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Favourites for the VHL Defenseman Awards


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We're approaching the half point of Season 67 in the Victory Hockey League. Now seems like a good time to look forward and guess which players will be favourites to bring home the various defensemen awards at the end of the season. The races seem tight for all three awards, and with how random the sims can get, I don't think there's even the slightest I go 3-for-3 here, but whatever, let's give it a try.



Jake Wylde Trophy
Top Defensive Defenseman


S66 Winners
Basaraba Moose (MAL) 48 PTS, +0, 118 H, 174 SB
Samuel Gate (SEA) 93 PTS, -9, 251 H, 159 SB


Without a doubt the hardest trophy to assess, so let's get it out of the way first. The thing that's counter-intuitive about the Wylde is that the stats that always seem to have the most weight in the winner's decisions are shots blocked, hits and plus/minus. While plus/minus is more an indicator of team success, the former two are actually stats that players on bad teams usually get loads of. Unless there's a perfect candidate with 200+ hits and 150+ shots blocked on a good team, which would help him have a nice positive plus/minus, the trophy might just fall in the hands of a player with a negative plus/minus or a physical defenseman on a good team that doesn't block a lot of shots.


S67 Early Favourites
Piotr Jerwa (NYA) @majesiu 32 PTS, -2, 111 H, 78 SB
Dan Montgomery (HSK) @BarzalGoat 29 PTS, +5, 118 H, 61 SB
Joseph McWolf (RIG) @McWolf 32 PTS, +1, 105 H, 59 SB


While it's hard to predict how the rest of the season will go for these three -- and every other defensemen in the league, for that matter -- it looks like they are the front runners at the moment. I'd give the edge to Jerwa, but he's one NYA losing streak away from seeing his plus/minus hit unreasonable numbers for a Wylde candidate. On the other side, Montgomery has the 2nd most hits of all  defensemen, trailing only Ryan Sullivan Jr., and he's only outside the top 10 in shots blocked. Finally, McWolf was added as a third candidate because I'm narcissistic and I need to talk about myself every now and then because he's on the right track, but he's only missing a bit of hits and shots blocked to pass the other two. With a solid end to his season or a collapse from the other two candidates, he could pass them at the finish line and lift the award after this season.



Alexander Valiq Trophy
Top Offensive Defenseman


S66 Winner
Dan Montgomery (HSK) 18 G, 73 A, 91 PTS, +42


While the Wylde race looks like it could be decided by a roll of a dice, the Valiq is a little bit more straight forward. It's usually awarded to the defenseman that scored the most points and goals during the season, so I'm basically trying to guess who'll finish on top of the standings by the end of the season, with a little more weight given to goals.


S67 Early Favourites
Tzuyu (TOR) @tfong 8 G, 27 A, 35 PTS, +7
Robert Malenko (CGY) @pennypenny 11 G, 23 A, 34 PTS, +11
Smitty Werbenjagermanjensen (DAV) @flyersfan1453 13 G, 14 A, 27 PTS, +5


It was honestly hard to limit this list to 3. I almost went on and named myself as a candidate again. The top scoring defensemen are all so close one to another that it feels like anyone is a great sim away from the very top spot. However, the award has historically been awarded more often to defensemen that scored a lot, and didn't only contribute by passing to sniping forwards. That's why I chose these three. They're all on a pace for around 20-25 goals and 70-80 points, which is fairly low for a Valiq Trophy winner, but no one is on a pace for 100+ so that will have to do. I haven't included the top scoring defenseman at the moment, Elasmobranch Fish, as I believe he might regress a bit as the season goes and he's not scoring goals at an impressive pace, which would leave him behind the others when the season is over.



Sterling Labatte Trophy
Top Defenseman


S66 Winner
Samuel Gate (HSK) 93 PTS, -9, 251 H, 159 SB


Since the Sterling Labatte Trophy was split into the Wylde and Valiq Trophies and then came back in S63, the trophy was awarded 3 times to the winner of the Wylde Trophy and 1 time to a defenseman that didn't win neither of the other ones that same season. Which makes sense, because it feels like the awards committee has agreed to give the trophy to the best two-way defenseman since it's been reinstated. If I was a betting man, I'd say the odds are the Labatte Trophy will go to the winner of the Wylde if he also had solid offensive numbers. The case could also be made for the winner of Valiq, given he has great defensive stats too, but this seems like it's rarely the case, the trophy often being awarded to uni-dimensional offensive defenseman. I can't see a player with around 10 hits winning the best two-way defenseman award.


S67 Early Favourites
Dan Montgomery (HSK) @BarzalGoat 29 PTS, +5, 118 H, 61 SB
Joseph McWolf (RIG) @McWolf 32 PTS, +1, 105 H, 59 SB
Robert Malenko (CGY) @pennypenny 34 PTS, +11, 35 H, 66 SB


As expected, two Wylde Trophy candidates are also among the three favourites for the Sterling Labatte Trophy, along with an oddball. As explained with their nomination for the Wylde, Montgomery and McWolf are looking like solid defensive defensemen so far this season and, given that they continue to score as much and block as many shots, one of them could very well go home with both trophies during the offseason. Our third candidate is Wranglers' Robert Malenko, who was named as a potential Valiq winner and, unlike his fellow Valiq candidates, presents great defensive numbers as well. He's lacking a bit in the hits column, but blocks shots at a more impressive rate than the other two. If he distances himself with a ton of points in the second half of the season and continues to block some shots, he could be the second defenseman in five seasons to win the Sterling Labatte Trophy but not the Alexander Valiq. It depends how much the committee values hits for a two-way defenseman.



Predicted Winners

Jake Wylde Trophy: Dan Montgomery (HSK) @BarzalGoat

Alexander Valiq Trophy: Tzuyu (TOR) @tfong

Sterling Labatte Trophy: Dan Montgomery (HSK) @BarzalGoat

1st All-Star Team Defensemen: Dan Montgomery (HSK) @BarzalGoat - Tzuyu (TOR) @tfong

2nd All-Star Team Defensemen: Robert Malenko (CGY) @pennypenny - Joseph McWolf (RIG) @McWolf

All-Rookie Team Defensemen: Rusty Shackleford (MAL) @K1NG LINUS - Hulk Hogan (SEA) @HulkHogan



1,146 words (claiming for weeks ending on July 28 and August 4)

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