2021 Devils Awards Ceremony
Hello all, time for the Woo & The Advocate Awards Ceremony.
Let's celebrate the positives of this season and recognize what this team, and players, have accomplished in this odd COVID season.
Woo - Pavel Zacha
Surpassed his career highs in a shortened season. Zacha was the most consistent player for the New Jersey Devils in 2021 and made me rest easy about choosing him in the 2015 NHL Draft as the sixth overall pick. He is just getting started.
Advocate - Mackenzie Blackwood
Playing 35 games and holding his own out there. Blackwood showed he is, indeed, on of the best young goalies in the NHL ad should be mentioned along with the Demko, Faros, Samsonov group out there. He showed he can put games under his belt, something the Devils will need next year depending what our goalie situation looks like. One thing is for sure, we will not bring in a possible starter - It is Blackwood's crease for the foreseeable future!
Most Improved Player
Woo - Miles Wood
Wood has learned to play smarter by not overexerting himself and has become one of the team leaders of a very young Devils squad.
Advocate - PK Subban
This was a hard one for me. Jesper Bratt with 30 its in 46 games was an improvement. Miles Wood, as Woo mentioned, played up and played a more mature game (we need more Wood kind of grit in the lineup).
But my vote goes to PK given his dismal first year as a Devil, this was a nice turnaround for him, perhaps with a little Coach Ruff influence. PK was better on and off the ice, he is a veteran presence this team needs and I was happy to see him improve his game this season.
Rookie of the Year
Woo - Ty Smith
Although Yegor Sharangovich literally came out of nowhere to earn his roster spot, Ty Smith’s poise and talent on the blueline showed promise of the future. Playing defense is hard and takes time to develop. After getting his game together in the second half of the season in Juniors before the shutdown, his progress continued after a big layoff. That is why Smith should be rookie of the year.
Advocate - Yegor Sharangovich
Can't argue with Ty Smith. Especially when Fitz says "I didn't expect TY Smith to be Ty Smith this year."
But I do want to highlight Sharangovich, mainly because no one expected to see what he also became for this Devils team: A player that has grown and can play in every situation. 16 goals and 14 assists is a nice contribution as he can pass and score. He can play the PP and SH. This is a player every team wants to have. (along with Smith).
Woo - Nathan BastianThe Devils really missed his physical presence and size on the BMW line. He does all the dirty work and stands up for his teammates. Wished the Devils had more grit as a whole.
Advocate - Scott Wedgewood
This guy was drafted by the Devils in 2010. This guy hasn't played an NHL game since 2018. As a matter of fact he has a total of 40 NHL Career games under his belt! (Blackwood played 35 games this season and if it weren't for COVID and it's protocol he would have surpassed Wedgewood's games in one season.
I think Wedgewood held his own, posting two shut outs, and earned a one year deal as a backup in my opinion.
Woo - Nico Hischier
Although he was named captain earlier this season, Hischier had a really unfortunate set of unforeseen circumstances this season. An injury that needed surgery to start the season, Covid protocol, and gets hit in the face by a slap shot from P.K. Subban. Nico could have mailed it in but he fought back to get in the lineup when he was less than 100%. Moreover, he led by example.
Advocate - Jack Hughes
Yes, Nico is a definite leader but playing 21 games due to injuries didn't give him enough presence to "lead". No doubt he is a Captain.
But my vote goes for a silent leader in Jack Hughes. Playing 56 games, Hughes has always been cool calm and collected when playing great and also when he sucked out there. That attitude is contagious.
When Hughes speaks to the media, one thing I am very impressed is that he says what he feels and doesn't give the usual answer everyone wants to hear - he speaks from the heart!
Hughes also seems to be fostering relationships off the ice (after hanging with Smith, Bastian, McLeod), this is something the USA Team had in common, they all liked each other and hung out often off the ice. That builds chemistry!
Woo - Jack Hughes
It's all about the flow!
Advocate - Jack Hughes
Not since Gretzky have we seen the pre game warmups hair like this!
Woo - Damon Seversen
I personally love Damon Severson but that butt puck goal he was involved in was horrible. A lot of Devils fans hate him. I don’t. He started the season very well before the 16 day layoff. And we find out he played with an injury to end the season. I say give him the benefit of the doubt. He deserves better!
Advocate - Nico Hischier
My vote goes for Nico. In a year that was supposed to be his step up year, Nico battled injuries and an unlucky shot in the face which took him out longer. With only only 21 games (and being named Captain his first game back) Nico didn't have a chance to fully establish himself and take that next step. Although I like what I saw, he deserves this year's Unlucky Devil Award.
Woo - Nikita GusevGusev flew south. Wish him much success.
Advocate - Andreas Johnsson
When I think of the Ghost award, I think of someone on the team that is always invisible. My vote goes to Johnsson. The first half of the season I often wondered what the heck he was doing out there, he was often in la la land. At times he showed some promise but he was underwhelming.
I don't think this Devils team has room for a player like that with the youth infusion and possibly adding some veterans via free agency or trade. Maybe Johnsson could do better in Seattle!
What do you think of the votes and awards?
What do you agree or disagree with?
In other news...
PK Subban has been nominated for this year's King Clancy Award.
This award goes to the player in the NHL who best demonstrates leadership qualities on and off the ice and who made a difference in the community.
Bringing his Foundation work through Montreal and Nashville, Subban established the Blueline Buddies program here in Newark. His philanthropic aspirations is something to notice and be proud of.
Devils signed goalie prospect Akira Schmid to the typical 3 year entry level deal.
Schmid was drafted in the 5th round of the 2018 draft. The Swiss will be added to the mix along with Nico Daws who was recently signed. The Devils goalie pipeline is the area of need, lets hope Schmid and Daws change that!
The Devils Advocate
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