Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The PIPE-ies: Top Defenceman

After a week of collecting nominations from our audience and media colleagues, last night on TPS we made it official. The nominees in all 10 categories were announced and now the voting for the winners can begin.

After the jump, the names of the nominees in the category of Top Defenceman for 2013-14 and why they made the list of finalists. 

In alphabetical order, the five candidates vying for your consideration as the best blueliner of the 2013-14 season are...

T.J. Brennan (Toronto Marlies)

Photo: Toronto Star
If you value offence from the back end then it's hard not to be excited by what Brennan accomplished this past year in the American Hockey League. His 72 points in 76 was not just best among league defencemen but also tied him for third overall in the entire AHL. Brennan was an obvious addition to the AHL All-Star team that played a pair of games against Farjestad from Sweden. The former 2nd round pick of the Buffalo Sabres will look to crack the NHL roster of the New York Islanders this fall. 

Guillaume Gelinas (Val d'Or Foreurs)

Photo: Aaron Bell
Brennan's AHL point totals were fantastic but pale in comparison to what the top CHL defensive scorer racked up this year. 5'9 Gelinas was an offensive dynamo for the Foreurs and led the Canadian Hockey League with a ridiculous 92 points in 67 regular season games. He added another 34 points during the QMJHL playoffs as Val d'Or advanced to the Memorial Cup as league champs. His injury early in the tournament was an obvious blow to the team that relied heavily on his ability to generate offence from the blueline. 

Shayne Gostisbehere (Union College Dutchmen)

Photo: Yong Kim
Gostisbehere's statistical numbers won't amaze anyone even though 34 points in 42 NCAA games is pretty darn good. However, the Philadelphia Flyers prospect makes the ballot based on his all around game which earned him several accolades this year. One notable line came from Seth Appert, head coach at RPI who said "Shayne Gostisbehere is the best player in the country... We've played [Boston College forward] Johnny Gaudreau. It's no slight to him. Johnny Gaudreau is a heck of a hockey player, but Gostisbehere is the best player we've seen." It's lofty praise like that combined with an amazing performance at the Frozen Four that makes the Dutchmen D-man very deserving of the nomination. 

Brandon Montour (Waterloo Blackhawks)

Photo: Amber Schmidt
The Anaheim Ducks selected Montour in the 2nd round of the 2014 NHL Draft which should tell you how young the prospect is compared to the others in this category. It was Montour's first season in the USHL and the Canadian certainly made the most of it. His 62 points in 60 regular season games set the bar but his 16 in 12 playoff games budged it even higher. So high in fact that the blueliner was named the USHL's Player of the Year - a remarkable accomplishment considering Montour is just the third defenceman to every win the award. Montour joins the Minutemen of Umass this coming year.

Jacob Trouba (Winnipeg Jets) 

Photo: Terrence Lee
There are plenty or reasons to like Jacob Trouba and the rookie season he had with the Jets last year. Despite missing 17 games with a neck injury, the Michigan product was 3rd in D-man scoring with 29 points. Even more impressive is that he managed to hold a +4 rating playing big minutes on a non-playoff team. How many minutes? How about 22:26 a night, the most of any other rookie in the NHL last year, almost a full minute more than the next busiest freshman. Not only did he shine at the NHL level but he suited up for the United States at the World Championship and contributed 3 points in 4 games.  

We are collecting votes for the next week until Tuesday August 19th when we announce the winners of the 2014 PIPE-ies. If you want to cast your vote, let us hear it. Tweet us at @TPS_Guy and @DuckMillard and include the hashtag #TPSAwards in your vote.   

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