Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Matt Murray the Obvious Choice for Rookie of the Year, But Who's Next?

Charles Hudon (Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
The American Hockey League is announcing the 2014-15 year-end awards. As the media representatives for the Texas Stars, Stephen Meserve of 100 Degree Hockey and Sean Shapiro of the Austin American-Statesman submitted a ballot for each award. As winners are announced, we’ll break down the choices. Today’s ballot: the Dudley “Red” Garrett Award.

Keep the rule and guideline in mind from the first post: we can’t vote for Texas, and we tend to vote for Western Conference players.

Our ballot...
  1. Matt Murray, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins
  2. Charles Hudon, Hamilton Bulldogs
  3. Viktor Arvidsson, Milwaukee Admirals
Sean: We’re two-for-two this week. After nailing it on the Hunt Award yesterday we, like the rest of the voters, had Matt Murray on the top of our ballot for Rookie of the Year.

Matt Murray
Stephen: Murray’s numbers put him in the conversation for every award he’s eligible for this postseason from All-Rookie up to MVP. As the AHL press release notes, his season for the Penguins essentially rewrote the AHL record book for goaltending. He had 12 shutouts, a rookie record and beat out Barry Brust’s shutout streak with a 304 minute long clean sheet. He’s won Player of the Week and Goalie of the month twice each. It’s no contest.

Sean: So, we all agree, Matt Murray is the outstanding rookie in the AHL.

Let’s look at the rest of our ballot, starting with Charles Hudon from the Hamilton Bulldogs.

Hudon is second in rookie scoring with 55 points (17 goals, 38 assists), and he showed flashes of brilliance this past weekend when Hamilton visited Texas -- which was after our ballot had already been filed. He also impressed us more than Toronto Marlies’ forward Connor Brown, who leads the league in rookie scoring.

Brown’s numbers were impressive, but his overall play didn’t leave too much of an impact in our minds. And either way you slice it, no one was going to catch Murray on top of this ballot.

Stephen: It is too bad that we didn’t get a chance to see Hudon until the late season after ballots were due. The Bulldogs had a lackluster weekend overall against the Stars, and Hudon was held scoreless with a minus-3 rating. If we’d seen that Hudon, we might have swapped him down the ballot for our third choice, Milwaukee’s Viktor Arvidsson.

Sean: Remember, we can’t vote for Texas players, but I would like to take a moment to point out what Derek Hulak achieved this year. Hulak is currently seventh in rookie scoring with 44 points, and those who have seen him play are well aware of his impact in all three zones.

It’s also interesting to note that of the top-10 rookie scorers, Hulak is the only one not currently on an NHL contract.

Stephen: Voting for this award past spot #1 was difficult, probably similar to what other voters felt about last year’s race, when Curtis McKenzie led all rookies in scoring through the entire season and helped to lead Texas to the Kilpatrick Trophy. Of course, we couldn’t vote for McKenzie. We picked Ty Rattie instead, but it was a foregone conclusion for McKenzie.

Wrapping up the ballot was Arvidsson, who we also voted onto the All-Rookie team. In addition to finishing 3rd in rookie scoring, he looked very good in his games at the Cedar Park Center against Texas. We also noted the fact that Arvidsson contributed so much of the Admirals’ offense this season with 53 points, eleven higher than the next closest player.

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