|(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)|
Alright, I don't think that we need to have much hemming and hawing over who won this award. However, let's discuss some runners up.
Runner up: Nicholas Caamano
(12-12=24 in 72 games, plus-1, 91 PIMs, 3 GWGs, 2 PPGs)
Nicholas Caamano had a solid season for the Texas Stars. As players started being called up to Dallas midseason, Caamano was one of the players called upon to raise his game. He answered the bell with 10 of his 24 points coming in the last month of the season.
Runner up: Ben Gleason
(5-32=37 in 72 games, minus-8, 34 PIMs, 2 PPGs, 18 PPAs)
From Traverse City tryout to playing an NHL game this season, Gleason has had an eventful year. He was a productive member of the Stars top-3 power play with 20 of his 37 points coming with the man advantage. His puck moving skills were evident from game one and the late season addition of Joe Cecconi to his pairing made him even better. Cecconi, of course, is used to working with high-caliber offensive talent like his Michigan D partner Quinn Hughes.
Runner up: Adam Mascherin
(18-26=44 in 75 games, plus-10, 30 PIMs, 4 PPGs, 4 GWGs)
There is no question that Adam Mascherin can put up points. He nearly claimed the rookie scoring lead among Stars at the end of the season with his 44 point effort. However, he has a tendency to be streaky and score in bunches. He will be there for a few games and then disappear. Any player knows that consistency is key to time in the lineup. If Mascherin wants to head to Dallas, he needs to score more evenly across all games and have a less lumpy scoring line.
Winner: Joel L'Esperance
(30-15=45 in 54 games, minus-5, 23 PIMs, 13 PPGs, 7 PPAs, 5 GWGs)
This one felt pretty obvious. L'Esperance had a beastly first season. In just 54 games, he notched 45 points. The power play numbers are truly impressive as well. Thirteen power play goals leads all Texas skaters by four and puts him eighth in the league overall for PPGs. Texas Stars head coach Derek Laxdal regularly called him a "horse" of a competitor and compared him to Jay Beagle, an undrafted player who continues to enjoy NHL success after being signed to Idaho by Laxdal out of the University of Alaska Anchorage. L'Esperance's scoring line also showed what he was: a scorer first. He can distribute, but he's most dangerous when he's the triggerman. His five game-winners show that as much as anything.
I'm expecting that L'Esperance will be a bubble player when the year begins. Under contract for the coming season still on his ELC, he has a healthy chance to make the team out of camp and if not, be the first callup to Dallas when the need arises.
MVP coming soon...