A table. It’s round. And we virtually gathered at it to discuss our picks for the season awards.
For me, it’s a push between Kennedy Marchment and Mikyla Grant-Mentis.
Marchment took over a lot of games and helped the Whale finish as the 2021-22 PHF regular season champions. Grant-Mentis took over plenty of games herself and, at times, was all but unstoppable even though everyone was working on ways to shut her down. If I have to go with one, I’ll go with the player who helped change the potential of her team more. That’s Marchment.
I could flip a coin to pick either Kennedy Marchment or Mikyla Grant-Mentis for this award. That being said, Marchment is an addition that put her team over the top - in my mind - whereas Grant-Mentis was the reigning MVP and her team was just as good as last season. I don't know if that makes sense, but it did in my head. My top-3: Marchment, Grant-Mentis, Amanda Leveille.
MVP awards are weird, can I say that? It’s hard to figure out what exactly makes a player “valuable,” to their team. How do we vote on these? Do we just pick the best player in the league? Does being the best player make someone the most valuable player? Am I overthinking this?
I’m going to go with Mikyla Grant-Mentis for this one, she’s inarguably one of the best players in the world right now, but beyond that, her ability to shift the momentum of a game is unmatched. When Grant-Mentis is having a good game, the Toronto Six are having a good game, which to me is the most valuable.
I’m going to go out on a limb and pick Amanda Leveille for this award. Why? I’m a contrarian.
In all seriousness, though, the MVP award to me is for the player who has the most impact on their team and on a game. In many ways, Mikyla Grant-Mentis can be that player for the Six, and Kennedy Marchment that player for the Whale; however, they’ve proven themselves capable of scoring and winning without those players’ impact. For the Whitecaps, having Leveille in net has been the difference maker for so long; her calm demeanor and capacity to withstand the workload she’s had for years at this point has set the tone for her team and kept them in some games they might have lost handily otherwise. As it stands now, we see where the Whitecaps are at without their veteran netminder, and how precarious their situation can be heading into the playoffs if she’s not healthy. That is the kind of value I’m talking about — without this player, where is her team? Which is why I think she deserves the nod.
Oh, boy. What a race. I think Holly makes a really great point about the definition of “valuable,” so I’m not entirely sure whether this award goes to the player whose performances are most critical to their respective teams’ success, or if it simply goes to the best all-around player. In the case of the former, I would agree with Angelica — Amanda Leveille is the player who the Whitecaps rely on to bail them out in tough games. Without Leveille, Minnesota a different team.
That being said, if we’re going by the latter definition, my vote is, again, split: Mikyla Grant-Mentis and Kennedy Marchment are both two incredibly talented and skilled players who contribute to their team and are at the tippy-top of the scoring race in the PHF. It’s hard to say which of these two deserves the award more, especially given how close they are in points.
While we’re throwing out outside considerations, Elaine Chuli is deserving of a third-place vote for MVP given her video game numbers (which I’ll leave for the goaltender discussion later). But otherwise, it’s Marchment. Part of that comes with helping to orchestrate the transformation of the Whale franchise from their bounce-back transition year last season to a campaign of offensive dominance, but the consistency stands out above all else.
Marchment has points in 18 of 20 games played, with one of those pointless games being her very first pro contest. She’s racked up 10 multi-point games. Mikyla Grant-Mentis, while also a game-breaker, had points in “only” 13 of 19 games played with 10 multi-point games. MGM was great, but Marchment was stat-sheet automatic, and that counts for something.
Newcomer of the Year
Kennedy Marchment has my vote for Newcomer of the Year. She’s right on Mikyla Grant-Mentis’ heels in nearly every offensive category, including points (28 to Grant-Mentis’ 29, good for second in the PHF), goals (12 to Allie Thunstrom’s 18, also good for second in the league and tied with Grant-Mentis), and game-winning goals (4 to Grant-Mentis’ 5, also good for second in the PHF). Even if you’re not comparing her to last year’s MVP, Marchment is the type of player you build a franchise around, and she’s proven her mettle as a newcomer in this league. In my opinion, she should also be in the conversation for MVP...but that’s a debate for another time.
I’m with Anne here. It’s Kennedy Marchment by a mile. She took the Whale and the entire PHF by storm in her first year playing pro in North America after being a dominant player in the SDHL. Watching Marchment play is a joy. She’s a true offensive engine — a skilled puck-carrier who is unselfish but still knows when to pull the trigger herself. Marchment helped transform the Whale this season. She was the missing offensive superstar the franchise needed.
For what it’s worth, I think the best “true” rookie this season may have been Taylor Girard of the Whale. She was undeniably special for Connecticut playing almost all of the season with Marchment on that top line.
I’ll be different I guess. I’m picking Taylor Girard for this because it feels weird to give a player with pro experience an award for being new in a certain league. I think from the time Girard was drafted first overall - when Connecticut traded up to nab her - to the end of the season she met, and exceeded expectations. She set the bar pretty high for whoever gets selected first overall this off-season, and the next, and the next. Top-5 in goals, assists, points as a pro - one year removed from college.
Kennedy Marchment deserves this hands down. I agree with Dan that Girard has done a lot to deserve the nod and I get what he means by Marchment’s pro experience in the SDHL making it kind of an unfair fight. However, it’s all about what she’s done in her first year here in the PHF for me — and while we’re being nitpicky, MGM received this award last season despite playing two games for Buffalo prior to her absolute dominance in Lake Placid, just saying. (No, it’s not exactly the same, but leave me be. She still deserved it without question.) Being able to come in and take over the franchise scoring title in a single season is no easy feat, and I think Marchment is the clear winner here when I look at all the options.
