MVP) - Claude Giroux
At this point, isn’t it obvious? Giroux should be in the running for the Hart Trophy as the league’s MVP -- more on that later -- let alone the team’s MVP.
Without Giroux, a potential playoff appearance and the success the Flyers have experienced this season is not possible. For Giroux, now 30 and in his 10th NHL season, to have a career year like this and continue to elevate his game is so impressive.
Barry Ashbee Trophy (Best Defenseman) - Ivan Provorov
It’s a close race between Ivan Provorov and Shayne Gostisbehere, but Provorov gets the nod here for his substantial increase in ice time and all-purpose role.
Provorov is on the ice on the power play. He’s a top-pairing defenseman at even strength. He’s on the penalty kill, one of the only things that Gostisbehere cannot claim.
Both young defensemen have offensive upside that has been on full display this season. Provorov has been the steady defenseman all season, while Gostisbehere has more or less grown into his role on the top pairing. So Provorov beats out Gostisbehere by a nose.
Pelle Lindbergh Memorial Trophy (Most Improved) - Shayne Gostisbehere
In that case, Gostisbehere likely gets the most improved honor with the Pelle Lindbergh Memorial Award.
You could easily give this to Travis Konecny or Sean Couturier for increasing the upside and production in their offensive game, but Gostisbehere’s vast improvement defensively is the huge difference maker.
The offense just continued to come for Gostisbehere throughout the season -- he became the first Flyers defenseman to reach 60 points since Garry Galley in 1993-94. But the fact that his defensive game continued to make strides and improve and fewer mistakes were being made in coverage, positioning and playing the puck, he’s earned this honor.
Yanick Dupre Class Guy Memorial Award - Andrew MacDonald
For as much flak as he gets, mostly because of his contract, MacDonald has done all of the little things and been a reliable part of the Flyers defense this season.
The attention, more like ire, of Flyers fans have shifted to the bottom pairing of Radko Gudas and Brandon Manning as opposed to MacDonald’s play. As a veteran, he does all you could ask for and more. In situations where mistakes are made or unfortunate bounces come into play, MacDonald is also very responsible and always willing to comment on what went right and what went wrong.
MacDonald has really filled the role that Mark Streit held for so many seasons and does it with tremendous class.
Gene Hart Memorial Award (Most Heart) - Matt Read
This might be a bit of a longshot, but I think Matt Read is the most deserving.
Sure, there are players like Wayne Simmonds that demonstrate heart in a different way, but for Read to not be on the roster at the start of the year to finally earn a spot mid-season and run with it shows commitment and heart, especially when you consider that he is probably on his way out in the offseason with his contract expiring.
Read has been a workhorse, doing the grinding work on the fourth line. If this is his last ride with the Flyers, he does deserve some recognition for it.
Flyers in Running for NHL Awards
In addition to the team awards, there are at least two Flyers who deserve some national attention for the NHL Awards to be given out following the season.
Giroux should absolutely be in the running for the Hart Trophy as the league's MVP. With 97 points, he ranks third in the NHL, but has been particularly strong since January, picking up 51 points in the last 42 games.
Even during times of struggle for the Flyers, Giroux was essentially carrying the team. In November, when the Flyers slugged their way through a 10-game losing streak, Giroux was still carrying the team with 14 points and five goals in 13 games.
The Hart Trophy is not all about production of course, but when you look at some of the other candidates and what they have done for their teams throughout the season, you start to see a few shine through brighter than the others.
Pittsburgh's success is not all Evgeni Malkin, though he is fourth in the league in points. The same goes for Nikita Kucherov and Tampa, even with Kucherov at 98 points on the season. Connor McDavid has been great individually, but the Oilers have been a disaster.
Really, three players start to stand out -- Giroux, Taylor Hall for New Jersey and Nathan MacKinnon for Colorado. Take them away from their teams for any extended period and the playoffs are probably no longer a possibility.
That isn't the way voting typically goes and someone will likely be a snub when the finalists are revealed. Honestly, is there any problem with it being Giroux? For as deserving as he is, the Flyers captain seems to have always flown under the radar.
Also in the running for an NHL is Sean Couturier. With his added offensive production -- a career-high 31 goals -- Couturier has now emerged as a candidate for the Selke Trophy.
Throughout his NHL career, Couturier has been praised for his defensive ability but never had the offensive production to be considered a true candidate for the award presented to the best defensive forward.
Couturier will have to compete with perennial candidates like Patrice Bergeron and Anze Kopitar, but he's earned his place in the discussion by far.
Kevin Durso is Flyers editor for SportsTalkPhilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.