Thursday, 10 March 2011

Fifth Annual Best of the East Results


Every year when I conduct the Best of the East Poll, and tabulate the results, I come to the realization how many good players there are in the Western Hockey League.

Goaltenders winning the Western Hockey League's Player of the Year Award is a rarity, happening just five times in the last 27 seasons.

However, if you listen to the General Managers, Coaches and Players in the Eastern Conference, Red Deer's Darcy Kuemper could join that elite list this year.

Kuemper outdistanced WHL Scoring leader Linden Vey to win the Most Valuable Player honour in my fifth annual Best of the East poll.

Kuemper leads the WHL in wins, goals against average, save percentage and shutouts.

The MVP vote was really a two-horse race, with Red Deer scoring sensation Ryan Nugent-Hopkins finishing third in the balloting.

Kuemper's outstanding season also earned him a unanimous selection as the top goaltender in the Eastern Conference, garnering all 27 first-place votes from the other 11 teams.

Medicine Hat's Tyler Bunz was #2 in the Top Goaltender category, with Moose Jaw's Thomas Heemskerk rounding out the top three.

Kuemper wasn't the only double-winner from the Red Deer Rebels in the Best of the East

Rebels' defenceman Matt Dumba was named the Eastern Conference's Top Rookie and Best 16-year old player, edging out Medicine Hat's Hunter Shinkaruk for both honours.

Speaking of defencemen, Saskatoon's Stefan Elliott is also having an outstanding season.

Elliott was the unanimous choice as the top Offensive Defenceman, and for good reason.

The Colorado draft pick leads all blueliners in goals and points this season.

Elliott's more stay-at-home teammate Teighan Zahn won the Top Defensive Defenceman category.

In both categories, Elliott and Zahn edged out Kootenay's Brayden McNabb and Red Deer's Alex Petrovic in the voting.

McNabb wasn't going to denied a top billing in at least one category in the poll, though, as he won the Hardest Shot Category.

Linden Vey of the Medicine Hat Tigers won the most accurate shot category, beating out Kootenay's Cody Eakin.

Eakin won two categories -- Best Face-off Man and Best Skater.

Medicine Hat's Wacey Hamilton took the Top Defensive Foward award while also finishing among the top three in the top faceoff man department.

Saskatoon's Brayden Schenn took home a pair of awards as well, edging out top 2011 prospect Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for Best Pro Prospect and narrowly beating out Cody Eakin for the Opposing Player You Most Respect category.

A pair of Moose Jaw Warriors are apparently tough to play against.

New York Rangers' first round pick Dylan McIlrath edged Brandon's Michael Ferland as the Eastern Conference's Toughest Player.

Meanwhile, Warriors' forward Cody Beach was named the Most Irritating Player.

Behind the Bench, Red Deer's Jesse Wallin was voted the Best Coach in the Eastern Conference.

Saskatoon's Lorne Molleken was #2 in the Best Coach Department while winning the Top Executive or General Manager Category.

The three Best Referees in the WHL, according to those on the ice and behind the bench are, in order, Andy Thiessen, Regan Vetter and Chris Crich.

A couple of other poll questions included one regarding Head Hits and Concussions in the WHL.
The question asked on a scale of 1-10, 10 being very concerned, how concerned are you about head hits / concussions in the Western Hockey League.
It appears there is a lot of concern around the league, with the average from the 30 ballots filled out being 7.0.
Five votes came in as 10 and about half the ballots, 13, including numbers of eight or higher.
Five ballots came in at the low end of four or lower.

The other fun question on the poll was How Many Hours per day do you spending reading or scanning WHL-related blogs, newspaper articles and internet sites. The average from the 30 ballots was 48 minutes a day, with a high of two hours and a low of zero minutes.

As always, special thanks to the General Managers, Coaches and Players of the Eastern Conference for taking the time to fill out and return their ballots to me.

WHL Eastern Conference General Manager/Coaches/Players Poll (Final Results)

What player is most valuable to his team?

1) Darcy Kuemper - Red Deer (18 1st-place votes)
2) Linden Vey - Medicine Hat
3) Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Red Deer

Note: It was a two-horse race between Kuemper and Vey. Nugent-Hopkins was a distant third. Mark Stone only Wheat King to garner any votes, appearing on five ballots.

Best Goaltender?

1) Darcy Kuemper - Red Deer (Unanimous, 26 1st-place votes)
2) Tyler Bunz - Medicine Hat
3) Thomas Heemskerk - Moose Jaw

Top Rookie?

1) Matt Dumba - Red Deer
2) Hunter Shinkaruk - Medicine Hat
3) Tyler Pitlick - Medicine Hat

Note: Ryan Pulock appeared on five ballots.

Best 16-year old Player?

1) Matt Dumba - Red Deer
2) Hunter Shinkaruk - Medicine Hat
3) Griffin Reinhart - Edmonton

Note: Ryan Pulock appeared on six ballots.

Best Defensive Defenceman?

1) Teighan Zahn - Saskatoon
2) Brayden McNabb - Kootenay
3) Alex Petrovic - Red Deer

Best Offensive Defenceman?

1) Stefan Elliott - Saskatoon (Unanimous, 25 1st-place Votes)
2) Brayden McNabb - Kootenay
3) Alex Petrovic - Red Deer

Best Pro Prospect (Drafted or Undrafted)?

1) Brayden Schenn - Saskatoon
2) Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Red Deer
3) Cody Eakin - Kootenay

Best Coach?

1) Jesse Wallin - Red Deer
2) Lorne Molleken - Saskatoon
3) Derek Laxdal - Edmonton

Top Executive/GM?

1) Lorne Molleken - Saskatoon
2) Jeff Chynoweth - Kootenay
3) Kelly McCrimmon - Brandon

Top Defensive Forward?

1) Wacey Hamilton - Medicine Hat
2) Curtis Hamilton - Saskatoon
3) Cam Braes - Lethbridge

Top Face-off Man?

1) Cody Eakin - Kootenay
2) Brayden Schenn - Saskatoon
3) Wacey Hamilton - Medicine Hat

Best Skater?

1) Cody Eakin - Kootenay
2) Emerson Etem - Medicine Hat
3) Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Red Deer/Quinton Howden - Moose Jaw (Tie)

Who has the Hardest Shot?

1) Brayden McNabb - Kootenay
2) Myles Bell - Regina
3) Stefan Elliott - Saskatoon

Who has the most Accurate Shot?

1) Linden Vey - Medicine Hat
2) Cody Eakin - Kootenay
3) Byron Froese - Red Deer

Toughest Player?

1) Dylan McIlrath - Moose Jaw
2) Michael Ferland - Brandon
3) Darian Dziurzynski - Saskatoon

Most Irritating Player?

1) Cody Beach - Moose Jaw
2) Darian Dziurzynski - Saskatoon
3) Cason Machacek - Lethbridge

Opposing Player You Most Respect?

1) Brayden Schenn - Saskatoon
2) Cody Eakin - Kootenay
3) Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Red Deer

Best Referee?

1) Andy Thiessen
2) Regan Vetter
3) Cris Crich

On a scale of 1-10, 10 being very concerned, how concerned are you about the head hits / concussions in the Western Hockey League?

Average: 7.0
Highest: Five votes as 10.
Popular: 8/10 had 10 votes.
Low: 2 (1), 3 (1), 4 (3)

On average, how many hours per day to you spend reading / scanning WHL-related blogs, newspaper articles, internet sites, etc.?

Average: 48 Minutes
High: 2 Hours
Low: 0 minutes

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow, very shocked that Pulock wouldn't be considered a top 3.