Mid-Season Awards: Maple Leafs Style

With the All-Star break here, there is no better time for general managers and coaches to re-evaluate their teams during the season. Part of re-evaluating a National Hockey League team is looking at the team leaders in certain statistical categories and their act on and off the ice as a person.

The Toronto Maple Leafs have faced many good moments such as two four-game winning streaks and multiple three of four stretches, and low moments such as goalless streaks and a 11 losses in 12 games stretch early in the season.

During the entire season, Leafs players have also faced their own good a bad moments. Most notably are Phil Kessel and Mikhail Grabovski, both of whom are listed below. Without further adieu, here are my choices for the 2010-11 NHL awards, Maple Leafs style:

Hart Memorial Trophy - Clarke MacArthur

The Hart Memorial Trophy is awarded annually to the league’s most valuable player. Clarke MacArthur has been exactly that for the Leafs this year.

MacArthur may not be the most flashy player in the league, but at a salary of just over $1 million, the 25-year-old leads the Maple Leafs with 40 points in 49 games. His 15 goals put him fourth on the team, while his 25 assists put him second on the team behind only Tomas Kaberle.

With 40 points certainly not being MVP material, MacArthur earns the award for other reasons as well, such as hard work and consistency. Instead of running away with the spotlight after scoring five goals in the first four games, MacArthur embraced it and took it in stride, helping him find his way in Toronto. His great work ethic also makes him the Leafs’ MVP. He has never shown up late for a practice, meeting, game or anything else and realizes the importance of such events. He also realizes the Maple Leafs’ current stance in the playoffs, which has helped him step up and lead his teammates.

Look for MacAthur to be named one of the assistant captains if he reamins with the Maple Leafs in 2011-12.

Lady Byng Memorial Trophy - Jean-Sebastien Giguere

The Lady Byng Memorial Trophy is awarded at the end of each season to the player who best exhibits outstanding sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct, while maintaining a high standard of playing ability. Jean-Sebastien Giguere is that man for the Maple Leafs.

Giguere, 33, is currently in his second season with the Leafs. Since joining the team almost one year to the day, Giguere has played great while splitting time with fellow goalie Jonas Gustavsson.

This season, Giguere has played in just as many games Gustavsson, who is struggling mightily this season. Rather than bickering, whining and complaining, Giguere has taken his current role with the team in stride.

As for the high standard of playing ability, you may not consider a .896 save percentage that great, but a 2.80 goals against average on a team that allows the sixth most goals against per game in the entire league is rather impressive.

The worst that could happen is that Giguere is asked to waive his no-trade clause at the trade deadline and he agrees to do so out of respect.

Vezina Trophy - Giguere

The Vezina Trophy is awarded to the league’s top goaltender after every season. For the Maple Leafs, there is no doubt that Giguere would win the Vezina as well.

As mentioned above, Giguere has a 2.80 goals against average on a team that allows the sixth most goals against per game in the entire NHL (3.06). His save percentage of .896 could be called mediocre, but no matter what you call it, it is still better than Gustavsson’s .890.

You might be asking yourself, “why not James Reimer?” Well, the answer his simple: he has not played enough games to prove that he could remain the team’s top goalie. In eight games and seven starts this season, Reimer has a record of 4-3-0, a save percentage of .933 and a goals against average of 2.24. He is on pace to play in just 13 games.

Calder Memorial Trophy - Reimer

Although Reimer hasn’t played in enough games to be legitimately considered as the Leafs’ Vezina Trophy winner, he has played in enough games to be considered as the team’s Calder Memorial Trophy winner, which is awarded to the league’s top rookie.

Reimer, 22, has played in eight games this season. In those eight games he has recorded of 4-3-0, a 2.24 goals against average and a .933 save percentage. He has lost just three of seven starts this season, and went 4-1-0 in his first five starts from January 1-11. The Winnipeg, Manitoba native never played in an NHL game prior to this season, making him eligible for rookie honours this season.

Art Ross Trophy - MacArthur

The Art Ross Trophy is awarded annually to the player who leads the league in total points scored. At the All-Star break, MacArthur holds that title.

In 49 games, MacArthur has scored 15 goals and assisted on another 25 for a total of a team-leading 40 points. Those impressive statistics put him on pace for a career high 25 goals, 41 assists and 66 points.

James Norris Memorial Trophy - Luke Schenn

The James Norris Memorial Trophy is one of the most recognized individual awards in hockey. Every year, it is awarded to the league’s top defenceman; not based on points and statistics, but all-around play.

In 49 games this season, defenceman Luke Schenn has been the most consistent defenceman on the Leafs. He has been trusted with shutting down some of the league’s top players by coach Ron Wilson on many nights, including the likes of Sidney Crosby and Steven Stamkos. His minus-2 rating is tied for second on the team among defencemen who have played in at least 12 games.

Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy - Gustavsson

The Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy is awarded to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. Gustavsson has been exactly that for the Maple Leafs; having to go through his toughest season yet in the NHL.

In his sophomore season “The Monster” has a record of 6-13-2, a goals against average of 3.29 and a save percentage of .890 in 23 games. Not once has he let that get to him off the ice at least not around the media. He even didn’t shoot down the idea of going down to the American league for a conditioning stint if talked about with Brian Burke.

Despite having his worst season yet, Gustavsson ignores the annoyed fans and continues to work hard to get his game back on track and play his way out of this dry spell.

Frank J. Selke Trophy - Mike Brown

The Frank J. Selke Trophy is awarded to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game. There is absolutely no doubt that  Mike Brown is that forward for the Maple Leafs.

Brown, who leads the Leafs with a plus-3 rating, has been a staple on the Buds’ penalty kill and energy line. Earlier in the season, Brown broke his hand after blocking a shot while on the penalty kill, stayed on the ice and blocked another shot. He then missed multiple weeks before returning, getting suspended for three games and picking up where he left off before he broke his hand. Although his two goals and three assists aren’t flashy stats, no one can argue that he should not be the Maple Leafs’ Selke award winner for the first half of the 2010-11 season.

King Clancy Memorial Trophy - Phil Kessel

The King Clancy Memorial Trophy is awarded to the player who best exemplifies leadership qualities both on and off the ice while making a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community. Phil Kessel was given $20,000 to donate to a charity of his choice after being chosen last during the NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft. He decided to donate that money to a cancer foundation; Kessel beat testicular cancer in 2006 as a 19 year old.

This season, Kessel has been one of the primary leaders on the Leafs, despite not wearing an ‘A’ or a ‘C’ on the front of his jersey. It always seems like the Maple Leafs play well as a team when Kessel is doing well himself, and poorly when Kessel is playing poorly himself. He also appeared to be up-beat about being chosen last in the Fantasy Draft, as he went up to the stage laughing and smiling. This serves as a wake-up call for the Maple Leafs that they can’t always be acting so down.

Maurice ‘Rocket’ Richard Trophy - Mikhail Grabovski

The Maurice Richard Trophy is awarded annually to the league’s top goal scorer. Mikhail Grabovski is that player so far for the Leafs. In 48 games this season, Grabovski has scored a team-leading and a career-high tying 20 goals, which puts him on pace for a career-high of 33.

Awards left out:

Conn Smythe Trophy – awarded to the MVP of his team for the playoffs.

Jack Adams Award – awarded to the league’s best coach

Ted Lindsay Award – awarded to the NHL’s most outstanding player as selected by members of the NHLPA.

William M. Jennings Trophy – awarded to the goaltenders(s) having played a minimum of 25 games for the team with the fewest goals scored against it in the regular season.

Follow me on Twitter @LukasHardonk for more Maple Leafs coverage.

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