The Red Wings didn’t have their best season but it doesn’t mean that some select players didn’t have stand out years. We asked our staff to step up and give their takes on team awards.
We decided to vote on the team’s MVP, Rookie of the Year and Norris winners.
MVP: Have to go with the captain Henrik Zetterberg as the Red Wings most valuable player for this one. As the number 1C on a team that’s not the strongest down the middle, you could see easily whatever wingers got the opportunity to line up with Z saw their offensive point totals jump up a notch or two. Anthony Mantha came up and started off on fire while playing on the first line and once he was removed he slowed down big time. Then to close the year out Tatar and Nyquist were nearly point per game players for the final 20 games because they both played on the wing with Zetterberg. You can count on him skating hard every night and battling hard every shift while using his intelligence to make up for his losing a step on the many younger players in the league and Zetterberg proved this season that he still remains a star caliber player in the NHL.
ROY: It is a tough call to make but I am going with Andreas Athanasiou as my Rookie of the Year simply due to the wow factor he can bring at any moment of the game. AA definitely had some consistency issues with doing the little things properly and sometimes found himself in Blashill’s doghouse but with his incredible speed and stick handling combination, everyone had to be on the edge of their seat all year waiting for another highlight reel goal that could be coming from 72 in red. If you ever watch away team broadcasts you knew it did not take long for his speedy reputation to spread as almost every crew would make a comment on his game breaking skating ability. His 18 goals were also 2nd on the team this year.
Norris: Not a lot of options of this shaky defensive group for the Red Wings so I believe the easy choice for top defensemen on the team this season is Mike Green. He led the charge offensively and while there was a few nice surprises from other younger members of the D core, Green usually took on the toughest matchups and played fairly consistently on the defensive side as well. On the final year of his contract coming up you can expect more of the same from Green as he plays for one final big pay day after next season ends.
MVP: Zetterberg! It seems like we are all going to be in agreement for most of these and I’m no exception. The Wings captain was easily the most consistent player on the team the whole year. He was the key to most of the offensive production. The Wings could look flat for long stretches but Zetterberg always seemed to be pushing. That’s exactly what you want and need from your captain. I am beyond impressed that he played in all 82 games. Even in years when you can’t count on much — Hank’s always there.
ROY: I hate agreeing with everyone all the time but I have to go with Mantha as well. The kid looked great. On a team that was struggling he really put together a solid performance. His shooting is elite and he didn’t seem to fall behind the pace at all in the NHL. I can’t wait to see what he can do with a few more years under his belt and with Larkin and AA alongside him. The Wings have some tough calls to make and need to get some more talent locked up — but there is an exciting group already in Detroit!
Norris: Mike Green is really the only option for this category. He looked every bit like the player the Wings were expecting when they signed him. He has incredible offensive talent which showed this year but he also stepped up on defense as well. Green was the go-to for Blashill for most of the difficult matchups this year and he’s going to have to be the same next year as well. He looked much better tha last year and he absolutely stood out from the rest of the (admittedly weak) defensive corps this year.
MVP: My MVP pick is probably the same as most others. Henrik Zetterberg played like he’s 26 this season, putting up 68 points which dwarfed everyone else on the roster. Seriously, it’s not really close.
ROY: My ROY would go to Anthony Mantha. Though technically his second go-around in the NHL, it’s the first one where he earned any significant ice time. He didn’t blow anyone away, but his 36 points were a solid contribution to a strong rookie class.
Norris: Mike Green is my Norris winner from the Wings. Defensively and offensively he was pretty sound as usual this season. His 17-goal effort and multiple multi-goal games gave Wings fans a little hope in a season without much.
It seemed like all year whoever got moved to Z’s line suddenly started producing. He made anyone he played with better and looked like himself 5 years ago. He played like a legitimate top line center this year and without him, the wings would have been even more hard-pressed to score goals this year
Mantha was very impressive this year. He was confident, strong on the puck, won battles, and shot the puck out of this world. He is the wings’ most promising offensive threat moving forward. His goal scoring was good as expected, but I was also very impressed with his play making ability and defensive zone play as both look vastly improved.
He was the wings only Dman who was a significant offensive threat. He joined the rush, played tough minutes, and moved the puck well. His defensive game is not his strong-suit, but I think he did fine in his own end all year. Overall, Green cut down on his turnovers and improved his offensive game from year one to year two with the wings.