NHL All-Star Break: New Jersey Devils Midseason Awards
With the NHL now at the All-Star break, now is a good time to reflect on the first 49 games and give out some awards to certain players. If you want individual grades, take a look at this article from a couple of weeks ago.
Most Valuable Player
This one is pretty easy, and this vote goes to Patrik Elias, the player who also happens to be the team's All-Star representative. Having played in 47 of the team's 48 points, no one has produced like Elias has for the Devils this year, with 13 goals and 23 assists, including four game-winning goals (good for 25 percent of the Devils' victories).
Elias also produced in all three zones of the ice, as he continues to be a very solid defensively responsible player. Despite his current plus/minus of minus-7, Elias does a great job in his own end in terms of coverage, and is a strong penalty killer, and will chip in with a hit here and there.
He's never finished as a minus player (in a full season), and even though he's still got a bit of a mountain to climb there, it wouldn't shock me in the slightest if he got back to being a positive player for the season.
Most Surprising Player
It's hard to find many players who haven't disappointed this year, but one player who definitely has exceeded expectations thus far is Rod Pelley, who has brought a lot of energy on a nightly basis, and has even contributed more offense than expected, scoring three goals so far.
Pelley has been a big part of the fourth line that has been really good the last ten games or so, teaming with David Clarkson and Tim Sestito.
Who do you think has been the biggest disappointment for the Devils this year?
Pelley has also been pretty solid on the penalty kill and while he isn't going to wow too many people, he definitely has been one of the more consistent players, bringing a solid effort game after game.
He plays with a bit of an edge, bringing some physicality to the Devils, which is much needed over the course of the season, including being willing to drop the gloves when the situation calls for it.
Most Disappointing Player
While it was hard to find a player who was a bit of a surprise, there unfortunately are a host of candidates to qualify as the most disappointing player for the Devils this season. Candidates include Ilya Kovalchuk, Henrik Tallinder, Martin Brodeur, Andy Greene, Jamie Langenbrunner and Brian Rolston, all of whom have been disappointments to a large degree.
The choice here, while a difficult one, is Henrik Tallinder, who was heralded for his helping Tyler Myers to the Calder Trophy last season, but was not able to help solidify the Devils' defensive corps as expected.
Surely, the troubles of the defense this season cannot be pinned solely on Tallinder by any means, but he definitely played a large role in the struggles the team had in their own end the first 35 games or so.
It was hoped he would help Alexander Urbom, but that did not happen in Urbom's first seven NHL games, as Urbom definitely struggled to adjust to the NHL level, which can't be all that unexpected at the age of 19.
As for Tallinder's game, he was caught out of position seemingly on a regular basis. It seemed every time the opponent scored, you'd find a dejected Tallinder off to the side of the play. His play has picked up a lot the last ten games or so, but his first 38 games were so bad that he gets this award.
Rookie of the Year
Due to the number of injuries the Devils have incurred this year, there have been a decent amount of rookies that have been thrust into the mix for the Devils. However, none have really matched the impact of Mattias Tedenby, who has scored five goals and six assists in the 27 games he has played.
He's definitely had some struggles at times, especially with his consistency, but Tedenby has showed you the skills that help make him a first round draft pick in 2008. He has great speed and stick handling ability, which he has utilized at times to help create scoring chances.
As he continues to get more and more comfortable, his production should continue to rise, and you would expect Tedenby to be a key contributor for the Devils in the years ahead.
That's all the awards for now, look for more Devils updates soon!
Want to talk Devils hockey? Follow me on Twitter @ levinakl.
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