Monday, September 29, 2008

3rd annual (sortof) baby flames awards !!

two years ago during the last week of training camp, on my original eponymous blog (pre-hitthepost) i handed out a slew of awards to the baby flames. last year, in the midst of an incredibly busy period of work, i only managed to find the time to award the dreamcrusher, everyone’s favorite prize...

i realize there's still some time left in camp, but with most of the babies getting shipped back to their respective clubs this past weekend, i thought the lull in current flames activity provides me with a good time to fill up some space.

this year I’m going back to posting the full original awards lineup:

1. the TOMI MÄKI award
i've re-named this one, which was originally given out to to the most unassuming guy with no reputation whatsoever, who stood out as my favorite. tomi mäki took it the first year, i am heretofore naming it after him. this year it was already won in july's prospect camp by a guy who is not new to the baby flames awards (having taken home the title of ‘best shift’ in 2006). add to that an incredibly solid training camp, and john armstrong takes the prize hands-down... do me proud, man….

mikael backlund was unchallenged for this one. he was the frontrunner after july’s prospect camp, when he tried to do PMB’s spin move in a shootout drill, and it remains uncontested through exhibition play.

though he played 48 games in the NHL last year, dustin boyd's presence at this summer's prospect camp deems him eligible for these awards. i can't pinpoint a single shift during which boyd excelled, but let's face it ---the guy has six points in three pre-season games, so he's gotta be doing SOMETHING out there in 30-40 second increments.... of course, the ORIGINAL "best shift" award was a tongue-in-cheek kind of thing, so if i were to go THAT route, jamie lundmark (albeit debateably ineligible) would win it for his 19 minutes of penalties on a single play last week v. phoenix.

john negrin. a third round selection that is starting to look like he might pan out significantly better than most second rounders from 2007 [let’s thank chicago for picking maxime tanguay immediately before calgary’s turn]. he is calm and collected on the blueline and seems to have a strong sense of when to safely join the rush. he had a tough prospect camp due to illness, but excelled in training camp despite being saddled with eriksson... it’s hard not to get excited about the potential when talking about this guy….

unfortunately at this point, I’m gonna have give this one to matt pelech. I thought he was looking dubiously NHL-ready in july, but it translated into an epically slapstick performance in camrose (whereby he still won "hardest working player" from his teammates ---probably to take the sting out of his poor showing). once the nerves settled, he did fairly well but is still easily a year from the big club. i take full blame for being the one who rated him so high in july, and then was struck by his need for more maturity during the current camp, once i saw him exposed to actual comptetition.

sure we all know backlund’s good and negrin is surprisingly good. Clearly I think armstrong’s got a future, and greentree’s already a bubble guy. most underrated goes to david van der gulik. it’s too bad this guy flies so far under the radar cause I think he’s got some skills… he looks like he could be a strong checking forward in the vein of craig conroy... honorable mention goes to jd watt, who's game has improved thousandfold in the past year.

the jig is up, flames fans. curtis mcelhinney may have won the backup spot on the big club, but I still think matt keetley will be a superior goaltender. i suppose we’ll have to wait and see who makes the final cut (get it ? it’s a keenan joke)… keetley takes home the award on the merit of a couple of awesome perfomances at the oil country tournament.

pete vandermeer goes home with this one, taking the handoff from the last winner, richie regehr. pete wins this one mostly cause he’s got a goatee and is from sylvan lake [and because michael ryder STILL doesn't wear red, so dan gets overlooked once again]...

9. BEST HOCKEY SENSE (aka: best prospect)
I think it’s unfair to award this to just one guy (though when taratukhin won it two years ago, the prospect cupboard seemed otherwise bare), so I’m gonna break it into two: forward and defense. Obviously your winners are backlund and negrin. See above for details… a special shoutout goes to greg nemisz, who also looks to have a great playmaking future.

kris chucko would clearly be an outstanding choice for this award again this year, but since he won it last year, I think we’ll move on (shall we ?). aki seitsonen would wear the crown proudly, as would kevin lalande, but I think this year’s award has GOT to go to carsen germyn. At 26 years of age, the guy has played all of four NHL games. i’m not gonna lie, he’s still got some hockey left in him and doesn't look nearly as bad as chucko on the ice, but will almost certainly spend the rest of his career in the A. the poor guy didn't even see exhibition game-action, for cryin' out loud....

(how many of you scrolled down to read the dreamcrusher first ?!?!?)

keep your eyes on this blog, there are some interesting and exciting things upcoming... more on this soon !!!

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