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Season 36 Award Predictions Part I

 

This is Part I of my Award Predictions Article. It is a mixture of what I think will happen and how I would vote, I look at five nominees for each award (three for some) and then discuss how I think the voting will go and who will/should be the winner in my opinion. Obviously this is only my opinion so if you have a different one, feel free to share it in the comments so we can get some discussion going :). This part features the Funk (Most Improved), Virkkunen (Most Sportsmanlike), Knight (Best GM) and Boulet (Best Two-Way Forward) Trophies. Part II will then continue with the Stolzschweiger (Top Rookie), Shaw (Top Goalie), Labatte (Top Defenseman) and Campbell (Regular Season MVP) Trophies, so stay tuned and have fun with the article!

 

Dustin Funk Trophy

Awarded to the played deemed to be most improved in the VHL

 

Eggly Bagelface (VAS) – 90.9% (S35) vs. 92.8% (S36) Save-Pct, improved GAA and SO

 

Sergey Brovalenko (DAV) – Went from 71 Points to 104 Points

 

Jakub Kjellberg (TOR) – Went from 68 Points to 97 Points

 

Willie Weber (TOR) – Went from 51 Points to 80 Points

 

Naomi Young (HEL) – Went from 33 Points to 65 Points

 

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The Verdict: This came down to be a very close race because there really wasn’t one player that had a big jump in production, but a lot of people that improved at pretty much an equal rate. A lot of players had between 25 and 35 points more than last season and it’s up to you to decide if it’s more impressive if a weaker player doubled his production or if a star player breached the 100 point threshold for the first time. There are a bunch of players that narrowly missed out on a nomination in this prediction like Alexander Valiq, who is a candidate for the Labatte Trophy, but was already a very good player last season, or David Collier who almost doubled his points, jumping from 35 to 61, but who ultimately ended up with a too low total to make it, or Thomas Landry whose jump from 59 to 81 just wasn’t as impressive at that of some others. In the end it came down to two players for me: Eggly Bagelface and Sergey Brovalenko. Brovalenko had the highest jump in production with 33 more points than last season, and broke 100 points for the first time in his career. Bagelface on the other hand improved from a 90.9% save percentage to 92.8%, his goals against average was 0.47 goals lower than last year and he had two more shutouts. These improved stats in all areas, along with the fact that he was the main reason that the Vasteras Iron Eagles were sitting in a playoff spot for the majority of the season, are what led me to choose Eggly Bagelface as the Winner for the Dustin Funk Trophy!

 

Mikka Virkkunen Trophy

Awarded to the player deemed to be most sportsmanlike

 

Sergey Brovalenko (DAV) – 10 PIM, 104 Points

 

Matteo Gallo (DAV) – 8 PIM, 79 Points

 

Jakub Kjellberg (TOR) – 17 PIM, 97 Points

 

Chico Salmon (TOR) – 2 PIM, 81 Points

 

Tomas Valiq (QUE) – 14 PIM, 83 Points

 

2010+NHL+Awards+Portraits+bYURkj2w6FZl.j

 

The Verdict: This always seems to be one of the more random awards to hand out. With this league being based on a simulation and no real way to judge players on ice-behavior other than by looking at his penalty minutes, things like how a player conducts himself around the boards are also considered and this can be highly subjective. I decided to take a look at three things, a low PIM-count was the most important factor, but after that the player’s actual performance on the ice was also considered, mainly through his point totals. Last but not least, off-ice behavior only played a minor role, but was considered as well for players that were very close. The three players that have the best chances in my opinion are Sergey Brovalenko, Jakub Kjellberg and Chico Salmon. I’ll leave it up to you to decide which player you think deserves the Virkkunen Trophy the most. Salmon has the lowest PIM-count of all nominees but can also pretty much be considered an inactive at this point, Brovalenko has the best combination of low penalty minutes and high point total, but some people don’t like how he conducts himself around the forums and Kjellberg is a highly respected member with great stats, but also has the highest amount of penalty minutes of all nominees. Right now this seems to be a race that is too close to call, it all depends on which factors the voters emphasize more: discipline, performance or off-ice behavior.

