Riley Damiani, Thomas Harley and Adam Mascherin All Worthy of AHL Awards This Year

(Credit: Mollie Kendall/Texas Stars)

Aside from the 2013-14 season, the Texas Stars have been hard-pressed to collect any year-end AHL hardware. Matt Fraser came close to the goal scoring title in 2012 and of course Willie Desjardins won the Pieri (Coach of the Year) in 2013, but otherwise, it's been a bare cupboard. This year, it's different.

With two dynamic rookies in Riley Damiani and Thomas Harley and a reinvigorated Adam Mascherin, the Stars should expect several post-season honors coming their way. Let's run down the case for each player and see what they might earn.

Note that All-Star teams will be honored by division, instead of per the entire league. This raises the likelihood that Texas will have multiple award winners.

Riley Damiani
11-25=36 in 36 GP
1st in rookie scoring
1st in centerman scoring
T-3rd in overall scoring

Damiani has been the rookie scoring leader pretty much wire to wire. Henderson's Jack Dugan pressed him a bit as the Stars hit a losing skid in March, but Damiani's nine points in eight games in May opened a gap that proved unbeatable. His point-per-game pace puts him in the conversation for three different awards. He should be a lock for two of them, and he's iffy on the third.

First of all, All-Rookie Team is a lock for Damiani. He's the leading scorer among all rookie players, so this is set. Next, AHL All-Star. This year with the divisional alignment, Damiani should be a lock here as well. He has two points on the next scorer behind him in the Central.

Finally, the case of Rookie of the Year. The only Star to ever win it was Curtis McKenzie. For Damiani, the case seems pretty simple at first. When you look at rookie scoring, he's up on Jack Dugan by four points. He was the leader across the season and clearly is a strong competitor. But the issue comes when you look at the goalies. 

Henderson's Logan Thompson was incredible this year (16-6-1, 1.96 GAA, 0.943 SV%). He might well win the Bastien (Goalie of the Year) as well as the rookie trophy. This is a tough one to predict as I'm not sure how well-known the success of Henderson has been broadly communicated this year. The lack of playoffs and low to no interdivisional play meant that many focused only on the teams they might encounter. I'd give this one even odds.

Thomas Harley
8-17=25 in 38 GP
9th in rookie scoring
1st in rookie defenseman scoring
2nd in defenseman scoring

Harley has two possible award avenues here. First to get it out of the way, he will receive votes for Defenseman of the Year (Eddie Shore Award), but I think that goes to Ryan Murphy. Harley's awards will come from the All-Star teams. My bet would be that Harley is a lock for the All-Rookie team with Calen Addison from Iowa. Then, Harley is a Central Division AHL All-Star on defense. 

In a normal year, I would question his plus-minus for the overall All-Star roster. Harley's minus-10 is not a great number for a D-man and his closest comparison, Addison, is plus-7. Also, Harley took 38 games to get his 25 points while Addison's 22 came in just 31. Max Lajoie from Chicago is the closest to sniping this, especially given Chicago's record, but it's unlikely given previous voting patterns.

Adam Mascherin
18-16=34 in 37 GP
3rd in left wing scoring
9th in overall scoring
3rd in goals

Mascherin's case was certainly stronger earlier in the season, even as recently as April. His best chance for an award then and now is the All-Star ballot. 

With the All-Star going to divisional races, Mascherin is indeed ranked third in Central Division scoring among forwards. If you go by straight scoring, Mascherin is in. However, here's the rub. With Damiani and Harley already on the All-Star ballot, how do you award 3/6 of the All-Star spots to a team that finished below .500 on the year? Mascherin would have had a better case if he were dominately at the top of the scoring race, but his candidacy falls because Chicago has a few solid options (Phil Tomasino and Tommy Novak) who got very close to his numbers in far fewer games and with a better team record.