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The Official Site of the Nashville Predators Midseason Awards

by Jay Levin / Nashville Predators
With the Predators at the All-Star Break, makes its selections for the team's top players from the first half of the season.

Team MVP – Shea Weber
It’s hard to argue against a guy who is being considered for the Norris Trophy as the league’s top defenseman. Weber, the Preds representative at the 2009 All-Star Game, is second on the team in points (32) to J.P. Dumont and second in goals (14) to Jason Arnott, while leading the team in plus/minus rating (+6), game-winning goals (3), and shots (140).
Runner-Up: Pekka Rinne (10-7-0, 2.33 GAA, .916 SV%, 4 shutouts; selected for the YoungStars Game. After a slow start to the season, Rinne's been very good over the past month and a half limiting opponents to two goals or fewer in nine of his 12 starts since the beginning of December.)

Surprise Player – Joel Ward
At the start of training camp Joel Ward was ticketed for a depth role in Milwaukee. He has yet to step foot in Milwaukee after a good camp, followed by a strong exhibition season earned Ward a spot on the Opening Night roster. He’s proven to be a reliable role player for the Preds and one of the team’s top PK forwards. Plus he’s chipped in five goals and 13 points – impressive for a guy who has topped 25 points just once in three seasons at the AHL level.
Runner-Up: Steve Sullivan (just the fact that he’s back on the ice playing draws strong consideration – and he’s been effective in his first games back making the comeback more than just a sentimental ceremony – but he hasn’t played enough games to earn full recognition)

Unsung Player – Kevin Klein
Long considered one of the elite prospects in the Preds system, Klein appears to have turned the corner during the first half of the season. He’s been in the lineup for 20 of the past 21 games and seems to be picking up confidence – and the trust of the Preds coaching staff. Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, and Dan Hamhuis grab the headlines among the defensive corps – with Jonathon Blum, Cody Franson, Roman Josi, and Alexander Sulzer drawing adulation among the prospects – which tends to make Klein the “forgotten prospect.” But he just turned 24 this December and would appear to be in good position to earn a regular spot in the lineup during the back half of the season.
Runner-Up: Ryan Suter (It’s hard to label a leading player as unsung, but with all of the attention Shea Weber has garnered – and deservingly so – Suter has flown under the radar. His 24 points are tied for 24th among league defensemen and are just seven shy of his career-best set last season)

Top Prospect at the pro level – Alexander Sulzer
It’s a tough call; the Milwaukee Admirals are playing good hockey and several of the Preds prospects are at the heart of that success, but Sulzer has established himself as one of the top d-men at the AHL level. His early season play earned a new contract, a two-year deal with a guaranteed one-way contract starting next season. Translation: the Preds expect him to be an NHL mainstay next year.
Runner-Up: Mike Santorelli (Ryan Jones and Patric Hornqvist spent as much time with the NHL squad as the AHL team, so not sure how fair it would be to include them in this category. Regardless, in just his second pro season Santorelli has developed into an AHL All-Star in Milwaukee and showed signs of more to come during his couple game stint in the NHL. He’s a creative offensive player and has started to develop some chemistry with Jones – both during Preds training camp as well as with Milwaukee – as well as showing an increasing ability to handle the defensive responsibilities needed to be a pro player.)

Top Prospect at the amateur level – Jonathon Blum
Blum continues to round out his game. Always considered one of the more gifted offensive defensemen in his age class, Blum has taken great strides in his defensive play. Adding close to 30 pounds to his once undersized frame has greatly improved his ability to battle with bigger forwards, while not having any adverse effects on his mobility.
Runner-Up: Colin Wilson (the team’s top pick in this past summer’s draft, Wilson has done everything expected of him, including a very strong showing at the World Junior Championships where he was selected by Team USA’s coaching staff as one of the team’s three best players of the tournament.)

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