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In this edition of the hotstove, we share our picks for bounce-back player of the year in the Western Conference.
His debut season with the Calgary Flames was a massive disappointment. Many – myself included – expected Hamonic to come in and solidify the 2nd pairing, giving the team one of the best top-4 groupings in the league. That didn't happen. For whatever reason, he just looked...off. His spacing in the neutral zone was awful. He looked lost in the defensive zone at times. The offense (11 points in 74 games) was also non-existent. The trade looked like a total dud.
What a difference a year makes!
Hamonic has bounced back in a big way this season. He's been a rock alongside Noah Hanifin on the 2nd pairing and his underlying numbers are up – significantly so – across the board.
Beyond helping the Flames dominate territorially, Hamonic has also made meaningful contributions offensively. Among defenders, he is one of the league's leaders in shots/60 and he has already picked up 12 points, which is more than he recorded last season while playing in 33 more games than he's dressed in to date.
Hamonic's play is a big reason the Flames have reached new heights.
The bounce back player of the year in the West is T.J Brodie. I don't know if he is really bouncing back - he had 25 points last year and was still decent - but he did have five straight 30+ seasons and once even had 45 points, and yet he still always seems to be so underrated. Brodie is great at both ends and this year it looks like he will be back at the 40 point pace, and maybe even challenge his career high. I admit Toews is probably the better pick, but even when his point totals sag, he's still pretty damn good too. I went with Brodie because I think he often goes unnoticed and he really shouldn't.
You know the Blackhawks aren't half bad right?
Well that's not true as they sit one point above dead last in the West and only 2 points above the bottom of the league however the rumors of Jonathon Toews' demise are a bit premature.
While the captain has almost matched his point total from last season, he has his lowest shots/60 when on the ice yet his highest points/60 in five seasons. What's happening to boost production while not increasing his rate of shots both on-ice and individually is his shooting percent at 17.28% the highest in five seasons, actually the highest since 2007-08.
That's nice but is it sustainable and as it's more than double each of the last 3 seasons? Probably not but if you are a Blackhawks fan it's probably nice to see captain serious having some fun and success out there even if the team isn't. It also might be a sign of some things to come under a new head coach and changing roster.
Eastern Conference bounce-back player of the year?
Which team will finish last in the NHL?
Who won the trade between the Hurricanes and Wild?
Will the Sabres make the playoffs?
Midseason Jack Adams picks
Midseason Selke Trophy picks
Midseason Vezina Trophy picks
Midseason Norris Trophy picks
Midseason Hart Trophy picks