Today I am in a strangely giving mood so now would be a good time to pass out some awards. First up are some of the minor awards like the most improved, biggest bust, and Mr. Tough-guy.
Most improved goes to the player that showed the most improvement from last season to this season. I am giving this one to David Johnny “Orr” Oduya. He went from 2G-9A-11P with a -5 rating in '06-'07 to 6G-20A-26P and a team leading +27. Oduya went from a minus player to a big plus player and more than doubling all his stats, which is just phenomenal. Now that Oduya seems fully adjusted from the Swedish leagues to the NHL, Devils’ fans can expect this sort of production and plus play for years to come.
Biggest bust award is given to the player who just did not live up to expectations put on them. This one goes to two players: Mike Mottau and Dainius Zubrus. Averaging over 20 minutes of ice time a night, Mike Mottau did not put up the stats or effort to justify that much playing time. Mottau only had 17 points and was a -11. He also seemed to always be the guy who was responsible for the turnover in the Devils’ zone which end up costing them a goal. Mottau only makes the league minimum; however, Dainius Zubrus makes a reported $3.4 million. Zubrus managed to only put up 13G-25A-38P while playing on the top 2 lines for most of the season. This comes after putting up 57 points in '05-'06 and 60 points in the '06-'07 season.
Mr. Tough-guy award goes to the player who showed the most grit and toughness during the regular season. The honorable mention goes to Arron Asham and his one shot punch on Mathew Spiller, but the true winner is David Clarkson. Clarkson ranked 5th in the league in fighting majors with 21. I dare anyone to tell him he does not deserve this award, enough said.
Next I will be handing out my praises for the big awards: most valuable player, rookie of the year, and Mr. Clutch.
MVP goes to Martin Brodeur. Not only does he contribute as far as stats go, but he also has a presence that just makes his team play better. He always comes to play and it is hard to imagine the Devils are going to be without him in several years when he retires.
Rookie of the year goes to David Clarkson. The lack of rookies should not overshadow the outstanding season Clarkson had. 9G-13A-22P, 183 PIM, and 151 shots is pretty good but with only 12:01 minutes of ice time per game it seems even better.
Mr. Clutch goes to Patrik Elias. How clutch is Elias? His 3 goals in OT put him in a 4-way tie for top in the league. Elias also drew the primary assists on both Zach Parise’s OT goals and John Madden’s lone OT goal. What about shootouts? I am glad you asked. He lead the team and went 5 of 6 on shootouts during the regular season for 83.3%.