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Fans Choice Awards 2011: John and Troy weigh in

by Staff Writer / Chicago Blackhawks
Now that all the nominees for's Fans Choice Awards 2011 have been revealed, Blackhawks radio voices John Wiedeman and Troy Murray weighed in and share their picks for each of the categories.

To cast your vote in the Fans Choice Awards, celebrating the best players and moments of the 2010-11 season, click here.

Best Newcomer
Nominees: Chris Campoli, Michael Frolik, Nick Leddy, Viktor Stalberg


John and Troy’s Pick: Leddy
Troy's take: “I think Nick deserves it; he was definitely the best surprise of this season. Coming in as a 19-year-old, it was encouraging to see him play so well right from the beginning and give himself an opportunity to stay here. When he came back later in the season, I saw what an excellent approach to the game he had – how calm he was out on the ice, even being put into key situations. Leddy came a long way.”

John's take: "Nick was the most consistent performer among the newcomers. They were all very good at times and in their own way, but I think he stayed consistent throughout the entire year and seemed to get better as he gained experience. That's what you want to see."

Most Improved Player
Nominees: Bryan Bickell, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Tomas Kopecky, Brent Seabrook


John and Troy’s Pick: Bickell
Troy's take: “This year marked Bryan’s first regular taste of NHL action. He had some great stretches over the season, contributed in a big way and scored 17 goals. I thought he made some great strides in learning what it takes to play in the National Hockey League on a consistent basis. With one year under the belt, I’d look for further improvement next year and over his career."

John's take: "This was the toughest one for me to decide. Bickell, to me, seemed to understand what was expected of him when he came to training camp, knowing that there was a chance to make the NHL roster, and he seized the opportunity. He made the most of it; he showed talent as a scorer, as a hitter and as a team player and worked himself into a position where he was relied upon a great deal. Joel Quenneville and the coaching staff knew they could depend on him more and more."

Best Defenseman
Nominees: Brian Campbell, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook


John and Troy’s Pick: Seabrook
Troy's take: “You look at the players who were back there: Campbell’s plus/minus was tremendous, but injuries limited him earlier in the year; Hjalmarsson was good as well, and Duncan certainly had his moments. But performance over all 89 games favored Brent Seabrook; he put up career numbers in assists and points. He was the most consistent defenseman throughout the year.”

John's take: "Not to take anything away from the other three nominees, but Seabrook demonstrated leadership, dependability and solid play all year long. His entire game was the best of all of the defensemen in the Blackhawks stable. I'm not surprised that he racked up career-best numbers this season."

Best Forward
Nominees: Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews


John and Troy’s Pick: Sharp
Troy's take: “It’s a really tough call, but I have to go with Patrick Sharp. I think Jonathan Toews was tremendous, and his consistency was a huge part of his game because he brings it every night. But Sharp was a consistent threat throughout the season. From the start to the finish, even when he wasn’t scoring he was still getting good chances. His play all season long was excellent.”

's take: "Had he not gotten injured later in the season, Sharpy would probably be a shoo-in for this award, as he was clearly the Blackhawks' most dangerous forward and on pace for career-highs and for being the team's leading scorer. He had help when he was on the line with Toews and Kane in February and March and was really at his best right before his late-season injury."

Play of the Year

John's pick: Ben Smith's Game 6 OT goal
“That was by far the most memorable game for me. It was a fitting way to end what turned out to be the last home game of the 2010-11 season; I remember the incredible crowd reaction when they saw the puck go in. Ben Smith might just be getting started with those kinds of plays. It’s a look to the future, and it's very exciting to consider.”

Most Valuable Player
Nominees: Corey Crawford, Patrick Kane, Brent Seabrook, Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews


John and Troy’s Pick: Toews
Troy's take: “I just think that Jonathan, as a leader, was the glue all season long. He held things together when there was some inconsistency. His leadership at such a young age is just tremendous; when the team needed someone to step up during their eight-game win streak late in the year, he was the inspirational leader and the captain of the team. That makes him the MVP overall.”

John's take: "This is really tough because, to me, Crawford was a big reason why the Blackhawks went as far as they did this year. But Crawford didn't play the entire year and Toews did. After something of a slow start, Toews got stronger with every game, led the team in scoring to no one's surprise, and his leadership was unquestioned, especially in the playoffs. I believe Toews put himself among the top 10 players in the National Hockey League this season. He's the complete package."

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