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Grant cleans up at Heat 2015-16 season awards

by Torie Peterson / Calgary Flames

Derek Grant cleaned up at the Stockton Heat's inaugural team awards, claiming three of the honours given out during Saturday's home finale.

The 25-year-old was named the Heat's Most Valuable Player, Offensive Player Of The Year, and this season's Fan Favourite.

Grant dressed for 36 games with the Heat, scoring a career-high 27 goals and 45 points in that span. He averaged 1.25 points-per-game in his first season with the organization to lead all Heat skaters.

He was summoned by the Flames on two separate occasions and ended up playing 15 games with Calgary. During his cups of coffee in the NHL, he picked up one assist, put 22 shots on net and won 55 percent of the 111 face-offs he took.

Grant's splendid season came in spite of a nasty injury in February that could have sidelined him for the remainder of the 2015-16 campaign.

He was hit in the face with a puck during practice and sustained a fractured jaw from the mishap. The original diagnosis was that surgery would be required, his jaw would need to be wired shut and his recovery time was estimated at three months.

A second look brought better news.

The break wasn't directly affecting his bite so surgery was quashed. It took him approximately six weeks to get back into games and earn his second call-up with the Flames.

"I think my year went pretty good," he said during his post-season interview in Calgary. "Obviously it was an unfortunate time to get injured but I was able to get back and playing again. I was excited to get playing again this year and finish up here."

The centreman signed a one-year, two-way deal with the Flames last July and is slated to enter free agency this summer. After enjoying the best year of his career within the Calgary organization, he's hoping he can remain in the fold in the future.

"There's obviously some discussions that we're going to have to have," Grant said. "Obviously I enjoy it here. We have a great group of guys and a great organization. It's something that we're going to talk about going forward and hopefully we can find a contract that suits both of us.

"My goal is to play in the NHL. If that's here, and they want me here, that's something that I would love."

The Heat's Unsung Hero Award went to alternate captain Turner Elson. The gritty forward, who now has three pro seasons under his belt, scored 14 goals and tied his career-high in points with 30 through 63 games.

Elson earned his first NHL call-up in early April, making his debut in the Flames' final game of the 2015-16 season and ended up notching his final NHL point, an assist, in the process.

"It was an amazing moment," he told afterwards. "I've dreamed of getting a point in the NHL as well as playing here so it's win-win for me.

"The pace was fast. I thought I [did what I had to do] -- had to get bodies, got a lot of hits out there. I got hit the very shift, which was a big one, and that got me into the game ... I thought I did well for my first game."

Brett Kulak was tabbed as Stockton's Defensive Player Of The Year. He played 59 games with the Heat this year, scoring three goals and 17 points.

The 22-year-old started the season with the Flames, making the opening night roster out of training camp, before being assigned to Stockton in late October. In total, Kulak played eight games in Flames silks in 2015-16.

Defenceman Oliver Kylington is the Heat's Rookie Of The Year. The 18-year-old was the youngest skater to dress for a full season in the AHL, suiting up for 47 games with the Heat in his first season in North America.

Kylington, drafted in the second round of the 2015 NHL Draft, ended up with five goals and 12 points in his rookie season. He also earned his first NHL call-up, playing in the Flames season finale on Apr. 9.

"I’ve been doing a lot of hard work in the gym, trying to build some muscle and get stronger and bigger and faster. My season’s been good, I think," he said.

"The first half has been pretty good. After Christmas I think I’ve been playing a better game on the defensive part. I think it’s been a pretty good year. I’m pretty proud of that."

Bryce Van Brabant was honoured as the Heat's Community Service Award winner. He was also named Stockton's IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year nominee for his constant work within the community.

The forward attended all but one event the team participated in this year and was consistently the first player to sign up for community appearances.

In his second professional season, Van Brabant scored seven goals and 16 points in 62 games.

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