With the inaugural season of BEARD Hockey wrapped and the playoffs about to begin, it's time to hand out the team awards in Calgary.
First of all, it is hard to believe that the regular season is completed already. It feels like we just started this up and felt the excitement of preparing for the Dispersal Draft. What a year it has been. Couldn’t have gone much better.
The Doug Riseborough "Holy ####, he did what?" Award
Picking at #2 in the Dispersal Draft, the Flames made Leon Draisaitl the 1st Flames player drafted to the organization. This guy is exactly the type of player that Calgary plans to build around. Big, strong, uber talented and young.
So, what does Theo Pepper do? He wastes very little time in trading him away for what some probably see as a controversial return. Calgary receives Cole Caufield, Owen Tippett and Jake Bean as well as the #4 overall (Marco Rossi). This early deal clearly established Calgary as a youth focused team. It also started a process of moving some of the vets out and bringing in young kids with potential.
Calgary had some early trouble at the G position for the first half of the year, that is until they acquired Linus Ullmark. The 27-year-old goaltender’s season could best be described as “sub-par” before arriving at the Scotiabank Saddledome. Once settled in, the quirky Ullmark proceeded to put the team on his back, finishing his Calgary stint with a 27-12-5 record, .922 save percentage and a 2.47 GAA. The Flames flat out miss the playoffs without Ullmark between the pipes.
The Craig Button "Oh no he didn’t!" Award
Very early in the Dispersal Draft, Calgary identified the prospect package for the Wild as their top choice. We had our sights set on Kirill Kaprizov from the very beginning and we were pleased to add him into our prospect pool along with his mates – Calen Addisson, Adam Beckman, and Matthew Boldy.
So, what does Theo Pepper do? He proceeds to trade all of ‘em over the early weeks of the season. Now, I can be forgiven for the other three players because I also brought in some very talented prospects over the course of the season - but trading Kaprizov? Not my finest moment as GM.
Young Robert Thomas was expected to perform well (I traded the aforementioned Kaprizov for him after all) but even I am surprised to see the 21-year-old leading the pro team in scoring. Since he arrived in Calgary, Thomas has shown a consistency to his game that belies a player of his age. He finishes with 27 goals and 60 points. Big things should be in store for this youngster in the future.
The Brett Hull Trophy (Farm player that will not be denied)
Much in the same way that Brett Hull forced his way onto the big club after an undeniable season for the Moncton Golden Flames in 86-87, 21-year-old Joshua Norris just finished up a tremendous rookie pro season of his own in Stockton, CA.
The center ends up with 39G 46A for 85 points and finished as one of the top face-off men in the league. All in all, a player that shouldn’t look out of place in the NHL next year and beyond.
All in all, Calgary has completed a memorable first regular season in BEARD Hockey. The team is healthy for the playoffs and beyond that, who knows? Perhaps a trade or two is on the horizon!