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UFHL Celebrates Successful Season With Player Awards, Royals’ Huberdeau Named MVP

The Ultimate Fantasy Hockey League handed out their hardware for the 2021-22 season today, following the NHL Awards ceremony.

The UFHL mirrors most of the NHL awards — albeit based on fantasy point production and with different names — but also has a handful of unique awards that don’t exist in the real world. UFHL Commissioner Andrea Charanduk announced the winners on Twitter.

With Rock Republic leading the Grizzlies in the Klein Cup Final for the playoff championship, the focus shifted back to regular season success for individual players and franchises. The playoff MVP — now known as the Yzerman Sakic Trophy, our version of the Conn Smythe Trophy — is still to be determined, awarded to the player who produces the most fantasy points throughout the Klein Cup Playoffs. Connor McDavid remains the leader there but Cale Makar, Nathan MacKinnon, Nikita Kucherov and Andrei Vasilevskiy are within striking distance in the Stanley Cup Final.

The regular season MVP was something of a surprise, with Jonathan Huberdeau of the Royals winning the Wayne Gretzky Trophy — edging out McDavid of the Yetis and Auston Matthews from Blades of Steel — after receiving the most votes from UFHL franchises. Huberdeau, who finished as the runner-up in regular season fantasy points (430 to McDavid’s 459), led the Royals to the Founders’ Trophy — the UFHL’s regular season title for topping the standings. Matthews was third in fantasy points (412, among six players topping 400 points) but Huberdeau was a worthy winner in terms of “most valuable player to their franchise.” He took another big leap in taking the Royals to the top of the league, along with Matthew Tkachuk (407) and Alex Ovechkin (366) as their top-three producers.

McDavid and Matthews didn’t win that Hart Trophy equivalent but did earn the Art Ross and Rocket Richard honours, respectively. McDavid won the Mario Lemieux Trophy for the most fantasy points during the regular season (459), while Matthews took home the Brett Hull Trophy for recording the most fantasy points from goals (158).

The other award that was previously announced following the regular season saw Andrei Vasilevskiy and Anton Forsberg of the Titans claim the Bower Sawchuk Trophy (Jennings equivalent) for most fantasy points from a goaltending tandem (373).

The more prestigious goaltending award — our version of the Vezina, known as the Dominik Hasek Trophy — went to Jacob Markstrom of the Gators for the most fantasy points by a goaltender (298). Juuse Saros of the Outlaws (293) was the runner-up and Igor Shesterkin of Red Army (292) rounded out the top three among UFHL netminders this season.

As for the defenders, Roman Josi of the Crypto Knights won the Nicklas Lidstrom Trophy (Norris equivalent) for the most fantasy points by a defenseman (389) ahead of Cale Makar of the Titans (369) and Victor Hedman of the Mystics (362).

The UFHL also has an award for the top defensive D, the Chris Pronger Trophy, which went to MacKenzie Weegar of the Titans for the most fantasy points from blocks, takeaways and +/- rating (63). Jacob Trouba of Kamikaze and Chris Tanev of the Tornadoes were the runners-up there (both 57).

Not surprisingly, most those players were also named to the UFHL’s all-star teams. McDavid, Huberdeau and Matthews were the forwards on the First All-Star Team, with Josi and Makar on defense, and Markstrom in goal. The Second All-Star Team featured Matthew Tkachuk with Leon Draisaitl of the Grizzlies and Johnny Gaudreau of West Coast Express as forwards, Hedman and Kris Letang of the Outlaws as defensemen, and Saros between the pipes. There were some close races for those honours too, with Shesterkin finishing just a single point behind Saros, while Gaudreau (401) claimed the final forward spot ahead of Steven Stamkos of Dynasty (399), J.T. Miller of the Gators (399) and Kirill Kaprizov of Red Army (398).

