It’s time for the award ceremony of the 2020-21 Devils season!
The 2020-21 New Jersey Devils season is thankfully almost over. Though we aren’t happy with the result of the season, many players and moments stood out. So to end this season on a positive note, we will be giving out some team awards for the 2020-21 season. The award categories are as followed: Best Goal, Best Save, Most Improved Player, Worst Player of the Year, and Best Player of the Year. Let’s begin with the Goal of the Year Award.
Goal of the Year Award: Yegor Sharangovich’s First NHL Goal
Yegor Sharangovich is a player that nobody expected would become amazing in his first year. However, his second game showcased why he may be a future Devils fan favorite. Against the Boston Bruins, the Devils were looking to win their first game of the 2020-21 season. With both teams tied at one, the game went to overtime. Since the Devils lost the first game in a shootout, they didn’t want to play another shootout. Thankfully, Sharangovich was able to step up in a big way to make sure that never happened.
With just under 10 seconds left in the game, Kyle Palmieri cleared the puck as both Sharangovich, and Damon Severson chased the puck. After Severson made a fantastic pass, Yegor had a breakaway and beat Jaroslav Halak to win the game and get his first NHL goal with 1.7 left to go. Even after the goal, everything was so exciting it brought grins to our faces, including Cangy’s call. Sharangovich deserves this award, but that’s not the only award he will be getting.
Save of the Year Award: Mackenzie Blackwood Robs Bruins of Tying Goal
Sharangovich’s goal wouldn’t be the only time the Devils had a crazy moment against the Bruins this year. March 28th’s game was perhaps the craziest game against the Bruins we’ve seen in a while. Even though Kyle Palmieri had the only goal of the game for the Devils, watching the rest of that game made me think the Bruins were going to tie it. In the final minute, though, it felt like that was going to be the case. After what seemed like the Bruins tied the game late, thanks to Patrice Bergeron, Lindy Ruff decided to challenge the goal. The replay showed David Krejci interfered with Mackenzie Blackwood, so the goal got called off.
Even after that, things got even crazier with just less than 10 seconds left. After the Bruins had one more rush, it seemed the puck was about to head into the net after a scramble in front. Blackwood then made a spectacular pad save, stretching out to make sure that puck did not cross the goal line. Keep in mind this all happened with just 4.4 seconds left in the game. That save cemented the win against the Bruins. If the NHL had awards for the Top 10 Saves each year, Blackwood’s save has to be a top 3. But he still gets our award here for that incredible save.
Most Improved Player Award: Miles Wood Has Perhaps His Best Season
Miles Wood‘s tenure as a Devil has not been remarkable. Wood in the past has had many issues. One big issue Wood is trying to fix over the years is skating with his speed and trying to master it with his ability to shoot. Miles Wood is a speedy player, but when Wood tries to push a lot of speed when attempting to score, it can sometimes end up with him crashing into other goalies. Wood also had an issue with taking many penalties considering he had averaged 90 penalty minutes for three straight seasons.
Fans wanted him to leave last year because of these issues. But this year, Wood changed our minds with how much he improved his play this year. Wood managed to make sure his speed was on the same level as his puck handling. Now Wood’s only two goals away from tying the most goals in his career. As for his penalty issues, he has only 24 penalty minutes this year. Even though it’s a shorter season, he’s hasn’t taken the same amount of penalties per game he made the past seasons. Even though Jack Hughes and Pavel Zacha were candidates for this award, Wood improved so much that he deserves the award.
Worst Player of the Year Award: Andreas Johnsson Becomes Barely Noticeable
When the Devils acquired Andreas Johnsson from the Toronto Maple Leafs last year, we thought it was a good idea at first. While Johnsson isn’t necessarily a great scorer, he still could’ve been a player who could become a decent piece to our offense. However, this season wasn’t certainly the case, as this year was perhaps the worst in his career. Johnsson barely provides any offense for the team. Johnsson only scored four goals and six assists for only 10 points. Even his skating has many problems, like how he doesn’t even try to fight for possessions against other opponents, especially on the powerplay. Not only does it make him barely noticeable, but it also makes it feel like this is one move Tom Fitzgerald shouldn’t have made. Whatever Johnsson is doing wrong, he has to fix it before next season. For now, this award has to go to him as the worst player this year.
Best Player of the Year: Yegor Sharangovich Shines as a Potential Devils Legend
There were a lot of players this year that tried to make this lost season exciting. We could’ve had Ty Smith or even Jack Hughes win this award. However, the one person that showed who deserved this award the most is Yegor Sharangovich. Right from his second game, this guy has shown what he’s good at doing. Sharangovich has had many traits that have made him stand out, including his speed and his shot. You can also add his puck handling capabilities and his ability to fight for possession. He is the type of player that Devils fans want to see year after year perform well. It was so fun to watch this guy play this year, and we cannot wait to see what he can do next year with maybe Alexander Holtz on his line.
We hope other Devils players can learn and hopefully play the same way Sharangovich did. He was perhaps the best out of the rookies this year, and it clearly showed. That’s why he wins the award for the best player this year.