Obviously that would be "roughly a third of the way in" because the Flyguys have played 34 of their 82 games, but the Christmas break seems like the logical first time to stop and check in on the end-of-season team awards that they give out. We'll probably check in again at the All-Star break and then they do the actual awards at the end of the season.
Barry Ashbee Trophy - Outstanding Defenseman
Obviously, the ballot at the end of the season is likely to depend A LOT on the decisions that get made in the next six days. You can make the case, currently, for Michael Del Zotto or Shayne Gostisbehere. Mark Streit is also likely going to throw his name in the ring when he returns from his penis enlargement surgery.
Del Zotto is the most deserving through the first third of the season. He's been the leader in ice time and has been asked to take on a MUCH different role than he probably expected when he signed here. He's the team's number one defenseman, and I think it's safe to say he's far surpassed everyone's expectations of him.
Gostisbehere is a fan favorite and he's incredible to watch and he breathed life into a dead team and yadda yadda yadda.. this is Del Zotto's award this year and they're going to have to pry it from his cold dead hands if they want to take it away from him.
Pelle Lindbergh Memorial Trophy - Most Improved Player
Del Zotto is also probably the frontrunner for the Lindbergh, but in the interest of diversity let's look at a couple of options. Sean Couturier has established himself as the second line center, but we always kind of knew that's where he was going to end up. Brayden Schenn seems to have solidified himself as a top-six winger, which is a big step forward from him. Gostisbehere, of course, is going to get mentioned.
I think we're going to really have to wait and see what happens at the end of the season, but my picks to keep an eye on would be Del Zotto, Schenn, and Scott Laughton. I think Laughts needs to get put on a line with Matt Read and Sam Gagner to really get some offensive chemistry flowing, and I hope it's only a matter of time until we see that small, speedy trio.
Gene Hart Memorial Award - Most Heart
There are quite a few Heart guys on this Flyers team, as there are every year. Wayne Simmonds probably exemplifies it the most, but there are like ten guys on this team that qualify as Heart guys. Simmer, Giroux, Bellemare, Vandevelde, White, Gudas, and Schultz are all rated 90 or higher in the EA Sports NHL 2016 "heart" skill category.
Ultimately, my heart (pun intended) tells me to give it to Bellemare. PEB has dealt with a lot - especially off the ice - and he's continued to anchor the quietly awesome third/fourth line. He doesn't get paid a lot, he normally gets crushed with defensive zone starts, he has to kill penalties, and he still has managed to become a fan favorite and is someone that the fan base wants to keep around for a long time.. or forever.
He's another guy that I'd like to see get some more talented linemates at even strength. If Gagner is not in the long-term plan. then throw Pebbles out with Laughton and Read to see what kind of damage they can do together.
Yanick Dupre Memorial Class Guy Award - Strong Rapport With The Media
This was kind of a weird award for me to pick, but I LOVE the relationship that Wayne Simmonds and Chris Therien have on the bench in their mid-game interviews.
Bobby Clarke Trophy - Most Valuable Player
As long as Claude Giroux wears an orange sweater with a 28 on the back and a capital C on the front, he will always be this team's most valuable player.
Golden Hockey Stick - Best Czech Player
This one isn't an official Flyers award (I can't really find who awards it, but I assume it has to be the King or Czar of the Czech Republic or whatever). But we have three Czechs on the team, and we need to award one of them with this solid gold piece of wood.
Jake Voracek, Michal Neuvirth, Radko Gudas: who you got?