The Bruins have already come away from the 2010-11 season with hockey’s ultimate prize, so any other hardware earned is just icing on the cake. Zdeno Chara and Tim Thomas each have a chance to taste that icing at the NHL Awards in Las Vegas on Wednesday, while rookie Brad Marchand sits at home as one of the NHL’s biggest snubs.
With a veteran-like combination of skill, poise and arrogance, it’s easy to forget that Marchand just finished his rookie season. It’s a shame, though, that he won’t be in Vegas as one of the finalists for this year’s Calder Memorial Trophy, awarded annually to the league’s top rookie.
He not only deserves to be a finalist, he deserves to win the award.
Sure, Marchand probably doesn’t care that he wasn’t nominated for the individual accolade. Through one full season, he has a Stanley Cup to his credit, helped rack up a $150,000 bar tab at SHRINE and has the city of Boston eating out of the palms of his 23-year-old hands.
But it’s always nice to add a little something more to the trophy case.
The NHL Awards are based on regular-season performance, which therefore makes Marchand’s sensational postseason moot when it comes to discussing his Rookie of the Year-worthiness — after all, if his 11-goal, 19-point postseason was taken into account, it wouldn’t have even been a debate as to whether or not Marchand should be a finalist for the honor because he would have been the hands-down winner.
His 11 playoff goals are the most by any rookie in Bruins franchise history and tied for the second-most in NHL history with Boston native and United States Hockey Hall of Famer Jeremy Roenick.
But Marchand was no slouch during the regular season, either, and when you take into account his overall impact on the game and his contributions toward the Bruins’ success, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be sitting at The Palms waiting for his name to be called on Wednesday night.
All three of the award’s nominees — Logan Couture, Michael Grabner and Jeff Skinner — had significantly higher goal and point totals. Couture, Grabner and Skinner scored 32, 34 and 31 goals, respectively, while Marchand netted only 21. The B’s forward’s 41 points are far less than Skinner’s 63, which was the most among NHL rookies.
But Marchand’s total ice time per game is also significantly less than that trio of star rookies. Couture averaged 17:49 of ice time per game, while Skinner averaged 16:44 and Grabner averaged 15:05 — all much higher than Marchand’s 13:59 of ice time per contest.
And not only did Marchand’s ice time pale in comparison to that of the three nominees, but his time on the ice generally came in lower-percentage scoring situations, making his 41 points stand out a bit more.
In other words, in addition to looking at each player’s ice time per game, it’s important to look at when each player’s ice time occurred to fully grasp what their point total means.
Jeff Skinner and Logan Couture were key components of their team’s power-play units. Skinner’s 260:15 of power-play ice time was second only to Anaheim defenseman Cam Fowler when it came to rookies. Couture, meanwhile, logged 173:39 of power-play ice time. This equates to over three minutes of power-play ice time per game for Skinner, and 2:11 for Couture.
Grabner’s 54 seconds of power-play ice time per game is far less than those two, but it’s still higher than Marchand’s 32 seconds per game.
So why are all of these numbers relevant to the Rookie of the Year discussion?
Well, it shows that Skinner and Couture were placed in better scoring situations while on the ice, which is inevitably going to give them more scoring opportunities and subsequently more points.
Marchand, on the other hand, racked up the most shorthanded minutes of any of these four players and the fourth-most among rookie forwards. Yet, he still finished sixth among rookies in goals and ninth among rookies in points.
Grabner is the only rookie to score more shorthanded goals this season than Marchand — he had six to Marchand’s five.
The 23-year-old Grabner, who ironically began his career in Vancouver last season for 20 games before being shipped away in the trade that landed the Canucks Keith Ballard, was placed in situations similar to Marchand — not a lot of time on the power play and a key component of his team’s penalty kill.
But where exactly did the Islanders finish? That’s right, they were the second-worst team in the Eastern Conference and the fourth-worst team in the NHL. The Bruins, on the other hand, finished third in the Eastern Conference during the regular season.
And despite his limited opportunities on the Bruins power play, and the significant responsibilty of keeping opposing power plays at bay, Marchand still excelled offensively.
His plus-25 is far better than the batch of nominated rookies — Couture was plus-18, Grabner was plus-13 and Skinner was plus-3 — and second only to teammate Adam McQuaid when it comes to rookie plus-minus.
The plus-25 put Marchand in a tie with Jonathan Toews and Anze Kopitar, and is slightly better than Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Ryan Kesler and teammate David Krejci — some pretty impressive company.
Simply put, he did what was asked of him and then some.
But Marchand’s true value lies in the things you won’t see in the box score. His grit, relentlessness and passion is symbolic of the 2010-11 Bruins as a whole.
He’s a pesky, little agitator who came up as a third- or fourth-line grinder that could give you energy and minutes on the penalty kill. Not only did he give the Bruins that energy and those minutes, he became an offensive stud over time, eventually leading to his promotion to the second line to play alongside Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi — during which most of his offensive damage came.
So, yes, Brad Marchand probably doesn’t care that he won’t be honored in Las Vegas on Wednesday night, and Bruins fans probably shouldn’t either given what the team just accomplished.
But it doesn’t take away from the fact that Marchand deserves to add a little something more to his trophy case after a job well-done.
Do you think Brad Marchand should have been nominated for the Calder Memorial Trophy? Share your thoughts below.
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