 

David Knight Trophy

Awarded to the general manager deemed to be the best in the VHL

 

Advantage (NYA)

 

Edgar (TOR)

 

Victor (DAV)

 

The Verdict: I decided to only have three nominees here because otherwise half of the leagues GMs would have been nominated, which would have been rather pointless. This was in fact a rather easy decision for me and I think my three nominations for the David Knight Trophy won’t surprise anyone. Both Edgar and Victor led their teams to their finals and pulled at least one major trade during the season (Davey Jones to Davos, Reggie Dunlop to Toronto), that significantly contributed to their teams success this season. Whoever wins in the finals will probably take home the Knight as well, as it was so many times in the history of this award, but this time it will be well deserved because both GM actively added key pieces this year instead of just relying on an already good roster. The third nomination goes to Advantage of the New York Americans, the surprise team of the season that almost made the Playoffs after just having started a full on rebuild two seasons ago. The Americans are a dynasty in the making and will add three more blue chip prospects in the upcoming draft to an already very talented group of players, thanks to the amazing work by their GM. Also, Advantage probably pulled of the single most lopsided trade this season, when he traded a good but not great player in Keiji Toriyama to the Vasteras Iron Eagles for what ended up being the 3rd Overall – and the Iron Eagles even added in the deal. Based on this trade alone and on how bright the Americans future is looking already, I could very well see Advantage winning this trophy as well.

 

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Scott Boulet Trophy

Awarded to the player deemed the best two-way forward in the VHL

 

Wesley Kellinger (QUE) – 99 Points, 242 Hits, 42 Shot Blocks

 

Thomas Landry (DAV) – 81 Points, 348 Hits, 43 Shot Blocks

 

Brennan McQueen (RIG) – 63 Points, 371 Hits, 92 Shot Blocks

 

Xin Xie Xiao (NYA) – 72 Points, 366 Hits, 30 Shot Blocks

 

Anatoli Zhumbayev (HEL) – 124 Points, 264 Hits, 46 Shot Blocks

 

The Verdict: The criteria used to determine who should win the Scott Boulet Trophy for best two-way forward can be very different from user to user. For some people points don’t really matter while others look no further than the first top-scoring player who was at least decent in his own end. Some look at a player’s +/- while others see this stat as completely useless. And everyone seems to value the number of hits and shot blocks differently. And this year could be a prime example for why it is so difficult to determine who was the best two-way forward – because there are so many different players who were all very good in their own respective areas of strength. Of the five players I nominated I think the two with the best chances are Brennan McQueen and Anatoli Zhumbayev, who represent two very different definitions of a two-way player. Zhumbayev is a dynamic high-scoring forward, who finished second in league scoring this season. His defensive stats are “only” good though, not elite. He was one of the better forward in terms of shots blocked but his hitting totals aren’t as high as those of McQueen, Landry or Xiao. McQueen on the other hand was probably the best pure defensive forward this season… or was he? He threw a league-leading 371 Hits and also led all forwards in shot blocks with 92. Those stats alone should make a player the frontrunner for the Boulet, but there are some concerns with McQueen as well. First of all he only had about half as many points as Zhumbayev (63 compared to his 124). Even if this award is for best two-way player and not best offensive player, a difference in production as big as this should hurt McQueen’s chances. There also are some people that consider McQueen to be more of a power forward instead of an actual two-way forward, mainly because of her plus minus. McQueen was a pitiful -59 this season and while I usually consider plus minus being pretty much useless, since it is mainly a team-stat, it is still cause for concern. McQueen has the second worst plus minus on the Reign and was a good -20 lower than some of his teammates. Can a player who is on the ice for far more goals against than most of his teammates really are considered the league’s best two-way player? An interesting question that I think many people will find different answers to… My prediction: McQueen still wins the Boulet despite all his shortcomings. I personally would give the award to Zhumbayev though.

