Early Season Maple Leafs Awards

Mike Komisarek has turned his season around enough to capture an early season award (PJMixer/Flickr)

We have passed the one-quarter point of the 2011-2012 NHL regular season, which means we now have a good idea of how most players and teams will perform this season. For the Toronto Maple Leafs, certain players have stuck out more than others.

Phil Kessel is one Leafs player who has had a great season thus far. He is tied for the league lead in both goals and points and has been crucial to the Maple Leafs’ success up to this point.

Joffrey Lupul is another. He has come back from various ailments that have forced him to miss a considerable amount of playing time over the last few years. This season, though, Lupul has emerged as one of the NHL’s top point-getters and is one half of the league’s most dynamic duo.

Those are just two players that deserve credit. Others are listed below in the early season edition of Maple Leafs awards.

Hart Memorial Trophy – Phil Kessel

Most valuable player

Kessel has been tearing up the NHL this season. As mentioned above, he leads the league in goals and points with 16 and 31 respectively. There is no doubt that he has been one of, if not the biggest reason the Leafs are second in the Eastern Conference.

Lady Byng Memorial Trophy – Mike Komisarek

Player who exhibits outstanding sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability

Komisarek went through a very tough stretch to begin the season; he was constantly taking penalties and putting his team in holes that were completely avoidable. When he was a healthy scratch against the Boston Bruins on October 20, Komisarek didn’t say anything. Instead, he replied by going plus-9 over his next seven games.

Vezina Trophy – Jonas Gustavsson

Top goalie

Gustavsson wins this award based on the sole fact that James Reimer has played in just seven games this season due to injury. While Reimer was injured, Gustavsson managed to hold down the fort for the most part, which allowed the Leafs to survive Reimer’s absence.

Calder Memorial Trophy – Jake Gardiner

Top rookie

Gardiner has been nothing short of great this season. Everyone expected him to start the season with the Toronto Marlies of the AHL, but he made the Leafs roster out of training camp and hasn’t looked back since. He owns a plus-1 rating and averages 20:22 of ice time per game, which is fourth on the team.

James Norris Memorial Trophy – Dion Phaneuf

Top defenceman

In 26 games this season, Phaneuf has three goals and 18 points and has emerged as the true leader on this Leafs squad. Phaneuf is also still the big-hitter that he has always been, which he has shown on various occasions. Earlier in the season, head coach Ron Wilson described Phaneuf as the NHL’s best defenceman “by a country mile.”

Ted Lindsey Award – Phil Kessel

Most outstanding player

Not much of an explanation is needed here. He has been nothing short of outstanding and hasn’t slowed down one bit.

Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy – Joffrey Lupul

Player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey

Not long ago, you would be hard-pressed to find someone who wouldn’t tell you that Lupul’s career was just about over, if not already. Multiple back problems had his career had jeopardy, but he has since worked his way back to be one of the NHL’s top scorers.

Frank J. Selke Trophy – David Steckel

Top defensive forward

Some people may say that Tyler Bozak is more deserving of this award, but why not a regular centre who has won 58.3 percent of his draws, is a staple on the penalty kill and is trusted when his team needs someone to shut down the opposing team? That is David Steckel in a nutshell.

King Clancy Memorial Trophy – John Michael Liles

Player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community

Not only is Liles a veteran player who can install great hockey knowledge into the minds of youngsters, but he is also very active in his own community. Since he joined the Maple Leafs, one of the things Liles has been known for is his organization Liles’ Buds, which recognizes students in grades one to eight who “perform an uncommon act of kindness or good deed within their school or community.”

Other notable awards that were left out include: Art Ross Trophy (most points), NHL Plus/Minus Award (best plus/minus rating) and the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy (most goals).

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