The polls are closed and the results are in! On Monday, FN contributors shared their votes and rationale for the Flames 2013 award winners, but we left the ultimate decision up to FN readers. Today, we reveal the big winners (and one loser) as chosen by the FN community.
Winner: TJ Brodie
With 32% of the vote, the young blueliner narrowly edged out the contributors choice Lee Stempniak (30%). Mikael Backlund came in second at 20%.
Brodie began the year as a healthy scratch, but eventually rocketed up the depth chart once Bob Hartley gave him a chance. The coach recently said Brodie was the most pleasant surprise of the season for him.
"He’s been unbelievable for us."
We’ve been raving about Brodie for awhile around here and I predicted he’d be a bright spot leading into the season after watching him dominate the AHL for the Heat. Still, even I was surprised by his rapid ascension in the shortened season. Seems the readers here were suitably impressed as well.
Winner: TJ Brodie
Duh. The team MVP swept this one in a landslide with 86% of the vote. Bouwmeester and Wideman were a distant 2nd and 3rd on this one.
Winner: Mikael Backlund
A bit of a darkhorse since he missed half the season (and played through injury down the stretch), Backlund nevertheless took this one with 37% of the vote, just 5% clear of second-placed Glencross.
Backlund found the back of the net a bit more frequently this season, which helped folks see just how effective he is at other parts of the game as well. Backlund drove possession and scoring chance differential better than any Flame forward this season and his two-way game (which was always decent) took a solid step forward after a strong start to things in Sweden this year.
Backlund will probably never lead the team in scoring, but he’s the kind of pivot who makes his linemates better and the job of guys elsewhere on the roster easier.
Winner: Matt Stajan
The readers and contributors agreed on this one. Former pariah Matt Stajan resurrected his career with a very capable performance for Bob Hartley in tough circumstances this season. As a result, he crushed the vote with 73% of readers picking him over second placed Jiri Hudler (13%) and other options.
Stajan is a good bet to stick around for the final season of his contract now, rather than facing a buy-out and potential exit from the NHL altogether. He’s probably not your ideal first line center on a good team, but it’s clear he can still contribute at this level.
Winner: Sven Baertschi
Although there were a few good arguments made for Roman Cervenka in the comments section of the original awards piece, Sven Baertschi nevertheless took this one in a walk with 89% of the votes. Like Brodie, Baertschi finished the season very strong which has vastly increased his stock in the hearts and minds of the faithful. Of course, he’s also the best prospect in the organization, so he is a symbol of new hope and a fresh start in the wake of the Iginla/Kippe era.
Cervenka, on the other hand, was hurt by his age (26) and expectations of stepping into a top-6 role for the team right out of Europe. Unlike Sven, Cervenka began the season well but quickly petered out and became a bit of goat for the coaching staff, who mostly sat him or played him in a bottom-6 role for the rest of the season.
Cervenka has some offensive skills and an accurate shot, so there’s something there. His lackluster conditioning and defensive game hurt him in the eyes of the bench bosses, though, as well as the readers apparently.
Winner: Jay Feaster
This was a two horse race, with the organization’s general manager (39%) winning by a nose over its former cornerstone starter, Mikka Kiprusoff (35%).
I made my case for Kipper as the goat in the original post, but it seems Feaster’s penchant to make big promises but inability to deliver on them gave him the edge, I imagine there’s also enough folks who were unhappy with this trade deadline work to add fuel to that fire as well.
Thanks to those for who participated and we’re looking forward to doing this again next season. Hopefully the pickins’ won’t be a slim next time.
Next up, we have a FN roundtable to wrap things and I will post a season in review as well. This month we will move on to discussing the organizations current top-15 prospects as well as potential targets for the Flames in the first round of the draft, ranging from their first pick (6th) to their third (29?).
Also, make sure to check out Streakcred. Many of FN and the Nations writers are playing and the prizes are amazing. Unlike more fantasy games, you don’t have to join right away to have a chance to win. You can start a new streak pretty much any time and pick and choose the games to bet on. So get it going and maybe win a trip to Germany, a 52" TV or an iPad 4S.