Canucks: Team announces award winners for the 2020-21 season

VANCOUVER, BC - MARCH 22: Tyler Motte #64 of the Vancouver Canucks skates during NHL action against the Winnipeg Jets at Rogers Arena on March 22, 2021 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
VANCOUVER, BC - MARCH 22: Tyler Motte #64 of the Vancouver Canucks skates during NHL action against the Winnipeg Jets at Rogers Arena on March 22, 2021 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images) /

The Vancouver Canucks played their final home game of the season on Tuesday afternoon, doubling up on the Calgary Flames by a score of 4-2. As tradition has stood for the past 40 years, the organization also took the opportunity to announce their year-end team award winners.

Usually, the team awards are announced throughout the game, giving fans a chance to applaud the deserving recipient. Of course, with arenas still completely empty and everyone watching from home, the club had to find other ways to reveal the winners.

The Canucks took to their social media platforms prior to puck-drop, virtually handing out five awards throughout the morning. Four of them – MVP, Best Defenceman, Most Exciting Player, and Unsung Hero – were voted by the fans.

This year’s winners

To no one’s surprise, rookie Nils Höglander captured the Pavel Bure Award for Most Exciting Player. The 20-year-old winger has been one of the few brights spots in an otherwise dark season for the Canucks, and continues to impress with his speed, determination and creativity with the puck. Höglander has been a fixture in the top six forward group since training camp, currently sitting fifth in team scoring with 27 points, and should be rewarded with a similar role next year.

Despite only playing in 24 games this season, forward Tyler Motte was awarded the Fred J. Hume Award as the team’s Unsung Hero. It was a tough campaign for Motte, who was in and out of the line-up due to injury, but that didn’t stop him from contributing to the team when he could.

Motte recorded six goals and three assists over 24 games, but, more importantly, provided energy and an a hard-work ethic to both the penalty kill and bottom six forward group.

In addition to being the team’s Unsung Hero, Motte was also awarded the Daniel and Henrik Sedin Award. This award, which was established last season, is given to the player that “exemplifies outstanding community leadership qualities and humanitarian contributions to his community”, as stated on the team website.

Motte currently serves as one of the team’s Hockey Talks ambassadors, and continues to share his story about battling depression and anxiety, all with the hopes that others will feel more comfortable coming forward and seeking the right treatment for their own mental health journeys.

Motte will also represent the Canucks as the nominee for both the King Clancy Memorial Trophy and the Bill Masterton Trophy. These league awards will be announced at a later date.

A few surprises

Of course, you can’t have awards without a few surprise winners.

Quinn Hughes was the winner of the Walter “Babe” Pratt Trophy for Best Defencemen for the second straight season. Most fans would argue that Hughes was a defensive liability for much of this past year, and took a step back from his impressive rookie campaign in 2019-20. He posted a -22 rating over 55 games, and often didn’t play as well as other blueliners, such as Nate Schmidt or Travis Hamonic at the tail end of the season.

With that being said, Hughes was still able to put up solid offensive numbers, registering a team-high 38 assists to go along with three goals. His 41 points also put him 11th in defencemen scoring throughout the league.

Captain Bo Horvat captured the Cyclone Taylor Trophy for team MVP.  This was the second time that Horvat was named team MVP, with the first honour happening back in 2017.

Many believed that goaltender Thatcher Demko or forward Brock Boeser would be the front-runners for this award.

Demko posted a .915 SV% and 2.85 GAA over 35 games this season, and was consistently the team’s best player whenever he played between the pipes. Boeser led the team with 23 goals and 47 points, rediscovering his shot as well as taking big strides in his over gameplay, especially with the absence of linemate Elias Pettersson. There’s also a good chance that he’ll walk away with Cyrus H. McLean Trophy as the team’s leading scorer.

Nevertheless, most fans won’t disagree too much with this year’s MVP selection. Horvat notched 38 points over 55 games this season, with his 18 goals good for second on the team. He was a leader both on and off the ice, stepping up big when the team needed him most, and will continue to play a big role on this roster moving forward.

The contest also marked the Canucks’ Frontline Worker Appreciation Game. Players donned the names of different frontline workers on the back of their warm-up jerseys, and both the organization and the city were once again able to appreciate the hard work and sacrifice of our front line workers during this COVID-19 pandemic.

Of course, we’re all hoping that we can return to Rogers Arena next year with a feeling of renewed normalcy and with the pandemic behind us, but here’s to hoping that the Canucks will continue to pay tribute to the province’s front line workers as often as they can moving forward.

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What were your thoughts on this year’s award recipients? Let us know in the comments!