Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Minnesota Wild 2014 Regular Season Awards

More wrap-up of the regular season continues today, as we hand out some hardware for the Wild's 2013-14 regular season. This year, we finally got some names for these various awards, honoring the past Wild players who excelled in these particular categories.

Without further ado, here are the winners:

Wes Walz Cup (MVP) and Pascal Dupuis Trophy (Most Improved): Mikael Granlund
Granlund only ranked fifth on the Wild in points scored this year, but it felt like he should have come in much higher than that. In 63 games, he tallied eight goals and 33 assists and evolved into that elite center we all thought he was going to be. He filled in admirably for Mikko Koivu as top line center when Mikko was out with an injury, and developed great chemistry with Jason Pominville as he helped Pommer become the first Wild player in six seasons to score 30 goals. Granlund also took a huge step forward in the faceoff department this year, as he won 52.6% of his draws, which was second on the team to Koivu.
Honorable Mentions (MVP): Jason Pominville, Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu
Honorable Mentions (MIP): Darcy Kuemper, Marco Scandella

Benoit Pouliot Plaque (top rookie): Darcy Kuemper
Kuemper was suddenly thrown into the lions den this year, as he had to assume the number one goalie role in January after both Josh Harding and Niklas Backstrom went down. Kuemper guided the Wild out of the abyss into a playoff spot in January when he went 6-2-1 with a 2.15 GAA and .933 save percentage. Kuemper continued on as the Wild's number one goaltender until late March when Ilya Bryzgalov took over. Overall on the year, Kuemper was 12-8-4 with a 2.43 GAA and .915 save percentage. Not too bad for a 23 year old rookie goaltender.
Honorable Mentions: Erik Haula, Justin Fontaine

Keith Carney Award (+/- leader): Ryan Suter and Jared Spurgeon (+15)
To begin the season, Suter and Spurgeon started off on separate defensive parings. But not to far into the campaign, the d-pairings were switched up and the two were paired together, and they have not been switched since. At times this year, both had their defensive shortcomings and mishaps, and yet, they still lead the team with a +15. Suter posted the highest TOI in the NHL in over a decade when he averaged 29:24 a night and finished just three points shy of the Wild team record for most points in a season by a defenseman with 43 (Brent Burns had 46 in 2010-11). Spurgeon posted a career high in assists and points this year (not a surprise considering he was with Suter for most of the year), after coming off an uneven 2012-13 season.
Honorable Mentions: Erik Haula (+14 in 46 games), Nino Niederrreiter (+12)

Guillaume Latendresse Memorial Trophy (performance of the year): Ryan Suter vs WSH
In early January, the Wild season was at a fork in the road. One way took them back up the ladder and into the playoff picture, the other was a season in which it probably gets lost after Mike Yeo loses his job. On January 4th, Ryan Suter helped get the Wild back on that first path as he notched his first career hat trick against the Washington Capitals.
Honorable Mentions: Ilya Bryzgalov's back to back shutouts (Apr 5, 7), Mikael Granlund in the Olympics

Marian Gaborik Trophy (goal of the year): Zach Parise vs Calgary
For the second year in a row, its a combination of Mikko Koivu, Zach Parise, and Ryan Suter leading to the highlight goal of the year for Minnesota. This time, Calgary gets victimized by the trio in iron range red.
Honorable Mentions: Nino Niederreiter goal vs NSH, Jason Pominville goal vs EDM

Follow Giles on Twitter @gilesferrell

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