Edited by RomanesEuntDomus
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Content: 3/3 - Pretty cool look at some of the races for league awards. Kind of surprised to be mentioned for two of them, but hey, I'll take it. Brovy should have the Virkkunnen based on those numbers alone, but he probably won't based on who he is. Also agree that AZ takes the Boulet, only with Odin Tordahl a close second.
 
Grammar: 2/2 - Just one mistake in all of this... damn impressive!
 
frontrunner = front-runner
 
Appearance: 1/1 - Very spiffy!
 
Overall: 6/6 -  :1st:  :vhl:  :cry3:
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Thanks for the feedback so far :)!

 

Regarding Tordahl: I didn't include him because I see him as more of a power forward than of a two-way forward. He has a very high number of Hits, but very few shots blocked and had the least PK ice-time of any of the people I considered. Both SB and PK-time are things that I consider a necessity if you want to be considered an elite two-way player and Tordahl just didn't fit that mold for me.

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Thanks for the feedback so far :)!

 

Regarding Tordahl: I didn't include him because I see him as more of a power forward than of a two-way forward. He has a very high number of Hits, but very few shots blocked and had the least PK ice-time of any of the people I considered. Both SB and PK-time are things that I consider a necessity if you want to be considered an elite two-way player and Tordahl just didn't fit that mold for me.

 

While that definition probably more aptly fits Odin, the VHL doesn't actually know the difference from both a stat and member perspective. We can't sadly. We don't track giveaways or takeaways and shots blocked and plus minus stats are totally influenced by the team you are on. Players on a good team have less shots blocked and a better plus minus. They score more points and have the puck more, thus they will never put up shots blocked on a team that barely registers 15 shots on goal like Calgary this season. Yet a player on Calgary? They'll load up in shots blocked.

 

If you look at who has won the award in the past and how it has been calculated, the two main stats for two way forward have always been points and hits. Then people generally take a gander at shots blocked, plus minus and overall stats. It is a reason why giveaways and takeaways NEED to be in the sim. It would allow us so much freedom. We do have the possibility to put them in as it requires a never version of STHS but Jardy would have to tamper with the math for the rest of the settings as every time he tries it it messes with like penalty minutes, overall shots on net etc. 

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While that definition probably more aptly fits Odin, the VHL doesn't actually know the difference from both a stat and member perspective. We can't sadly. We don't track giveaways or takeaways and shots blocked and plus minus stats are totally influenced by the team you are on. Players on a good team have less shots blocked and a better plus minus. They score more points and have the puck more, thus they will never put up shots blocked on a team that barely registers 15 shots on goal like Calgary this season. Yet a player on Calgary? They'll load up in shots blocked.

 

If you look at who has won the award in the past and how it has been calculated, the two main stats for two way forward have always been points and hits. Then people generally take a gander at shots blocked, plus minus and overall stats. It is a reason why giveaways and takeaways NEED to be in the sim. It would allow us so much freedom. We do have the possibility to put them in as it requires a never version of STHS but Jardy would have to tamper with the math for the rest of the settings as every time he tries it it messes with like penalty minutes, overall shots on net etc. 

 

Fair enough, I totally understand that, I still have a different opinion though. I have had this discussion on the SHL as well and there just seem to be different schools of thought when it comes to determining what makes a good two-way forward. Mainly looking at points and hits is the easy way and it is a legitimate one to find possible candidates. But it feels like when it comes to determining the actual Winner, you have to dig deeper and also consider SB and stuff like PK-minutes. I'm not gonna name a player the best two-way forward in the league if he isn't even the best two-way player on his own team, showcased by the fact that his team uses other Forwards more when on the PK.

