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I Do a Different Theme Week, But It Still Counts


Gustav
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One of our better theme weeks of the past was "unsung heroes", where we all wrote about a player or a member who we thought didn't get enough recognition. I'm going to do the same thing, because I'm just saucy like that.

 

...but, because it's awards week and I need to write about awards, I'm writing about awards instead. Specifically, I'm talking about the best current players the league has to offer who have never won an individual award. Team awards like the Victory Cup and Continental Cup don't count, because, well, they're team awards, and neither do all-star appearances (if there are even any active players left with all-star appearances) because of the inconsistency in whether or not we even have an all-star lineup anymore (as well as public voting being absolute garbage time and time again, sorry not sorry). I'm also not including VHLM awards, because it's the VHLM and nobody cares about the VHLM stats from the minors don't count towards career totals and a player's career is usually judged pretty much exclusively on their impact in the big league.

 

Originally, this was just going to be a list, but I figured it would be fun to create a full dream lineup of players who have never won an award for themselves and see where that takes me. I'll pick out 6 forwards (including at least two centers because FO), 4 defenders, and two goalers and we'll leave the debate open on whether or not said team would be able to accomplish much (spoiler alert: it absolutely would). Let's get into it!

 

...and yes, apologies in advance to anyone who feels left out. My research method (click teams on the portal and look at the stats for names that seem notable to me) is not super exact and I'll probably miss someone somewhere.

 

 

FORWARDS

 

 

Line 1:

Valtteri Vaakanainen | @Jubo | C | S72 | :sea: | 1009 TPA

Lee Xin | @Blazzer  | RW | S74 | :chi: | 827 TPA

Gunnar Odinsson | @BOOM | RW | S76 | :mal:| 863 TPA

 

Our first line is a tale of the even-numbered seasons, as we see two vets who have already built solid careers joining forces with an up-and-comer in Odinsson who appears to be (so far) a lock for quite a few major awards this season. Save for Odinsson--who seems determined to invalidate that qualification before the season is over--this line consists of players who are over point-per-game status for their careers. Vaakanainen hasn't broken away from point-per-game pace since his rookie season, once breaking 90, and has recently upped his physical game, while Xin has (so far) the highest point total of the group with 109 coming in just last season as the third consecutive point total over 80. To add to that, Odinsson's achievements this season speak for themselves, and we're lucky we get to put him in this article this season--because if I wrote this next season, our probable MVP would be far from qualifying here.

 

Line 2:

Taro Tsujimoto | @GustavMattias | C | S75 | :dav: | 995 TPA

Venus Thightrap | @BladeMaiden | C | S74 | :prg: | 841 TPA

Timothy Brown | @a_Ferk | RW | S72 | :sea: | 781 TPA

 

This line was hard to throw together because there are a few names I feel are deserving of placement on it that don't quite make the cut (Riga's Cabe McJake and Chicago's Julian Nousiainen come to mind as two players who are also over career point-per-game status). While one may be inclined to believe, based on TPE levels, that Tsujimoto or Thightrap would be the main point of this line, as they've had similar career numbers and are the two best players on the line in terms of earning, it's Brown that takes the cake statistically with over 500 career points, including four consecutive seasons of 85 or more entering S79. Meanwhile, Tsujimoto and Thightrap do what they do best--put up numbers as their respective teams' #1 center.

 

 

DEFENSE

 

 

Pairing 1:

Matty Socks | @fishy | S73 | :chi: | 818 TPA

Alex Letang | @Spartan | S72 | :la: | 930 TPA

 

Out of all the players I looked at who haven't won an award, Socks and Letang were the only two I found who were both far enough into their careers so a reasonable judgment could be made about their significance and above point-per-game level. While that's something that's come up quite a bit so far in this article, I'd like to make it clear that that isn't a clear requirement for placement on this list--after all, Odinsson is on our first forward line even though he is (at the moment) below that point--it's just a clear metric to use for players whose careers are already in progress as point totals will be different for players from different seasons. Anyway, enough about my stupid justifications. Let's talk about Socks and Letang, in my opinion two of the league's best defenders and two players who I was surprised to learn haven't been recognized individually. Both initially developed very similar styles of play, putting up points and blocking shots all over with little regard to playing a physical game, before Letang went with a more checking-heavy build midway through his career. Though I'd argue that Socks is the superior defensive player despite Letang's physicality, being up there on the SB leaderboards season in and season out, Letang managed to turn on the jets offensively and happens to be on an absolute tear this season, on track to smash his best performance on record. All in all, in a fairly subjective article, there's no doubt about our top pairing.

 

Pairing 2:

Tyler Walker | @Advantage | S73 | :cal: | 759 TPA

Kasper Kankkunen | @16z | S74 | :sea: | 838 TPA

 

As obvious as the first pairing seemed to me, the second one was a bit tougher. An honorable mention here goes to Warsaw's Victor Grachev, who I debated putting in this lineup above both of the above and who has a legitimate argument for being here as well depending on how you look at things. I'm very familiar with Walker's career, having traded for him in the offseason prior to S75 and keeping him around for a bit, and as such I'm also very familiar with some of his more notable statistical performances, including a 25-goal, 90-point, 290-hit, 165-SB effort in S77 that would likely have landed him an award had Davos not been an otherwise awful team. Overall, while probably not what we'd think of as top-tier, his stats have been impressive and he's put up a solid career. The same can be said for Kankkunen, with whom I was largely unfamiliar prior to taking a look at his player page today. Likely one of the league's more underrated players, he's coming off of back-to-back seasons over 80 points and could be on track to making it three in a row this time around.

 

 

GOALERS

 

 

Zamboni Driver | @Tape-to-Tape | S72 | :rig: | 804 TPA

Artem Tretiak | @Molholt | S75 | :mal: | 831 TPA

 

An honorable mention here would be a bit tough to pick out, because there are many similar players after this point, but mine would go to LA's Doug Dimmadome, who's managed to fight back quite admirably from some woes of his first couple seasons. Which one of these players deserves to be considered the starter is an interesting question, and there are clear arguments for either, so I'll put both out there in no particular order and let the reader decide. On one hand, Zamboni Driver has put up some impressive career numbers, certainly the more impressive of these two, in his long run with Helsinki, and currently finds himself respectably in the starter spot in Riga, a team known for some solid play in net in recent memory. On the other hand, Tretiak put up a very good performance last season and finds himself this season's best goaltender (I say without verifying that statement, but a 30-9-0 record currently is hard to beat). In terms of upward potential, Tretiak has it to infinity and beyond.

 

 

Why did I write this article instead of predicting this season's award winners or complaining about how a certain award is voted upon? Well, first off, it would be boring to do what I've seen done already this week. But second of all, there's a bit of a stigma around not winning awards. Some think no awards means no recognition as a good player, some think no awards means no chance at making the Hall of Fame, and I've seen many prospects tell me they prioritize winning an award over just about all else. You don't have to win an award to be great. This team (if it could magically fit under the cap) would be dominant, and there are a few players on here who may never win an award but who I'd consider players with a legitimate shot at making the Hall of Fame or being remembered for quite some time after they're gone. To anyone worrying about their own chances--maybe you'll win one, maybe you won't, but even if you don't, plenty of great players are just like you and it's an honor to be in that group to begin with.

 

 

 

Apparently this is EXACTLY 1,500 words. Claiming for three weeks starting next week because I already did something this week.

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Gustav "Woke" Mattias with some heat wave worthy content!

 

Finally somebody recognizes all the hard work I've put in.. 42 weeks straight without missing any! Rank 12 to 3!! Mingle I see you 👀

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