|(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)|
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 winner: T.J. Brennan, Toronto Marlies
Texas media ballot:
- T.J. Brennan, Toronto Marlies
- Robbie Russo, Grand Rapids Griffins
- Connor Carrick, Toronto Marlies/Hershey Bears
T.J. Brennan, Toronto Marlies
Stephen: We were so sure of the outcome of this award that I started writing the analysis yesterday. There is positively no question that T.J. Brennan was the best defenseman in the AHL this season. In fact, he has a decent argument for the best player overall.
At the time of voting, he was ranked second in points (now third thanks to an NHL call-up) and is the only defenseman in the top 15 of AHL scoring. The Marlies have been insanely good all season and his veteran presence has been a huge part of that. He shows he’s not just a power play specialist with a plus-36 rating as well.
The last time he had numbers this good was 2013-14 when Texas faced him, Drew MacIntyre and the rest of the Marlies in the Western Conference Finals. Toronto will surely settle for nothing less than the Cup after the season they have been having. Brennan could find himself hoisting a Cup and maybe a playoff MVP trophy when all is said and done.
Robbie Russo, Grand Rapids Griffins
Sean: We’ve spoken quite a bit about the Grand Rapids rookie over the past two weeks. We had him on our AHL All-Rookie and AHL All-Star ballot. Plus/minus isn’t always the best way to measure a player, but Russo sitting at plus-44 with three games remaining is pretty indicative of his season.
He’s solid in both ends, he passes the eye test with his play. Detroit made a nice pickup when they signed him as a free agent last summer.
Connor Carrick, Toronto Marlies/Hershey Bears
Stephen: There were a lot of good choices in the margins past the top two. Sean and I considered Brandon Montour, but our apprehension over his defensive abilities outweighed his scoring prowess for us. In the end, we went with another Marlie, Connor Carrick.
He spent most of the season with Hershey, where he racked up a plus-23 in just 47 games of work. If he’d maintained that pace all season, he would have bested the winner of this award with a plus-37. Carrick was traded to the Marlies and then called up to the NHL immediately. At the time of voting, Carrick hadn’t played a game with the Marlies yet. His limited body of work was impressive though, and that slotted him third on our ballot.
Up Next: Rookie of the Year