Welcome back for part 3 of our 2017-18 Detroit Red Wings season review. In part 1, I took a deep dive into the Wings offensive and defensive efforts at 5-on-5. In part 2, I explored their goaltending and special teams game. Now, in part 3, we are going to hand out awards to players for their individual efforts this season.
Here’s how it’s going to work. We have renamed real life NHL awards with names of Red Wings legends and awarded them to the players who we felt best exhibited the qualities of the award. So the Norris Trophy will go to the team’s best defenseman, but it’s name will be changed to that of a Red Wings legendary defenseman.
Now, as for the selection committee, we at WingsNation have a critical, objective, and 100% unbiased group of Red Wings fans on staff. We debated all season long and deliberated over hours in our Slack group to never reach a consensus on who should get these awards.
Without further ado, here are the results that we couldn’t reach an agreement on.
The Pavel Datsyuk Award
Also known as “The Selke Trophy”, the Pavel Datsyuk award is given to the forward who demonstrates the most skill in the defensive component of the game. Datsyuk was a three time Selke Award recipient in his time with the Red Wings and dazzled us all with his effortless puck management skills.
This year’s Pavel Datsyuk Award recipient is none other than Luke Glendening!
Glendening is basically a defenseman. He doesn’t have the hands that Datsyuk did, but his play in the defensive zone was admirable and constant. He led all forwards with 83 blocked shots and had the best faceoff win percentage on the team (58%). He was leaned on heavily in defensive situations and on the penalty kill. He is the true definition of a grinder and could arguably be called this generation’s Kris Draper.
The Roger Crozier Award
Roger Crozier was the last Red Wing rookie to win the Calder Trophy. That was back in 1965. It’s been 53 years and counting since a Red Wing rookie last won this prestigious award. Since they won’t be winning the Calder Trophy this year either, let’s hand out the Roger Crozier Award to the Wings’ best rookie in 2017-18 instead.
Since the Wings are infamous for not including young players on their rosters, the pickings were slim on this one. It came down to two rookies and Tyler Bertuzzi just barely came out ahead.
Bertuzzi started out the year in Grand Rapids after hurting himself in training camp. When he was called up in December, Bertuzzi exploded out the gate, putting up 0.50 points-per-game through the rest of the year. His fiery play earned him a spot on the team’s top line with captain and playmaker extraordinaire Henrik Zetterberg.
Lil’ Bert has earned himself a permanent spot on the Red Wings roster going forward. He’s only getting better from here, but his rookie campaign was a great start for himself and the team.
The Nick Lidstrom Award
I think it’s pretty clear which NHL award this one is, considering it’s named after the best defenseman of the last generation. This was definitely the most controversial award among the members of our selection committee. Interestingly, there wasn’t big support for Mike Green, who led all defensemen in points, but lacked big time defensively. It came down to Nick Jensen and Trevor Daley.
Since I get the tie breaking vote, I’m going with Nick Jensen.
Jensen is one of the only Red Wings defensemen who had positive possession stats this season. He’s certainly not a top-2 defenseman (none of the Wings blueliners are), but he’s actually a good bottom-pairing guy. He’s a good skater and can break out of the zone well with the puck. Not a huge scorer, but he did have 15 helpers this season.
He’s no Nick Lidstrom, but he’s all we have right now.
The Steve Yzerman Award
Back in his playing days, Steve Yzerman always exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability. Hey, that sounds just like the description of the Lady Byng Trophy!
Since Stevie is the ultimate Red Wings legend, we needed to incorporate him into our awards somehow and we felt his leadership was perfect for this one. Speaking of leadership, the recipient of this year’s Steve Yzerman Award has been this team’s fearless leader for the last six years. It’s none other than Henrik Zetterberg.
Zetterberg had the least amount of penalty minutes among his teammates with 14. What a nice guy! He always handled himself with class, poise, and respect in post-game media scrums, even though the team was losing far more than they were winning. Combine that with his solid offensive contributions (56 points in 82 games) and you’ve got a perfect recipient of the Steve Yzerman Award.
The Gordie Howe Award
Gordie Howe always played with his Hart on his sleeve. I’m not sure anyone who suited up for the Red Wings over the years ever played with more Hart. Gordie set team and league records that still stand today. So when it came time to rename the league’s MVP trophy for the Red Wings, there was no other option really.
Narrowing down the Red Wings MVP for this season wasn’t as hard as you’d think. This young player had a huge bounce back year after a really soft sophomore outing. With added responsibility, he excelled as a 2-way centreman, contributing both on powerplay and the penalty kill. He led the team in points this season as the only roster player to score more than 60. He dazzled us with his speed and hockey IQ as he began to be handed the leadership reigns of the team.
Some call him Dylan, but most call him D-Boss, and his snipshow of a season was sometimes the only reason to tune in.
Dylan Larkin was easily this team’s most valuable player in 2017-18.
This concludes my 3-part 2017-18 Detroit Red Wings season review. For those who made it through it all, thank you for reading. Please leave your thoughts and opinions in the comment section below.
This was a tough season, but the future is bright in Detroit. With some strong defensive prospects in Grand Rapids and two first round picks in 2018, this rebuild is in full swing. We at WingsNation will be here through it all.