Awarded to the league's most overrated player
And the all-goalie nominees are (perhaps they should get their own category?):
The guy performed admirably in the playoffs, filling in for injured Brian Boucher. The Habs could have done well to realize the guy was not all that good, but Montreal has a history of making reasonable Flyers goalies look like the second coming of Bernie Parent. It was the Blackhawks who exposed his weaknesses, helping him to a 3.96 goals against average and a save percentage of 0.87 in the finals.
True to form, the Flyers (always on the lookout for their next mediocre goalie) awarded Leighton a two-year contract worth 3.1 million dollars.
Vezina trophy winner last year, backup with a losing record this year. Granted, Tukka Rask only played a couple more regular season games than Thomas this year, but his record was exceedingly better. Also, Thomas did not play a single playoff game this year. Last April, the Bruins locked up the soon-to-be Vezina winner with a four-year contract extension worth 20 million dollars. Thomas could almost qualify as one of the most overpaid players in the league, but he certainly makes the cut as one of the most overrated.
I know at least one reader who will not like this nomination one little bit. But Price simply hasn't earned the title of Franchise Savior that has been (unfairly) forced upon him. And all signs from management point to a mysterious case of the tail wagging the dog. Bob Gainey brought Price straight into NHL action in 2007, after seeing him jump in and dominate the AHL's Calder Cup playoffs. That first season was a decent one, where Price had a 2.56 GAA and .920 save percentage. The real shock came when Gainey traded Cristobal Huet (another overrated goalie), asking the rookie Price to take Montreal all the way through the playoffs just as Ken Dryden and Patrick Roy had done. Time passed, and Price found himself struggling under the weight of the media's and management's expectations, platooning with Jaroslav Halak.
We all know the rest: Halak was largely to thank for Montreal's upsets of President's trophy winner Washington and defending Cup champs Pittsburgh. The Habs promptly traded Halak.
There's more to be said though: Price has shown flashes of brilliance, most notably in the Centennial game where he was fierce and fiery, refusing to allow defeat that night. The deal for Halak makes some weird amount of sense, as a young goalie needs a chance to prove himself without constantly looking over his shoulder. Most perplexing is that the Canadiens seem to become a different team in front of Carey Price. They skate poorly, they don't back-check, they can't pass...basically the team falls apart each and every time Carey Price is in the net. Who knows what causes this, but it has to stop; Montreal now has no one left to fall back upon should Price fail.
Time will tell. The always fickle media have curbed their expectations, but Habs management is shooting the moon with Carey Price. For the moment, it seems like a huge gamble.
HM: Roberto Luongo, Wade Redden, Mike Komisarek