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Preds 09-10 Season Mid Year Awards

by Staff Writer / Nashville Predators asked the Preds broadcasters for their takes on the best Preds players during the first half of the 2009-10 season. Check below for their views and then click here to share your picks.

Tom Callahan
Radio Play-by-Play Announcer
Terry Crisp
Color Analyst
Pete Weber
Play-by-Play Announcer
Jay Levin
Team First Half MVP Patric Hornqvist - My MVP for the first half is going to be Patric Hornqvist. I go with Patric because I don’t think a lot of other people would pick him. Here is a guy, who coming into camp, by his own admission, said that his last year was disappointing on a lot of levels. I think that he exemplifies the work ethic that this Predators team has thrived upon for a long time. Pekka Rinne - I’ve got to go with Pekka Rinne. He is the man, to me, that has carried the bulk of the load. Patric Hornqvist Barry Trotz – It’s been such a team effort through the first 41 games, you can probably make a legitimate case for five, six, seven different players, but to me the job Coach Trotz and his staff have done has been the most impressive part of the first half. They never panicked when things started slow and have seemingly made all the right moves in the first half, moving guys up and down from Milwaukee, re-juggling lines due to injuries or slumps or roster changes, sliding around defensive pairings, keeping both goaltenders involved.
Best Forward in First Half Martin Erat - If we’re talking purely on offensive play – I would say Martin Erat. If we’re talking about overall play, I would say Marcel Goc. I pick Erat because he’s come out and is finally having the year that everybody has been waiting. Hopefully, he can keep doing that. When I think of Marcel Goc – I think of his two-way play and his value in the faceoff circle. One of the other things is that – it always seems when you put him on a line; that line seems to work harder, gets better and they seem to be more active. So that might a tie between the two of them for me. Patric Hornqvist - That is a tough one – we’ve had a few good ones so far. I’m going to take Patric Hornqvist. Patric Hornqvist David Legwand - I could just as easily make a case for a half dozen forwards, but to me Legwand has been the most important to the Preds. He played in all 41 games and averaged 19:30 of ice time (an average 35 seconds more per game than any other forward). And he did it matched up against the top offensive threat for every opponent – and was one of the team’s top PK forwards in the first half. He pretty much did it all for the Preds – third in points, second in game-winning goals, second among forward in blocked shots. It’s no coincidence, as Legwand went, so went the Preds in the first half – the team went 21-6-2 when he skated 19:00-or-more. Despite all the numbers, stats only scratch the surface of how important he’s been to the Preds this season.
Best Defensive Player in First Half Ryan Suter - I’m going to go with Ryan Suter. He’s just been so solid in his own end. Everybody gets beat occasionally but he just always seems to be on top of things. For the number of minutes he’s seeing – to play as well as he does consistently. He does a very good job of staying back when Shea (Weber) jumps up into the rush. You want to talk about a guy who flies under the radar – even though he’s on Team USA – I still think there are a lot of people who don’t understand how well he plays and what he does. He is a solid guy and when he’s out on the ice you never worry about your own end. Jerred Smithson Francis Bouillon Ryan Suter - No knock on the other candidates but this was probably the easiest of the five questions to answer. With Weber (Canadian Olympian) and Pekka Rinne (15-7-2 record) in the mix, that’s more praise for standard Suter has set in the first half than an indictment on any one else’s performance. Suter isn’t flashy and doesn’t produce highlight reel plays, but he’s been a consistently good defenseman for the Preds all season long. He logs the most ice time – a full minute more than anyone else on the team – and plays in all situations: up a goal trying to hold on late, down a goal trying to come back late, on the power-play, on the penalty kill. The stats are there, but the positioning and general defensive zone play have been better than the stats are able to show.
Best Newcomer Francis Bouillon - For me, it’s between Marcel Goc and Francis Bouillon. I think of them were absolute steals by David Poile. Bouillon has stepped up into roles he’s never had to play before but now he’s a little older and a little smarter. Everything I said about Goc earlier – his two-way play and the face off circle. He is a guy that makes you miss some of the players that have left the Predators – like the Bonks and Fiddlers – a little less. Francis Bouillon - I vote Francis Bouillon but I like Marcel Goc as well. Marcel Goc Marcel Goc - Goc has already tied his career-best with eight goals. He’s been good defensively and solid in the faceoff circle. His speed has helped to open up the ice for his linemates. And his versatility has allowed the coaches to use him with a number of different line combinations.
Breakout Player in the Second Half Steve Sullivan or Joel Ward - That’s tough. I’m thinking two-way play on this one. Maybe Steve Sullivan –  I think he knows he can be better and he will be. My other guy is Joel Ward. He has started to show up in recent games. In the win over Columbus he was smart, he played heads up and he played aggressive. When Joel was successful last year that is exactly how he was playing. I think if he starts doing that on a game to game basis – he’ll be a guy that jumps back onto the radar much like he did last season. Ryan Suter - I’m thinking that Ryan Suter is going to have a good second half. He hasn’t had a bad first half either. Marcel Goc or Patric Hornqvist Cody Franson. Franson’s development is reminiscent of Kevin Klein’s development. Last year Klein grabbed hold of a regular roster spot during the first half and really flourished during the second half. Franson is starting to look more comfortable with the puck on his stick and starting to look a little more sure of his defensive zone reads. And after opening the season in Milwaukee, he still posted 11 points with a team-best +9 plus/minus rating for the Preds during the first half of the ’09-10 season. Nick Spaling and Ryan Jones would be good options, too, but once Erat, Smithson, and Tootoo return, one – if not both – of those guys are AHL re-assignment candidates.

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