IMG_1394By Andrew Thompson  | Follow on twitter @godwentwhoops

For the last half-century, the 7th Player Award has been awarded to the Boston Bruins player that performs above and beyond expectations.  It’s one of the most difficult local awards to predict. Some seasons, the logical choice is selected. Other years, a dark horse candidate grabs the trophy.

Every once in a while, the Boston Bruins player declared the ‘cutest’ ends up winning.

The 7th Player Award should go to a player that has exceeded the expectations of the fans. This year there are several deserving candidates. Jake DeBrusk,  Matt Grzelcyk, Danton Heinen, Charlie McAvoy,  and Anton Khudobin have been suggested as a possible winner. Each of these players has brought something to the table in Boston, and all of them are deserving candidates.

In my mind, there is one player that has truly gone above and beyond in Boston.  He was expected to be a low ice-time grinder for the Black and Gold. But through hard work (and the occasional injury) he has found himself on every forward line for the Bruins this year.  The player I’ve voted for is forward Riley Nash.

The 28-year old Nash has been the biggest and best surprise for the Bruins organization this year. He’s become the go-to player on the squad when the B’s need to change a lineup. While he’s spent most of his time on the B’s third line, the versatile Nash now finds himself on the B’s top line as Patrice Bergeron heals from a hairline fracture in his foot.

Riley Nash is currently tied for eighth on the team in points with 32.  He’s having a career year in goals (12) and assists (20).  He wins just under half (49.9%, 372/746) of his battles in the playoff circle, and is the best jack-of-all-trades player the team has right now (with the exception of Bergeron).

He’s currently fourth among forwards for overall ice-time. (Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak are ahead of him.) He’s third in shifts as well(1252).  Among the B’s forwards he shares the lead for the most amount of short-ice time as well (1:53).  He’s even tied with Bergeron for the most amount of takeaways this season (48). If any player has exceeded the expectations on the team this year, it’s Nash.

Nash’s total package skill set has been one of the great surprises for the Black and Gold. He’s also been one of the big bargains in Boston. At just $900,000 this season, Nash has proven to be one of the best grabs made by Don Sweeney in his tenure as the B’s general manager.

All these numbers look great for Nash as he heads into a contract year with Boston. He’s been a great deal for the B’s these last two years, and the organization will probably try to pick him up for another two or three seasons.  Sadly, the B’s cap space may make that a daunting prospect.

Hopefully, the fans will take a look at Nash’s service to the team this season and give him the award he’s certainly earned.