The other big winner among players was Tanner Jeannot of the Mystics, who emerged with two awards — winning the Teemu Selanne Trophy (Calder equivalent) for the most fantasy points by a rookie (291) as well as The Hammer Trophy for the most fantasy points from hits, fights and penalty minutes (140). That award for the UFHL’s top enforcer is named after UFFS Digital Athlete Dave ‘The Hammer’ Schultz, who holds the NHL record for most penalty minutes in a single season. Radko Gudas (136) and Brady Tkachuk (119), both of the Ice Vikings, were in contention among the top three for The Hammer Trophy.

Jeannot also headlined the All-Rookie Team, along with Michael Bunting of the CanWest Generals and Trevor Zegras of Red Army as forwards, Moritz Seider of the Battlehawks and Martin Fehervary of the Royals as defensemen, and Alex Nedeljkovic of the Ice Vikings in goal, who got the nod over Ville Husso of the Norse Stars by less than a fantasy point (0.24).

The Royals, as regular season champs, also cleaned up off the ice with their management team of Arnie Entz (GM), Brent Baldwin (assistant GM) and Jason Melnyk (AGM) earning the PuckPedia GM of the Year Award as voted by their peers, the UFHL franchises. The Royals won with 10 votes ahead of Rock Republic (6), Kamikaze (5), the expansion Bentley Jacks (3), Grizzlies and West Coast Express (both 2) among the franchises receiving multiple votes, while the Yetis, Snipers, Titans and CanWest Generals (1 each) also earned recognition.

The Royals swung several blockbusters but none bigger than acquiring Matthew Tkachuk from the Stallions last August in exchange for prized prospect Quinton Byfield and Denis Gurianov. They also landed Tim Stutzle from Red Army last July for Bowen Byram in a straight up swap of recent top-five picks. Those were signature moves heading into this season but a perceived overpayment for Valeri Nichushkin from Kamikaze in January — exactly two months ahead of the trade deadline — paid dividends down the stretch as the Royals pulled away from the Titans to claim the Founders’ Trophy.

Funded by their ownership group, Crown Sports & Entertainment, and benefitting from their affiliation with the Pipeline Prospects scouting agency that Arnie heads up, the Royals also overhauled their defence in welcoming five new faces from trades, including All-Rookie Team member Martin Fehervary from the Godfathers in September and Sean Durzi from the Blizzard in November — before he broke out as a runner-up for All-Rookie honours — along with veterans Alexander Edler, also from the Blizzard in August, Jaccob Slavin from the Gators in August, and Brandon Montour from the Eliminators in December. The Royals targeted veteran forwards too, with the acquisitions of Zach Parise and Kyle Palmieri when the Islanders still had games in hand, plus Corey Perry as a deadline addition and his old running mate Ryan Getzlaf in a swap of Hall-of-Famers for Joe Thornton back in November. Everything was coming up Royals this year and they were full marks for that award.

Last but not least, the Royals also walked away with the Maplewood Social Media Award as the franchise that best utilizes social media for promotion and engagement. For winning that award, chosen by the Competition Committee, the Royals will be gifted a custom jersey made by Maplewood Hockey, the official uniform supplier of the UFHL.

Consistency was the key here, through daily promotion of their franchise, the league and the platform, while also recruiting several new members to the UFFS community. With all 32 franchises active on Twitter, there were other candidates that warranted consideration for their creativity and raising the bar in that regard, but the Royals’ frequency was unrivalled over the course of the entire season as the deciding factor.

Among the contenders for the Maplewood Social Media Award were the Battlehawks, Brutes, Duckman’s Domination, CanWest Generals, Godfathers, Grizzlies, Norse Stars, Red Army and Rock Republic. That list goes on, with the Warriors and Stingrays also in the mix.

On the creative front, there were firsts from the Norse Stars’ digital mascot Drake to Duckman’s trade block update from a frozen pond to Rock Republic allowing the community to select their starting goaltender for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final through an $SCO Picks contest — and getting rewarded with a 16-save shutout win from Darcy Kuemper!

The CanWest Generals also shone with their video production and professional presentation that included a virtual training camp with updates on their roster cuts leading up to the season. The Brutes flexed a strong graphics game at times too, while the Grizzlies and Godfathers highlighted their top performers on a nightly basis — props for the MVG promotion as