Contrary to popular belief, I have no insider info whatsoever as to who will win the 2012-2013 Red Deer Rebels Player Awards tonight.
But... as a guy who follows the team closely all season long... I should probably offer up my thoughts on the awards in the form of some predictions (which never ever work out well for me in the end).
Thankfully, at least one of this year's awards is an absolute slam dunk...
TOP DEFENCEMAN - MATHEW DUMBA
Without a doubt, this award brings with it the most debate. I agree with my counterpart @GregMeachem that if this were December, Haydn Fleury would be the winner. My unofficial Twitter poll today gave the nod to Brady Gaudet. But we all knew at the start of the season that this award would be Mathew Dumba's award to lose. Has he done enough through the course of the season to lose it? My opinion... no.
- Did he have a shaky start to the season? Yes.
- Has he been as consistent this season compared to last? Probably not (although is +/- is 17 points higher).
- Would I like to see more from Dumba in his own end? Yup.
But when all is taken into consideration, the point remains that Dumba is the best defenceman on this team.
I also agree with Greg that Dumba's play has steadily improved over the final quarter of the season, especially since his two week stint being with the Minnesota Wild. That experience is proving to be invaluable.
With special teams being such a huge factor heading into playoffs, Dumba is tied for the team lead in powerplay goals (6) and powerplay assists (14) tied in both categories with Rhyse Dieno (interestingly, Charles Inglis still has the Rebels season lead with 7ppg).
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR - HAYDN FLEURY
This guy is gonna be a star. The 16 year old blueliner is already showing he has the ability to be a dominant player at both ends of the rink. Conner Bleackley has also shown similar flashes of brilliance but making an impact as a first year d-man gives Haydn the nod here.
MOST UNDERRATED PLAYER - JOEL HAMILTON
Plenty of candidates for this award including Brooks Maxwell and Tyson Ness up front and Brandon Underwood and Davan Fafard at the back end. But in my humble opinion, Joel Hamilton constantly flies under the radar with his contributions to this team. He only has nine goals, four of which are powerplay markers, but he's just behind the team lead with 28 helpers. Pretty good stuff from a guy who spends most games toiling on the third line.
PLAYERS AWARD - TURNER ELSONAlways tough to predict an award which is voted on by the players themselves... but they definitely love their Captain.
If you haven't already, hit me up on Twitter (@Troy_Gillard) and share your winners. Or even better... post your thoughts on here. These are the kind of debates that always make for some fun discussion.