Thursday, April 14, 2016

Texas Media Chapter Reveals Rookie of the Year Ballot

(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
The American Hockey League has begun announcing the 2015-16 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. Today’s ballot: the Garrett Award for Rookie of the Year.

It’s important to note that we aren’t allowed to vote for Texas Stars, since we cover the team. And, due to the nature of the AHL scheduling, we haven’t seen an Eastern Conference team or player this season (Texas has played three Eastern Conference teams all-time: the Hershey Bears, St. John’s IceCaps, and Syracuse Crunch).

Keep that rule and guideline in mind. We can’t vote for Texas, and we tend to vote for Western Conference players.

Award winners: Mikko Rantanen, San Antonio Rampage and Frank Vatrano, Providence Bruins

Texas media ballot:

  1. Mikko Rantanen, San Antonio Rampage
  2. Frank Vatrano, Providence Bruins
  3. Robbie Russo, Grand Rapids Griffins

Mikko Rantanen, San Antonio Rampage
Frank Vatrano, Providence Bruins

Stephen: Well, there’s probably no better example of the East/West split than the Rookie of the Year award being split between the best rookie in the West and the best rookie in the East. Being Western Conference voters, we slotted Rantanen at the top of our ballot.

This is one of the ballots that I would really love to see the raw data on. I really wonder how polarized the voting was by conference. My theory is that pretty much every western teams’ reps (media, team and coaches) went Rantanen at the top and every eastern went Vatrano. And then the other was second on each of those ballots. Part of that comes from the fact that neither San Antonio nor Providence crosses conference. (Providence doesn’t even play every team in their own conference but that’s not the point right now.)

Sean: I too would like to see the raw data on this one. I would imagine that Rantanen and Vatrano each appeared first or second on 29 of the 30 ballots. (Remember San Antonio and Providence voters can’t vote for their own player).

It was clear both players are deserving of the honor, but we had Rantanen first on our ballot and we watched him play more than any other media contingent in the league. The Avalanche first-round pick was remarkably good on a very bad team and did it as a teenager in league with a de facto 20-year-old age limit.

Rantanen is plus-19 this season on a team that finished minus-24 as a group.

Stephen: And all this is a way of saying to Providence and San Antonio fans, “Hope you enjoyed them, because they are never coming back.” Both had significant time in the NHL and will probably start there and stay there next season. (Rantanen’s 9 games is significant since it’s the most he can play without burning a year on his entry level contract.)

Robbie Russo, Grand Rapids Griffins

Sean: Picking a third player on the ballot was an exercise we likely put more time into than necessary, it was clear Vatrano or Rantanen (turns out both) would win.

However, we decided on Russo because of his role as a rookie defenseman on a team that turned around the season. We’ve talked about him at length on our All-Rookie team and Shore ballot, so I’ll refer back to that for more on the Griffins rookie.

Stephen: The debate was difficult because we both thought Jason Dickinson was deserving of recognition for this award. Of course, we couldn’t vote for him, so we considered Russo the best among a crop that included Milwaukee goalie Juuse Saros and a few others.

Up next: MVP

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