It’s award season for the Vancouver Canucks.
After being officially eliminated from the playoffs during their 5-2 win against Seattle on Tuesday night, the team won’t have much (if anything) at stake during their final two games of the year.
However, Thursday night’s contest against Los Angeles will mark the final home game of the year for the Canucks, which will stand as an opportunity for the organization to recognize the players and the fans one last time before the offseason.
Every year, the Canucks present seven different awards to the players, four of which are voted on by the fans: the Fred J. Hume Award for “Unsung Hero”, the Pavel Bure Award for “Most Exciting Player”, the Cyclone Taylor Trophy for “Most Valuable Player” and the Walter (Babe) Pratt Trophy for “Best Defenceman”.
Now, here at The Canuck Way, we’ve already shared our opinion on who should walk away with the Fred J. Hume Award and the Pavel Bure Award, with our take on the Walter Pratt Trophy next on the docket.
But what about the team’s most valuable player for the 2021-22 season?
Let’s start with Demko.
The 26-year-old netminder has been lights out all year long, taking his role by the horns in his first full, non-COVID season as a starting netminder.
Despite not having much support in front of him during the first few months of the season, Demko was still spectacular between the pipes, posting a respectable .908 SV% and 2.91 GAA in 19 games between October 12th and December 1st.
More importantly, Demko made sure to give his team a chance to win on a nightly basis, which was emphasized by his long list of highlight-reel saves against his opponents.
Like many of his teammates, Demko also greatly benefitted from the addition of head coach Bruce Boudreau behind the bench at the beginning of December, as indicated by his stellar numbers.
During that month, Demko went 7-1-0 with a .946 SV%, 1.72 GAA and one shutout. The 26-year-old only allowed three or more goals in just two of his eight starts, while also posting at least 30 saves in five of those eight outings, all of which contributed to his seven-game winning streak between December 6th and January 10th.
Demko’s heroics also played a big part in the team’s most recent playoff push, a run that the team was surprisingly able to extend until early April.
Yes, the postseason dream unfortunately came to an end on Tuesday night but, had Vancouver actually been able to sneak into the playoffs, Demko would’ve undoubtedly been a large factor in that accomplishment.
With Demko expected to miss the final two games with an undisclosed injury, the San Diego native will finish the year with a record of 33-22-7 to go along with a .915 SV% and 2.72 GAA.
Demko also became just the fifth netminder in Canucks history to post a 30-win season, putting himself amongst elite company such as Roberto Luongo and Kirk McLean.
And he’s just getting started.
Like Demko, however, Miller also had himself quite the season for the Canucks.
The 29-year-old currently leads the team in scoring, notching an impressive 97 points in just 78 games played, tying him with Todd Bertuzzi for fifth-most points registered in a season in franchise history.
Miller’s offensive outpour was highlighted by an even more impressive 13-game point streak between February 12th and March 15th, where he registered eight goals and 19 assists during that span, including nine multi-point outings.
Of those 97 points, Miller leads the team in assists (66), game-winning goals (6) and powerplay points (37). Only Elias Pettersson has been able to notch more goals than Miller with 32 (and counting), but the young Swede is also currently 31 points back of Miller on the year.
Miller has also been a staple in the NHL’s top-15 scoring race for much of the season, establishing himself as one of the league’s best offensive forwards.
Miller is currently tied with Mitch Marner for eighth in league scoring as of April 27th, and has consistently produced more than notable stars like Artemi Panarin and Mikko Rantanen.
However, it’s not just the offensive output that has put Miller into the MVP conversation.
The former New York Ranger has been able to play in all situations for the Canucks, including the penalty kill as of late. Miller has also been a strong leader for some of the younger players, while also donning the “A” in (somewhat) of a respectable fashion.
Similar to Demko, the team’s playoff hopes would’ve died a long time ago had it not been for Miller, and many Canucks fans are hoping that both can continue their heroics in Vancouver moving forward.
All four awards will be announced throughout Thursday’s game against Los Angeles, with puck drop set for 7:00pm PST at Rogers Arena.
Who do you think will walk away as team MVP? Let us know in the comments!