Fred J. Hume Award — Unsung Hero
- Jeff Godley — Christopher Tanev
- Janik Beichler — Jake Virtanen
- Sarah Laug — Jake Virtanen
- David Joun — Jacob Markstrom
- Gerald Morton — Rollie Melanson
Consensus (?) Pick: Jake Virtanen
It would be tempting to look at Jake Virtanen’s 13 points in 53 games and conclude that his rookie season has been nothing special. But his points total doesn’t tell the whole story.
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Virtanen is among the Canucks’ leaders in Corsi-for percentage, keeping company with veteran players such as the Sedins, Brandon Sutter and Radim Vrbata. When Virtanen is on the ice, the Canucks are getting more scoring chances than they are giving up.
Virtanen is among the Canucks’ leaders in hits; his physical game is something that Willie Desjardins has consistently praised. In a Western Conference full of big, scary, physical players, Virtanen is almost irreplaceable.
Jake Virtanen is a talented, physically mature player from whom Canucks management — and fans — expect great things of.
Alternative pick #1: Christopher Tanev
Honestly, I almost pick Tanev for Canucks MVP, but a cooler head, and Sedinery, prevailed.
As a consolation prize, I’m going to give Tanev the double honour of unsung hero, simply because I think his worth is continually underestimated.
Tanev is not a huge offensive contributor, like the Ottawa Senators’ Erik Karlsson; nor is he physically imposing like Nikita Tryamkin.
What Tanev does provide is quiet, accurate defensive play. As I outlined under the Best Defenseman section, when forced to play without him, the Canucks lose — and lose badly.
Alternative Pick #2: Jacob Markstrom
Perhaps either goaltender could have filled this spot. But like Sven Baertschi, Markstrom had a lot left to prove in the NHL before this season started. The Canucks’ goalie of the future gets the nod here.
Markstrom’s struggles early in his career have left him with a career goal-against of 3.01, and a save percentage of .904 — numbers hardly becoming an NHL starter. After a banner year with the Utica Comets in 2014-15, Markstrom finally established himself in the big league, with a 2.73 goals-against average and .915 save percentage.
This is especially impressive given that his team is in the bottom 10 in goals surrendered, and that he is playing behind a defensive corps that has lost 118 man-games to injury.
Tongue-in-Cheek Pick: Rollie Melanson
In case you didn’t know, Rollie Melanson is the Vancouver Canucks’ goaltending coach. And given how many of the Canucks losses have been kept close even when the team was badly outshot, Melanson’s work with Markstrom and partner Ryan Miller earns him a nod — even if it’s in jest. It’s a shame to think he might not be with the club come September.
These are our picks for the Canucks 2015-16 Team Awards. The trophies will be handed out this Saturday before the Canucks’ final game.