By Dakota Case, Scott Maran and RotoRob
The 2015-16 Fantasy hockey season is well underway, but it’s already time for the RotoRob.com 2015 Year-End Awards! Here’s what the RotoRob.com NHL Staff came up with.
Other 2015 RotoRob Awards:
Fantasy Stud of the Year
Had it not been for a broken collar bone, Chicago’s Patrick Kane would’ve likely led the league in points at season’s end. He was on pace for 86 points, good enough for a tie with the New York Islanders’ John Tavares for second place. Instead, Kane had to settle for 27 goals and 64 points in 61 games. This season, he is on an incredible roll with 32 goals, 76 points in 57 games played. That said, we’re going to have to stick with last season’s leading scorer – Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn.
It came down to the wire last season, but three goals – and an assist with just 8.5 seconds to play – in the Stars’ final game of the season were enough to lift him over Tavares for the Art Ross trophy as the league’s regular season leading scorer. This season, Benn has continued his torrid pace with 28 goals, 62 points and a plus-16 rating in 55 games, tying with Erik Karlsson for second in league scoring behind Kane. And to think he was a fifth round pick! — DC
Honourable Mentions: Carey Price, G, Montreal Canadiens; Devan Dubnyk, G, Minnesota Wild; Kane, RW, Chicago Blackhawks; and Tyler Seguin, C, Dallas Stars.
Fantasy Dud of the Year
There are some good, uh, we mean bad ones on this list. One of the worst would no doubt have to be former Buffalo Sabres/now Nashville Predators forward Cody Hodgson. Hodgson scored just six goals and 13 points in 78 games last season, notching a league 11th-worst minus-28 rating. It was by far his worst season ever. This season, Hodgson was doing slightly better with three goals, eight points and a plus-2 rating in 39 games with a much better team in Nashville. Still, he was only on pace for 14 points in 66 games, so in the middle of January, the Preds waived him. He’s currently toiling in the AHL. Woof. Dud. — DC
Honourable Mentions: Josh Gorges, D, Buffalo Sabres; Connor Murphy, D, Arizona Coyotes; Mike Smith, G, Arizona Coyotes; and Dustin Brown, RW, Los Angeles Kings.
Fantasy Rookie of the Year
Our first thought for rookie of the year was Connor McDavid, but ultimately we couldn’t justify picking him as the winner because he had only played 20 games in the NHL so far in his career. So with that, the award came down to two players — Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames and Mark Stone of the Ottawa Senators. After some thought, we decided to go with Gaudreau as this year’s winner.
Over the course of 70 games played during the calendar year, Gaudreau racked up 71 points. At only 22 years of age, he’s managed to maintain a point per game average and helped Calgary make the playoffs at the end of last season. Gaudreau’s offense sparked the the Flames’ top line and he helped Sean Monahan and Jiri Hudler set career highs with 62 and 76 points, respectively.
Let’s not forget that Gaudreau was also nominated for the Calder Trophy, which is awarded to the NHL’s best rookie. While Monahan and Hudler have slowed down in the first half of this season, Gaudreau kept scoring with 28 points in 28 games. In addition to Gaudreau’s impressive point totals, he was one of the most prolific highlight reel subjects, thanks to goals like this and this. — SM
Honourable Mentions: Stone, Ottawa Senators; Mike Hoffman, Ottawa Senators; Filip Forsberg, Nashville Predators; and McDavid, Edmonton Oilers.
Fantasy Comeback Player of the Year
There is no more deserving player for this award than Minnesota Wild netminder Devan Dubnyk. Dubnyk spent the latter part of the 2013-14 season bouncing around between the Edmonton Oilers, Nashville Predators and Montreal’s minor league affiliate in Hamilton. It was a horrible situation for the former first round pick.
Dubnyk landed another NHL gig with the Arizona Coyotes to start the 2014-15 season, ending a disappointing 2014 and starting a promising 2015 on a high note with a 9-5-2 record, a 2.72 goals against average, a .916 save percentage and a shutout. Little did anyone know just how much his fortunes would change when Minnesota traded a third round pick for him in mid-January. “Doob” had been nearly unstoppable since, posting a 40-16-4 record, a 2.04 goals against average, a .927 save percentage and nine shutouts in 62 appearances with the Wild.
The hulking 6’6” goaltender single-handedly led Minnesota to the 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs, clinching the Bill Masterton Trophy as the player who best exemplified perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey in the process. Dubnyk was also a finalist for the Vezina Trophy as the league’s best regular season goaltender, and probably should have been a finalist for the Hart as regular season MVP. The Dubnyk Clan can rest assured knowing he at least won RotoRob’s 2015 Fantasy Comeback Player of the Year award.
Honourable Mentions: Daniel Sedin, LW, Vancouver Canucks; and Loui Eriksson, RW, Boston Bruins.
Now, it’s time for some of the less official awards…
The “Things-We’ve-Always-Wanted-to-Scream-at-James-Neal-But-He-Can’t-Hear-Us-Through-the-TV”/“Wanna-be-Male-Actor-in-a-Lead-Role” Award
On December 7, James Neal finally got caught. A great scorer who has seemed to take on the role of bully in recent seasons, he was brutally assaulted by the stick of Boston Bruins netminder Jonas Gustavsson on a follow through. Naturally, the Nashville Predators power forward then proceeded to flop on the ice like a freshly caught northern pike, much to the disgust of referee Tim Peel. We won’t get into specifics, but Peel immediately gave Neal two minutes in the sin bin while also using two words that rhymed with “duck.” — DC
As you can see from the video above, we jest when using the term “brutally assaulted” to describe something that was little more than a simple love tap.
Fireman of the Year Award
Apparently, hot Coyotes rookie Anthony Duclair needed some cooling down in a November tilt against the Ducks. At least so thought Patrick Maroon, who used a faceoff right near the Ducks bench as an excuse to give Duclair a quick spray from his water bottle. It’s likely the kind of thing that happens fairly often, but is rarely caught by the camera. In this instance, Maroon’s antics were not exactly surreptitious, but Duclair took it in good humour, as you can see. — RR
Now it’s your turn. Let us know in the comments below who you think deserved some hockey hardware last year.
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