While Evgeni Nabokov is likely the only Shark who has a legitimate shot at taking home any hardware at the NHL awards ceremony in June, this San Jose squad is certainly not one devoid of hometown heroes.
From the unexpected contributions that offseason bargain Jeremy Roenick has brought night in and night out to the steadfast consistency of Joe Thornton's offensive domination, the Sharks owe the majority of their success to big contributions from a few key sources.
In the spirit of the NHL awards ceremony, here is a breakdown of which postseason awards would go to each Shark if the season ended today.
Hart Memorial Trophy (MVP)
Though the Sharks would likely be on the outside looking in without Evgeni Nabokov in net, it's hard not to give the nod to big Joe Thornton, who has taken the reins offensively since the moment he pulled on a teal sweater.
He has nearly 40 more points than second leading scorer Milan Michalek (Brian Campbell excluded), the largest discrepancy between the first and second leading scorers on any NHL squad. Nabokov's effort in net may have kept the Sharks in quite a few games that they didn't deserve to win, but it was up to Jumbo Joe to make sure those efforts did not go to waste.
His numbers have suffered, though not due to any lack of effort on his part, but rather a combination of unproductive linemates and a blue line that, until the addition of Campbell, lacked creativity and required a great deal of defensive help from forwards.
Vezina Trophy ( Outstanding goaltender)
No explanation is needed for Evgeni Nabokov, who should probably win the ACTUAL Vezina at the end of the season. He has had the most dominant season of his career, while leading the entire league in minutes played behind a suspect defense and receiving patchy offensive support.
Honorable mention goes to Patrick Marleau and Sandis Ozolinsh for their respective game-saving goal-line sweep-aways, Ozolinsh in an eventual shootout loss to Anaheim and Marleau in an eventual shootout win over Minnesota.
Calder Memorial Trophy (Rookie of the Year)
No disrespect to Devin Setoguchi, who has made tremendous strides on both sides of the puck and is partially responsible for the all-important rejuvenation of Marleau, but there is only one man who deserves this award: Torrey Mitchell.
Mitchell surprised fans, coaches, and, according to an interview with FSN's John Schrader, his parents, by making the team out of training camp and finding himself on the opening night roster. He hasn't disappointed, giving the Sharks depth at the center position that they quite frankly haven't had since the departure of Mike Ricci.
A smart, tenacious forward with electrifying speed, Mitchell has solidified the league's second-best penalty kill while providing the added element of being a legitimate offense threat while down a man. Though it may be unrealistic to expect Mitchell to evolve into a top-six forward, every team needs a Torrey Mitchell to compete in May and June.
Norris Trophy (Best defenseman)
Brian Campbell has absolutely altered the face of the team and added a dimension that the Sharks have never had. He's transformed the power play, and his slick moves will no doubt help sell more than a few tickets to the fans that his patented spin-o-rama has left speechless.
However, this award has to go to Craig Rivet, who has been asked to do just about everything for the Sharks, and who has embraced the fact that his role had to change literally every night in order for his team to remain in the hunt.
He's been asked not only to fill the defensive shoes left by Scott Hannan, but to utilize his big right-hand shot on the power play. He's been asked to kill penalties and isn't afraid to drop the gloves in defense of a teammate. Rivet has been a rock on the San Jose blue line all season and showed surprisingly little fatigue despite being over-used for long stretches.
Frank J. Selke (Top defensive forward)
One forward aside from Thornton who seems to have had a consistent impact game in and game out is Joe Pavelski. Pavelski has recently turned it up offensively, flanked by speedsters Setoguchi and Marleau, helping Ron Wilson finally find a second-line combination that provides consistent pressure.
Early in the season, Pavelski was relegated mostly to the fourth line, picking up the majority of his quality offensive minutes by taking on some power play time. Instead of bemoaning his own absence on one of the top two offensive units, Pavelski took advantage of the extra ice he was given in unfamiliar situations, especially when Wilson began using him as a penalty killer.
Not the fleetest of foot, but blessed with good vision and an acute understanding of the game, Pavelski quickly became an important penalty killer by getting himself in to shooting lanes and anticipating the opposition. His 17 goals also make him an important offensive contributor, and his willingness to work hard and explore different aspects of the game with passion have made him San Jose's Jack-(or Joe)-of-all-trades.
Lady Byng (Gentlemanly conduct)
Despite playing just over half a season, Devin Setoguchi is one of six Sharks to hit double digits in the goal column. His 17 points and +8 rating are made all the more impressive by the miniscule eight penalty minutes he's racked up through 42 games.
It is tough for teams to win with their most talented players in the box, but Setoguchi has stayed out of it while maintaining a high level of play and, especially recently, seems to always be involved.
Setoguchi's development on both sides of the puck allowed Doug Wilson to confidently offer Steve Bernier for Brian Campbell, a move that has greatly benefited both the Sharks and Setoguchi's new linemates.
Masterton Trophy (Sportsmanship and perseverance)
Wthout a doubt, Jeremy Roenick has been the most pleasant surprise of San Jose's season, if not the best comeback story in the NHL this year. Roenick went from being a healthy scratch on a struggling Phoenix team to a major contributor, a leader, a mentor, and, as always, a resident comedian for the San Jose Sharks.
An immediate fan favorite, Roenick became the first player in Sharks history to register his 500th career goal, and did it in dramatic, zany fashion against his old squad.
He has been the picture of professionalism and class, a great ambassador for the game, and has undoubtedly helped bridge the gap between a frustrated coaching staff and a very young group of professional athletes.
Always outspoken, JR's play finally caught back up with his mouth, as the 19-year veteran has posted 13 goals and 29 points. Most impressively, nine of his 13 tallies have been game winners, and he's turned the Sharks' shootout fortunes around with three deciding markers after overtime.
A proven leader looking for a Stanley Cup on a Stanley Cup contender that has been searching for a leader, "Styles" and San Jose seems to be a match made in heaven so far.
To conclude, a quick mention of two players who deserve a bit of praise.
Doug Murray, who has embraced his strengths as well as his limitations to solidify his spot in the top-six and pick up a lot of the slack for an oft-injured Kyle McLaren, who is clearly on the down swing of his career.
And Captain Patrick Marleau, who hasn't caught a break from fans, his coach, or the media since last year's playoff exit, and who has picked up his game just in time. Fans are quick to forget that Marleau is tied with Jarome Iginla for the most playoff goals in NHL hockey's past four post seasons.
As much as the Sharks ride Joe Thornton through the regular season, they'll have to count on Patrick Marleau to be the man if they're going to make it out of the West. Luckily, the Captain appears ready to pick it up again when it matters most.
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