Most Valuable Player: Ryan Getzlaf
Some have suggested that Getzlaf ought to be the MVP of the entire league this year. That’s an absolute stretch considering the work that Carey Price and Alex Ovechkin have done in dragging their teams into playoff contention. However, it’s without a doubt that Getzlaf has been the Ducks’ MVP.
Pacing the team with 68 points in 76 games, Getzlaf has been the Ducks’ only elite point producer. Teams routinely have to hone in on stopping his line, freeing up Anaheim’s other lines offensively.
An open and easy-going personality, Getzlaf leads by example on the ice and is building the case for himself as the greatest Duck of all time. Without usual running mate Corey Perry for chunks of the season, Getzlaf still managed to be outstanding offensively. An easy choice.
Newcomer Of The Year: Ryan Kesler
All the moves that general manager Bob Murray made at the trade deadline have sort of taken over the narrative about the Ducks, but let’s not forget that the most important move the Ducks may have made was actually in the summer of 2014 when Kesler was brought to town.
His point totals remained about par for the course in relation to his past few seasons, but his contribution to team success goes way beyond the box score. Tasked with difficult defensive zone faceoffs, Kesler put up an astounding 57.14 faceoff percentage while having over half of his zone starts in the defensive zone.
Kesler was consistently one of the Ducks’ best players at both ends of the ice on any given night. Without that, it’s difficult to imagine Anaheim jockeying for first place in the Western Conference. The American center is the ultimate “glue guy”; a player that can do it all and makes his team appreciably better.
The Scott Niedermayer Award: Hampus Lindholm
Sorry Chris Pronger, but Niedermayer is the franchise’s all time greatest defenseman. Thus, our defenseman of the year shall earn an award in his name. Luckily for the Ducks, they had a multitude of defensemen in 2014-15 who stood out on both ends of the ice.
Sami Vatanen was dynamite on the power play. Cam Fowler blended dynamic offense with solid defense. Hampus Lindholm was simply a rock defensively. Francois Beauchemin had a resurgent season. Clayton Stoner reminded us of a young Nicklas Lidstrom (wait a second…).
Lindholm, among all his peers, stood out above the rest. He played a big part in allowing Beauchemin to keep playing at a high level at his age. Lindholm posted the best possession rating of all Anaheim defensemen and never seemed to waiver in performance throughout the season.
Consistency is crucial on the blueline, and Lindholm is a master of it, playing like the kind of defenseman that all elite teams need to succeed.
Most Improved Player: Rickard Rakell
No team can even start dreaming of winning the Stanley Cup without depth at center. Take a quick look at every team that’s won it all in the last five seasons; each was absolutely stacked down the middle. In past seasons, part of the reason for the Ducks’ playoff undoing was the Ducks’ didn’t have an elite top three centers.
Rakell has stepped in and emphatically filled that third line center role. A relative unknown around the league before this season, Rakell posted a respectable nine goals and 22 assists while playing in 71 games. Goals and assists only tell part of the story though, as he consistently had some of the best possession numbers of any Ducks forward, often elevating the play of his wingers. Expect big things from Rakell in the future.
Felix Sicard is the Anaheim Ducks’ Lead Writer for The Hockey Writers. Now in his third season of covering the team, he writes previews and recaps for all Ducks’ home games, as well as weekly analysis pieces.
In addition to covering the Ducks at THW, Felix co-hosts SB Nation’s Anaheim Calling: The Podcast, as well as hosting The Garage Hockey Podcast.
For consistent Ducks’ content, be sure to check out his Twitter @Felix_Sicard.