(Photo Credit: Greg M. Cooper/ USA Today Sports)
For those who may not know, or who have forgotten, the 7th player award is given to the Boston Bruins player who has exceeded expectations. The winner is decided by the fans. It is an award that Bruins fans ponder throughout the course of the season. I felt it was appropriate to make my case for some possible winners, and who I think will ultimately win it for the 2017-2018 season. Below is the list of the past winners.
Here is my top-3, starting with number three.
No. 3: Kevan Miller
So much can be said about Kevan Miller. Being a player that has received flak in the past, Miller was looked at to improve under his former coach in Providence, Bruce Cassidy. Miller has certainly delivered in the role of a third-pairing stalwart.
His offensive game, while not flashy, has improved tremendously throughout the course of this season. This has been a welcome sight to see in a league that has become so reliant on good skating and puck moving. A goal, 13 assists, and 14 points in a limited 59 games has Miller not too far out of reach from his career high of 18 points in the 2015-2016 season.
While improving the offensive and skating aspects of his game, his defensive and daunting physical presences haven’t diminished by any means. In fact, it has gotten better and Miller just looks so confident in any situation he is thrown into. His transformation should not go unnoticed at 30-years-old and he should be high up in the running for the 7th player award.
No. 2: Jake DeBrusk
The 14th overall pick from the historic 2015 draft has brought so much to the second line this season. Known primarily for his ability to score, after potting 42 goals in his draft year, DeBrusk brings so much more. Despite being a rookie, he just brings a competitiveness and knowledge for the game that would make one think he’s been in the league for five years already. Not to mention he hasn’t shied away from playing in crunch time, as four of his 14 goals are game-winners. 39 points in 64 games for a rookie isn’t too shabby either.
Coming into this season, I expected Jake DeBrusk to contribute, but to take a little bit of time to get comfortable. He really hasn’t needed that and has been pretty consistent all year. The completeness of his NHL-ready game, as well as his willingness to do the nitty-gritty things that has come so rapidly, should put him in legitimate consideration from the fans for the 7th player award.
Winner: Riley Nash
The guy who I imagine is the winner in the eyes of many, Riley Nash. Nash is currently crushing the 17 points he had last year with a mighty 41 with time to spare this season. His NHL career-high in points coming into this year was 25 in the 2014-2015 season.
On top of his ability to produce, Nash’s two-way game this season has been absurd. He carries the league’s best takeaway/giveaway (54/13) ratio is 4.2 and honestly makes things look easy whether he is playing on the third line or the first line. That very ability to play wherever needed is the main reason I think he should win the 7th player award outside of his prowess in all three zones. Most recently playing the first line while Patrice Bergeron has been sidelined.
Nash’s stellar play may ultimately price him out of Boston this summer in free-agency, but his presence in all three zones has been a massive help. These very reasons are why Riley Nash is my pick for the 2018 7th seventh player award.