Marchment. If Michela Cava had stuck around for the entire season, I think she would have been her stiffest competition for the award. She exploded out of the gate and slowly faded before jumping ship to the KRS Vanke Rays. If she sticks around for a whole season, does she find a groove and rise in the points standings? Who knows. In Cava’s absence, it’s Marchment by a mile.
Goaltender of the Year
This is a tough one. For most, it’s a two-horse race between Elaine Chuli and Katie Burt. But I firmly believe that Amanda Leveille needs to be in this conversation. All three deserve recognition for their play this year but, at the end of the day, we can only have one.
So, here’s the thing. I am a big advocate of not letting a goalie’s record or GAA influence us too heavily — those are more team stats than goalie stats. With that said, it’s hard to ignore Chuli’s 16-1-0 record. It’s also hard to ignore that Katie Burt finished the year with a .958 Sv% (the best we’ve ever seen in full PHF season) but played nearly 300 fewer minutes than Chuli. Leveille may have been the best of the bunch before an injury shut her down for the season.
With all of that said, I’m going with Chuli because she was a workhorse starter who had some outstanding numbers. I also think Burt had a better defense playing in front of her but didn’t get nearly as much support from her team’s offense as Chuli did. It’s a tough call, but I have to go with Chuli.
Elaine Chuli hands down deserves Goaltender of the Year for her absolutely outstanding — and outstandingly consistent — season in Toronto. While league statistics might suggest a second-place finish behind Katie Burt, I think Chuli’s resilience and steadiness between the pipes earn her this award fair and square. Between her 15 wins (1st in the league by a considerable margin), her sub-2.00 GAA (second) and her .944 SV% (also second), I think she is, without a doubt, one of the league’s strongest all-around goaltenders.
This is Chuli all day. Katie Burt and Leveille had great seasons as well, but when you win every game you play, except the last one, it’s a no-brainer for me. It wasn't just the wins though, it was not allowing more than three goals in a game all season until the final weekend. It was backstopping her team to an eight-game win streak, and the team going winless when she wasn’t in goal.
Elaine Chuli, without question. Yes, you can say the team in front of her helped her much the same way the Pride goalies have been helped in seasons past; however, for me it’s apples and oranges. Chuli has come up big when needed and been nearly unbeatable for the Six, and it’s clear that she IS the moment for Toronto. If they go all the way this season, she’ll have had a lot to do with that. Moreover, her consistency is enviable — nothing shakes her.
Chuuuuuuuuuuuuu. When Lovisa Selander won Goaltender of the Year in 2020, she did it by winning a record-setting 17 games with .941 save percentage and 1.71 goals-against average. Chuli’s numbers are right in that same ballpark with only Katie Burt (who had five fewer decisions) keeping her any company. The award is hers.
Defender of the Year
I think this is low-key the hardest award to pick a winner for this year. There are a lot of defenders who have played at a level where they deserve the nod this year, including Taylor Woods, Kristen Barbara, Dominique Kremer, Allie Munroe, and Amanda Boulier. I also really wish we had better public data so we could rely on more than the eye test to single out players who are so brilliant in their own end like Tori Howran. Sadly, we don’t. I hope that changes in the immediate future.
This may be a controversial pick to some, but I am giving the nod to Barbara. She did it all for the Riveters this season. I’m not sure there was another defender in the league who had as much pressure on them to rise to the occasion as Barbara and she absolutely delivered.
I agree this was the toughest award to select a winner. I could easily vote Dominique Kremer and Allie Munroe as co-winners, but I’m going to give Munroe the slight edge here. Her addition to the Whale blueline has allowed everyone to slot in perfectly and have a role. And she’s shown a penchant for knowing when to jump into a play at the offensive end - usually resulting in a high-quality chance or goal. The four-assist game to clinch first place in the season finale put it over the top for me.
I’ll be the homer here and go with Dominique Kremer. She’s been one of the strongest on both sides of the puck for Buffalo alongside Emilie Harley, and her puckmoving skills, willingness to drive the play, and ability to come up clutch have pushed her to elite status in my eyes — especially when fellow defender Marie-Jo Pelletier has had a quieter year than usual. For me, being able to take the reins and produce while her back’s against the wall has been really awesome to see. Special mention to Harley, though, because I think Mike made a great point — she doesn’t show up super often on the scoresheet, but just in the final weekend of regular-season play alone, her responsibility in her own end and her stellar skating and playmaking skills, along with her excellent stick work and positioning, have made her and Kremer’s pairing one of the only ones to stick for the Beauts throughout the season. Seriously, just watch her coast-to-coast play on the OT winner against Boston last Saturday and you’ll see what I mean.
The skill and talent of defenders is hard to quantify, especially in a league like the PHF where maintaining and reporting accurate and in-depth statistics aren’t really a huge focus of the league brass. That being said, I’m going to agree with my colleagues and select Allie Munroe as the winner of the 2022 PHF Defender of the Year award, simply because of how complete her game is. She can really do it all: play defense and generate some offense to provide that extra kick that the Whale sometimes need.
It’s not a perfect metric, but I do like examining the giveaway-vs-takeaway metric that the PHF tracks. A good defender should be able to neutralize oncoming threats and transition up ice quickly. That doesn’t always translate on the statsheet, but it shows active stick-work, good positioning and fleet feet. When it comes to the giveaway-takeaway differential, the leaders among defenders are Kaleigh Fratkin and Allie Munroe (+13). Kristen Barbara has 19 giveaways to five takeaways, while Woods has 16 giveaways to 13 takeaways. Again, it’s far from a perfect metric because it lacks situational context and leaves a lot to the scorer’s judgement, but it’s a good jumping-off point.
So to me, Munroe being a leader in the takeaway category, blocking 13 shots, ranking as a +15 in plus-minus (tied for best among defenders with Taylor Turnquist) and contributing 13 points in 18 games gives her all the street cred she needs for Defender of the Year.