 

It is true that Shot Blocks can be inflated if a player is on a weaker team, I actually though about including this in my write-up when I talked about McQueen. But McQueen had already gotten enough flak from me and the "My verdict"-part was already long enough so I left it out. This argument doesn't apply to Tordahl though, just compare his numbers with those of other players on good teams.

 

Tordahl had only 15 SB and 41 PKM. Zhumbayev had more than three times the amount of shots blocked while also playing on a strong team and was also used way more on the PK. Same situation with Landry: He was a teammate of Tordahl yet his SB-count is three times higher and he has five times the PKM of Tordahl. If anything, Landry was the go-to two-way forward on the Dynamo, not Tordahl. The only thing Tordahl has on him is about 25 points more, their Hit-numbers are practically the same. And to come back to Zhumbayev, he is an even bettter scorer than Tordahl (124 to 106 points), he only has about 90 Hits less than Tordahl but is better in every other important category. So even if you take out the players from weaker teams like McQueen and Xiao, there are still at least two other players who are better Forwards than Tordahl in my opinion. I won't mind if Tordahl gets nominated, but there is no way he should win it.

 

PS: Yay, three paragraphs!

Edited by RomanesEuntDomus
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No...

As for Zhumbayev, his shot blocks are considerably lower than Osborne and Young, for just two examples. AZ and OT are the only realistic options for the Boulet (everyone else is nowhere near as good offensively) and penalty kill minutes is an interesting stat which I had never considered but I'm a bit doubtful about how useful it is.

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No...

As for Zhumbayev, his shot blocks are considerably lower than Osborne and Young, for just two examples. AZ and OT are the only realistic options for the Boulet (everyone else is nowhere near as good offensively) and penalty kill minutes is an interesting stat which I had never considered but I'm a bit doubtful about how useful it is.

 

I look at it this way: Zhumbayev and to some extent Landry have the best balance of all the relevant stats. Almost everyone else sucks in at least one important area, for Osborne it's Hits, for Young and McQueen it's points and for Tordahl it's Shot Blocks and PK-time. And I prefer the guys with the solid all-around games over those who just had a lot of points and hits, at least for this award. Offensive stars already get a lot of recognition, in my opinion the Boulet trophy should not just go to the best offensive player who wasn't horrible defensively, but to a true multifaceted two-way player.

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I look at it this way: Zhumbayev and to some extent Landry have the best balance of all the relevant stats. Almost everyone else sucks in at least one important area, for Osborne it's Hits, for Young and McQueen it's points and for Tordahl it's Shot Blocks and PK-time. And I prefer the guys with the solid all-around games over those who just had a lot of points and hits, at least for this award. Offensive stars already get a lot of recognition, in my opinion the Boulet trophy should not just go to the best offensive player who wasn't horrible defensively, but to a true multifaceted two-way player.

 

But there is no stat that proves the true multifaceted two way player. We don't track them, and that would be giveaways and takeaways. Register penalty killing minutes is hilariously awful, no offense. Lines are set by the teams GM's, or in the case of some teams players on their team. Ergo, I could just skew that stat in the favor of a player I want by throwing them on the top penalty kill and ramp up the percentage of time that PK is on the ice. It is also a bad stat to use because what if the team doesn't give up a lot of penalties? Suddenly that player isn't a good defensive player? I know you want this to be the NHL, I wish it was too, but it isn't. We can't look at things like PK time and how often that player is relied on in defensive situations as justification since there is way too much that is different from the VHL to the NHL.

 

Ultimately, as much as it sucks to just look at hits and points, that is really the best two options. If a player has 20 more points than another player than the hit advantage shouldn't be too high. Generally the best stat to look at at base value is always hits, then points. It is why I think Odin is my pick for this award. He has an 80 point hit advantage on Zhumbayev and still managed over 100 points. 

 

Also the penalty argument is pretty hilarious. That is out of the control of every player. It's a proven fact that if you add to discipline you hit less, several players of tried that. Thus as you add to strength and checking there is a chance you take a lot of penalties. Name of the game. The reason by the way hits is used as the primary defensive stat is in the lack of takeaways/giveaways we assume that the majority of hits lead in a takeaway. Ergo you are obtaining the puck when your team doesn't have it, and thus a defensive action. 

