|Matthew Wedman - Shoot the Breeze Photography|
It seemed only fitting that the biggest trade the team pulled off this season had that individual taking away the most significant hardware.
Despite a small sample size, Matthew Wedman made a huge impact when the 20 year-old picked up two awards for essentially four months (35 games) of service. Acquired in early December from the Seattle Thunderbirds for a 1st round draft pick in 2023, a second round selection in 2022 and a 5th rounder in 2020, the former 40 goal man was named the MVP. Wedman, a 7th round pick of the Philadelphia Flyers this past June, was worth his weight in gold. The plan, initially, was for him to play in the middle and flourish with winger Nolan Foote. The two played essentially two games together. Two! But that didn't stop the pride of Edmonton from taking home the most prestigious award while being named the top defensive forward with a +5 rating. Wedman not only played against the other teams top unit, he was also burdened with putting up points, but the big burly forward delivered in spades. With 17 goals and 36 points, Wedman really took off on January 24th, oddly enough against his old team, the Seattle Thunderbirds. From that point until the end of the season, the 6'3, 209 pound powerhouse scored 13 goals in 16 games. As the games became harder. As the weight became heavier, Wedman showed signs of domination. Don't be fooled, he has little flash and dash in his game, but like a bull in a china shop, anywhere four feet from the net and in, you were in 'Wedman's World'.
Kaedan Korczak picked up the Top Defenceman award for a second consecutive season. The 19 year-old set career highs in goals, assists and points. Outside of Wedman, no Rockets player shot the puck more than Korczak, who was chosen in the second round of last summer's NHL draft by the Vegas Golden Knights. Korczak had to play without Lassi Thomson. It forced him to elevate his offensive game, shutdown the top forwards from the opposition, and with the loss of 19 year-old Sean Comrie to a shoulder injury, log a ton of ice time. I'd argue no player on the Rockets roster chewed up more minutes than Korczak, who could have pouted when he was not named to the leadership group at any point in the season. The pride of Yorkton just put his head down and played hard. His best body of work, in my opinion, was during the Eastern Division road trip prior to Christmas where he was routinely one of the best players on the ice.
Pavel Novak was named the Rookie of the Year and Top Scorer. I had no idea that the 17 year-old would make as smooth a transition to the North American game as he did. My expectations were low when I first saw him play. Many from overseas, in year one, typically fail. Novak was the exception to the rule. The defining moment that the Rockets had a special player on their hands came when he scored three times in a game against Prince George on November 1st. A gifted player in a small package, Novak's longest goal scoring drought of the season was just six games. In the end the 5'10, 170 pound 'lean machine' found the back of the net 25 times. Making the adjustment to a new city, in a new country and to a smaller ice surface where body contact is at a heightened level would paralyze many. Novak becoming the first European born player to lead the team in scoring since Vaclav Varada did it way back in 1994-95 with the Tacoma Rockets.
Devin Steffer was named the Sportsmanlike Player of the Year.
Michael Farren was the Humanitarian Player of the Year.
Elias CarMichael was the Most Improved Player.
Conner McDonald was the Plus/Minus winner.
Jake Poole picked up the Scholastic Player of the Year.