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Posted at 03:43 PM ET, 05/12/2011

Capitals season awards 2011

Has the sting of last week’s second round exit from the playoffs started to wear off yet? Not for me. Because I’m not ready to let go of this season quite yet, I figured today I’d hand out a few awards. Doing this gave me a better sense of the depth of talent on this year’s Caps roster. Sure, I started to get a little liberal with these, but we’re all winners, right? Feel free to hand out additional awards in the comments.

Most Valuable Player: Alex Ovechkin

Are you surprised? Frankly, you probably should be. If you’re a scorer by trade and you wrap up the season with 32, you’re hardly clinching the MVP spot. Still, recent interviews have started to shine a little light on the breadth of Ovechkin’s involvement with this organization. If GM George McPhee is dependent on Ovechkin for insights into the team dynamic, then he’s more of a captain than I gave him credit for. Runners up: Michal Neuvirth, John Carlson

Rookie of the Year: John Carlson

Carlson’s success this season speaks for itself. He led all rookies in average time on ice, finishing a +21 with 37 points, a fair number of those points in clutch situations, which appears to be Carlson’s signature. Runners up: Marcus Johansson, Neuvirth

Veteran of the Year: Mike Knuble

I know it seems like a silly award, but for a team that’s needed veteran leadership, it’s important. Knuble brings a stabilizing influence both on and off the ice and sets a positive example through hard work. Runners up: Jason Arnott, Jason Chimera

Hard Hat Award: Jason Chimera

Just as the Caps give the hard hat to the player who works the hardest over the course of the game, I’m handing it to the player who skated so hard for every single puck that he developed a signature move where he dumps the puck only to win the race to it himself. Chimera shone in the playoffs, but he was there all season. Runners up: Knuble, Brooks Laich.

Fan Favorite: Brooks Laich

It looks like the famous tire change was just the beginning. From the number of Laich shirts you see, you’d think he was the star of the team. He’s a good guy who mows his own lawn, gives back to the community, and works hard on and off the ice to be a strong member of this team. Runners up: Matt Bradley, Ovechkin

Most Improved: John Erskine

John Erskine used to put a bad taste in my mouth. Almost as much so as Milan Jurcina. But he worked hard this year, carving out his portion of the enforcer role while holding his own on the blue line. He also built up quite a fan following and destroyed all his Movember competition. Runners up: Boyd Gordon, Karl Alzner

Rising Star Award: Marcus Johansson

Every time he does something great (and it happens at least once a game now), I get that “Wow, what is this kid going to cost us” feeling. He’s pure gold, and he’ll be worth just as much. Runners up: Neuvirth, Braden Holtby

Most Quotable: Matt Bradley

Bradley is hilarious. He can deadpan anything. If you don’t believe me, check out this video, where he talks about his pimped out ride, a 1997 Saturn SL1. Runners up: Bruce Boudreau, Laich

Most Valuable Trade Acquisition: Jason Arnott

On the whole, it was a good year for trade acquisitions. But only one came in with a commanding presence, a fresh perspective, and a fierce determination to make the most of his role as a playoff rental. He also worked to befriend Alex Semin, a move that reads to me as both admirable and extremely shrewd. Runner up: Dennis Wideman

By Nicole Weissman  |  03:43 PM ET, 05/12/2011

Tags:  Capitals, Nicole Weissman

 
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