The Cannon writers recently came together to offer up our first quarter award winners. The votes were nearly unanimous, but there are a few surprises. We'd love to see your picks, hit up the comments!
The five categories that we voted on were:
1) Team First Quarter MVP
2) Buy / Sell - Three Players each
3) Biggest Surprise
4) Biggest Disappointment
5) First Quarter Highlight
|WRITER||1ST QUARTER MVP||BUY||SELL||BIGGEST SURPRISE||BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT|
|Andy||Dubinsky||Johansen, Dubinsky, Murray||Umberger, Nikitin, Johnson||Murray/Johansen||Umberger|
|Matt||Dubinsky||Johansen, Dubinsky, Jenner||Umberger, Nikitin, Johnson||Johansen||Scoring Issues|
|Mike||Dubinsky||Johansen, Dubinsky, Murray||Umberger, Boll, Johnson||Johansen||Anisimov|
|Jeff||Dubinsky||Johansen, Dubinsky, Murray||Umberger, Johnson, Boll/Nikitin||Johansen||Johnson|
|Dan||Dubinsky||Johansen, Dubinsky, Murray||Johnson, Boll, Comeau||Murray||Anisimov|
1) Team First Quarter MVP
Mike: Dubinsky has done it all for the Jackets. He's leading the team offensively, and his contributions on special teams have been important. He's the leader of this team.
Dan: This was a tough decision for me, but Dubi has showed to be the true leader of this club, and he plays hard every shift. He's scored several timely goals, including some very huge short-handed goals so far this season. When the team has been bad, he's been the guy willing to stand up and hold his team to account. It doesn't hurt that he's leading the team in points as of this writing. Honorable Mention: Ryan Johansen, Ryan Murray
Jeff: Dubinsky. He plays in all the zones, leads the team in scoring, has quickly become the conscience of the team. Put the "C"on him now.
2) Buy / Sell
Ryan Johansen - he's arrived, folks.Ryan Murray - We knew we had a special one in Murray, but he's been the team's best defenseman. He looks so poised out there.Brandon Dubinsky - He's the team MVP. Buy buy buy!
Sell:R.J. Umberger - He's had a few good games, but the overall contribution hasn't been there, especially when you see his cap number.
Jared Boll - You need toughness in the lineup, and the fact he wears an "A" tells you of his role in the locker room, but there's just not enough there to keep. Sell.
Jack Johnson - Where are you Jack?
Ryan Johansen - he's turning in a great season thus far in a year in which he's basically reaching that "now or never" threshold for developing into the top line center everyone hopes he can be.Ryan Murray - he's come as-advertised, or even better than advertised, in his rookie season. Smooth skating, great instincts, solid positioning, and a touch of offense when he's been so inclined. He's appeared to be the Jackets' most consistent defenseman thus far. Considering these are his first few games in the NHL, I'm buying him long-term as he hasn't even approached his ceiling yet.
Brandon Dubinsky - I was on record as being against his inclusion in the Rick Nash trade. I would say I've gone 180 degrees on that, given the leadership that he brings to the room as well as the fact that he's back to putting up points as well as being the solid PKer and two-way guy he showed last season.Sell:Jack Johnson - you can live with his defensive issues when he's putting up the points, but he just hasn't been doing it so far this season. He's been pretty bad defensively, and he's not contributing on offense like James Wisniewski is. It completely scuttles Johnson's value when you don't get the offense.
Jared Boll - that contract is awful. I don't put the value on what he brings to the table, and I can't wait to see the days when we roll a fourth line with three guys with speed and a touch of skill. There are enough guys willing to get physical as to make Boll rather obsolete, and yet he's got that ridiculous contract extension. Ugh. Sell!
Blake Comeau - I'm selling on Comeau because I don't think he fills a long-term role with this club. When the Jackets are fully healthy, they'll have too many forwards on one-way contracts. Comeau is a guy I'd look to trade if/when that happens. I just don't think he brings enough to the table to scratch a guy like Boone Jenner or Matt Calvert or even Michael Chaput if the entire roster is healthy.
Ryan Murray — the kid does it all, makes far fewer mistakes than you would expect and has saved Wiz — and the club — more times than I can count. Truly playing the best of any defenseman on the club at the moment. Has an unheralded, by nasty shot that he needs to use more.
