|(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)|
Runner up: Denis Gurianov
(20-28=48 in 57 games, plus-2, 12 PIMs, 3 GWGs, 4 PPGs)
The Russian winger had a fantastic year in the AHL and probably should not find himself in Cedar Park again. However, this year, he was in the minors and excelled. At times, Gurianov would completely take over a game in the way that he can in the A. His elite speed was put to good use on defense as well as offense this year as he worked to jet out of the defensive zone and create scoring opportunities the other way.
Runner up: Erik Condra
(20-34=54 in 71 games, minus-6, 64 PIMs, 8 PPGs, 16 PPAs)
Condra was a huge get of a signing. In the middle of the season, he was as high as third in the league scoring table. After a callup to Dallas, his performance tailed off and he had a less productive back half of the year. Still, he was prolific. He notched 24 points on the Texas power play, which was ranked #3 in the regular season. One might argue that Condra should be the team MVP, but I point to the club's performance after the departure of our winner, Justin Dowling, to Dallas and how they struggled without him. Condra also had a less consistent season.
Winner: Justin Dowling
(13-40=53 in 62 games, minus-6, 12 PIMs, 4 PPGs, 19 PPAs)
Justin Dowling was named Texas Stars captain early in the season and lived up to the billing as a leader both on and off the ice. He scored a career-best 53 points including another career-best 40 assists. He was deployed in all situations and put up huge numbers on the power play (23 points).
I lean toward Dowling as MVP over Condra because of his consistency across the season and how much the team struggled without him in the lineup. Texas was 0-5 without Dowling in the lineup until March, when he was called up for good and Texas got some ATO reinforcements. Even then, Texas went 5-8-0-1 without Dowling across the year. Condra, by comparison, saw Texas go 4-0-0-1 when he was out of the lineup.
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