With today’s announcement of Troy Mann’s two-year contract extension with the Belleville Senators, there’s no better time to present a brand-new Prospect Award: Best Late-Round Pick, affectionately named the “Mann of the Year” after Ottawa’s Chief Amateur Scout.
Hitting on less valuable draft picks, i.e, after the second round can mean the difference between whether or not a team can maintain long-term success. Look at the Tampa Bay Lightning, for example. Would they have won the Cup last year without selecting Brayden Point in the third round in 2014, or Ondrej Palat in the seventh round in 2011?
The NHL draft is full of hidden gems each year, and Trent Mann’s proven to be a pretty good excavator. 2017 fourth-round pick Drake Batherson would run away with the award this year had we not made him exempt, but there were a lot of intriguing names to choose from. That said, they were only two that received over three percent of the votes.
Here are the nominees:
Angus Crookshank: A fifth-round pick from 2018, the North Vancouver native stood out, both in collegiate and professional play, scoring 18 points in 20 games with the University of New Hampshire, and 16 points in 19 games with the Belleville Senators.
Angus Crookshank finally pots one! Sokolov and Brown assist.— Everyday Sens (@EverydaySens) April 22, 2021
That’s 11 points through 9 games for @Angusshanks8. #GoSensGo pic.twitter.com/jhRVeA5V0I
Joey Daccord: Although his season was cut short by a lower-body injury, the 2015 seventh-rounder from Boston appeared in eight games for the big club and posting a 1-3-1 record and a .897 save percentage while earning his first career NHL win against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Joey Daccord gets his first NHL win against Toronto after Matt Murray got injured in warm-ups. His post-game interview was awesome. pic.twitter.com/Jw6urNTsfw— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) March 15, 2021
Maxence Guénette: Scoring 22 points in 36 games with Val d’Or, the 2019 7th-round pick from Sainte-Foy, Quebéc will start his professional career with Belleville next season, hoping to add to the organization’s pool of talented young right-handed defensemen.
Maxence Guénette scored against Rimouski for the third consecutive game.— Sens Prospects (@SensProspects) November 29, 2020
With 5 goals and 16 points in 15GP (with time to play in today's game), Guénette is well on his way to smashing his career highs. Val-d'Or is looking like an elite QMJHL team.pic.twitter.com/z4mm5e68oM
And now for the winner, with 58.7% of the vote...
What a way to end a season that ended way too soon; Joey Daccord is the Mann of the Year for the 2021 season! Despite winning only one game for Ottawa, he did an admirable job dealing with the volume of shots he had to face against the many threats of the Canadian Division.
Joey Daccord makes a huge save on Yamamoto. #GoSensGo pic.twitter.com/dmoO5RxfBf— Everyday Sens (@EverydaySens) March 13, 2021
That being said, I’m not sure I agree with the majority on this one. Daccord certainly got more exposure through NHL games, but I did watch a bit of Crookshank’s play with UNH and I came away very impressed by his ability to move the puck into high-danger areas. He averaged five shots per game as a junior, and his first-year AHL production is comparable to that of Alex Formenton, who’s a solid prospect in his own right.
As for Daccord, he’ll most certainly be in the mix for a full-time backup role in the NHL next year, however, it may not necessarily be with Ottawa. With two years left on an affordable $750k per season, along with being ineligible for waivers next season, he could be an option for the Seattle Kraken at the upcoming expansion draft. With all due respect to Daccord, there isn’t much of a case to protect him over Filip Gustavsson, who’s younger and has a stronger sample of NHL games. The best-case scenario is both are still in Ottawa next year because until a true number one emerges, they need the depth.
Be sure to tune in on Thursday for the presentation of our next award, Best Newcomer!
Voting Breakdown: Joey Daccord (58.7%), Angus Crookshank (28.9%), Maxence Guénette (2.8%), Leevi Meriläinen (2.6%), Viktor Lodin (1.8%), Kevin Mandolese/Cole Reinhardt (1.6%), Philippe Daoust (1.0%)