Dubinsky — see above.
Johansen — doing so many things well right now, and really showing maturity. Honorable Mention to Jenner.Sell:
R. J. Umberger — for his money and his pedigree, he should be both a leader and a star, and he is neither, despite his fist bump position in the tunnel. Turns the puck over, cannot finish and makes bad decisions. He is the rally killer on the line, and his numbers are deceiving. He’s done more harm than good. Richards might be getting a hint of this as well.
Jack Johnson — simply playing awful hockey. Capable of so much, and does so little. He is defending like the opposition is wearing "no-contact" jerseys, and has not been the offensive presence he needs to be.
(Tie) Jared Boll and Nikita Nikitin — Boll tries, but he is just not a very good hockey player, and when we are healthy, there should be no room for him on the ice. Frequently looks clueless, bad in his own zone. Lots of grit, but please... Nikitin has regressed to the mean, though playing better of late. Still, trade him to Edmonton, maybe with Umberger, and get Yakupov and a pick.
Honorable Mention: Gaborik — but to be fair, he’s been hot and cold, but cold at the wrong time, which makes it seem worse. I’d put Richards here too, but that’s a topic for another day.
3) Biggest Surprise:
Mike: I was hoping that this would be the year Johansen broke out, but I tempered my expectations before the season. It's been such a surprise to see him blossom into a young star.
Matt: Ryan Johansen's step forward. Even if he was "expected" to improve, I don't think anyone saw him taking control of the #1 role.
Dan: Ryan Murray. I know he came with a highly touted pedigree, but to say I expected him to play this well this early would be crazy. I expected some growing pains, not only because he's a rookie, but because he basically missed 9 months of hockey last season. He's made some mistakes, for sure, but he's been the most consistent blue-liner so far in my opinion, and to say I expected that coming into the season would be untrue. I was even advocating he start out in Springfield back at the beginning of camp if he didn't look ready. He's more than shown that he belongs here, and hopefully he's just scratching the surface of where he can go.
Jeff: Tough call here. The contenders are Murray — not because I didn’t think he would play well, but simply the degree to which he has been able to step in and take over — McElhinney, who I frankly thought was going to be vaporized with his slow glove, and Jenner — who has shown a more complete game than I expected, and really creates a lot on the ice. The injury came at an awful time for him, as I think he’s ready to take off offensively. But the winner is Johansen, who has really made the transition from tentative youngster to borderline dominant talent. He has shown the ability to use that body and skill to advantage, and is still working on honing the offense. He is dangerous virtually every shift.
4) Biggest Disappointment:
Mike: Artem Anisimov really frustrates me. He's got a ton of skill, but he hasn't produced. He's had prime opportunities, like playing with Gaborik, but he has struggled to put up points. With the big guns out with injury, he would be one of the first guys needed to step up, and he hasn't yet.
Matt: Scoring issues. There are a lot of factors (Gaborik's slump, injuries, Foligno's off-ice concerns, etx), but this team was supposed to be finding more scoring, and outside of Cam, Johan, and Dubi, we aren't seeing it.
Dan: Artem Anisimov. It's early, and I know he can bounce back, but he has not looked like the player we saw last season. He looks tentative at times, and doesn't seem to have the offensive abilities we know he showed last season. Playing with Gaborik has helped, but he just hasn't looked like the player we know he can be, and frankly that the Jackets need him to be.
Jeff: Gaborik is a candidate, but not a winner here, as he had a good start, and hit a bad streak, which even Nash had. He might not be a long term fit, but at least Jarmo didn’t serve up the four year $32 million contact that Howson would have presented at Day 1. Umberger is a candidate — but frankly I did not expect much, so tough to disappoint. Anisimov might be a candidate, but in my view he has been more the victim of some bad breaks and questionable play from line mates. He also had a good start, and will get untracked. So, the winner is Johnson, who should be leading this club in so many ways, but simply has failed to do it. Honorable mention to Wisniewski here, who is saved solely because he has been able to consistently put the point shot on net, and has amassed a ton of assists as a result. Defensive play has been poor.
Four of us chose the same play as our top highlight- Dubinsky's goal against the Leafs. Andy chose Ryan Johansen's breakaway goal against the Islanders as his top highlight, another great option.