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I look at it this way: Zhumbayev and to some extent Landry have the best balance of all the relevant stats. Almost everyone else sucks in at least one important area, for Osborne it's Hits, for Young and McQueen it's points and for Tordahl it's Shot Blocks and PK-time. And I prefer the guys with the solid all-around games over those who just had a lot of points and hits, at least for this award. Offensive stars already get a lot of recognition, in my opinion the Boulet trophy should not just go to the best offensive player who wasn't horrible defensively, but to a true multifaceted two-way player.

But how far are they relevant stats? PK minutes is very doubtful (I wouldn't go as far as Devise in saying they're terrible but there are several issues) and shot blocks should be compared to their team and both Tordahl and Zhumbayev don't rank favourably with their teammates.

Points and hits are the most relevant stats, for better or for worse, in the VHL, and hits taken can be used with hits. Tordahl is superior.

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But there is no stat that proves the true multifaceted two way player. We don't track them, and that would be giveaways and takeaways. Register penalty killing minutes is hilariously awful, no offense. Lines are set by the teams GM's, or in the case of some teams players on their team. Ergo, I could just skew that stat in the favor of a player I want by throwing them on the top penalty kill and ramp up the percentage of time that PK is on the ice. It is also a bad stat to use because what if the team doesn't give up a lot of penalties? Suddenly that player isn't a good defensive player? I know you want this to be the NHL, I wish it was too, but it isn't. We can't look at things like PK time and how often that player is relied on in defensive situations as justification since there is way too much that is different from the VHL to the NHL.

 

Ultimately, as much as it sucks to just look at hits and points, that is really the best two options. If a player has 20 more points than another player than the hit advantage shouldn't be too high. Generally the best stat to look at at base value is always hits, then points. It is why I think Odin is my pick for this award. He has an 80 point hit advantage on Zhumbayev and still managed over 100 points. 

 

Also the penalty argument is pretty hilarious. That is out of the control of every player. It's a proven fact that if you add to discipline you hit less, several players of tried that. Thus as you add to strength and checking there is a chance you take a lot of penalties. Name of the game. The reason by the way hits is used as the primary defensive stat is in the lack of takeaways/giveaways we assume that the majority of hits lead in a takeaway. Ergo you are obtaining the puck when your team doesn't have it, and thus a defensive action. 

 

Well, looks like we fundamentally disagree then. Because for me a top two-way forward, or in other words a Selke caliber player, is NOT someone who spents a ton of time in the penalty box while his teammates has to kill off the penalty.

 

Of course tracking Takeaways and Giveaways would be better but because we don't have these stats, we have to look at the next best ones. And this can't be accomplished by just looking at Points and Hits.

 

And maybe I didn't make myself clear enough regarding the PK-minutes argument. I did not want to use them as a main factor to determine who is the best TWF, but as a way to eliminate those that aren't. And your "What if a team doesn't give up a lot of penalties?" argument is invalid in this case, you just have to compare a player to his teammates. And if you look at the dynamo:

Sergey Brovalenko - 288 PKM

Davey Jones - 271 PKM

Matteo Gallo - 264 PKM

Thomas Landry - 217 PKM

Odin Tordahl - 41 PKM

 

There are four (!) Forwards on his team that are used way more on the PK. No matter what the reason for this is, I can't vote for a player as top two-way forward in the league if he isn't even used in such a role on his team. Maybe you disagree with this and this is fine, but it is my opinion and I think it is a legitimate one.

 

And about the penalty argument: I didn't consider PIM for my Boulet votes at all, it was just as a reply to Victor trying to explain Tordahls lack of PKM. And which skills a player does or doesn't add to doesn't matter to me at all. I just look at stats, not skills.

 

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