The 7th Annual Puck Junk Awards

At the end of June, the NHL doled out its annual awards, giving props to the best rookie, the top defenseman, and the most valuable player, among others. 

Unfortunately, the NHL overlooks other players who should also receive awards, but don’t – such as the player who came out of nowhere and impressed everyone, the player who can put up the points and their fists, and the player that everyone wants to punch in the face. 

That’s where the Puck Junk awards come in. For seven years now, this website has given shout-outs to the players who really deserve them. So, here are your Puck Junk Award Winners for 2024! 

The Chris Kontos Trophy

For the player you never heard of that came out of nowhere and surprised everyone — like the way Chris Kontos did when he scored four goals for the Tampa Bay Lightning in the team’s first-ever game back in 1992.

And the winner is…Arturs Silovs of the Vancouver Canucks! 

Why? How can this not be goaltender Arturs Silovs? With only nine games of NHL experience of the past two seasons, the Latvian goalie was nary a blip on the radar of most NHL fans. But then Canucks starter Thatcher Demko was injured in Game 1 of the first round of the NHL playoffs, followed by Casey DeSmith getting hurt in Game 3. Silovs took over and propelled the Canucks to the second round, including a 1-0 shutout win in Game 6, clinching the series. Silovs then played all seven games for the Canucks in Round 2. Although Vancouver lost, it wasn’t because of Silovs, with all but one game being decided by one goal. Silovs now has played more NHL playoff games than regular season games. 

Past Winners:
Aiden Hill, Vegas Golden Knights (2023)
Joe Snively, Washington Capitals (2022)
Alex Nedeljkovic, Carolina Hurricanes (2021)
Dominik Kubalik, Chicago Blackhawks (2020)
Jordan Binnington, St. Louis Blues (2019)
William Karlsson, Vegas Golden Knights (2018)

The Boomerang of the Year Award

For the player that went away, and then came back. Had this award existed a decade ago, past recipients would have included Peter Forsberg and Claude Lemieux.

And the winner is…Patrick Kane of the Detroit Red Wings!

Why? After a long hiatus following a hip resurfacing surgery, and then a smaller hiatus following an unrelated lower-body injury, Patrick Kane finally looked like himself again. His quality of play really slipped during the 2022-23 season, and his postseason performance for the New York Rangers last year was disappointing. But in 2023-24, Kane was almost a point-per-game player again, putting up 20 goals and 27 assists for 47 points in 50 games. Kane needed a strong comeback year, and he had one, which is impressive considering the winger is now 35.  

Past Winners: 
Eric Staal, Florida Panthers (2023)
Brian Boyle, Pittsburgh Penguins (2022)
Joe Thornton, Toronto Maple Leafs (2021)
Justin Williams, Carolina Hurricanes (2020)
Ilya Kovalchuk, Los Angeles Kings (2019)
Mike Fisher, Nashville Predators (2018)

The Len Broderick Trophy

For the goalie least likely to play in an NHL game, but actually got to play in an NHL game. The award is named after Len Broderick, who was a “standby” goalie that suited up for the Montreal Canadiens for one game in 1957 to fill in for Jacques Plante.

And the winner is…Yaniv Perets of the Carolina Hurricanes!

Why? Yaniv Perets was fourth on the Hurricanes’ goaltending depth chart last season, but he managed to get into an NHL game.  Perets, undrafted, was signed as a free agent by the Hurricanes in 2023 after three seasons of collegiate hockey. As usual, a lot of dominoes had to fall in order for Perets to get his moment in the NHL. Top goalie Frederik Andersen out with a blood clotting issue. Third-string nyetminder Pyotor Kotchetkov had a concussion. And second-string goalie Antti Raanta gave up five goals in the ‘Canes game on January 15, 2024, against the Kings. Perets was put into the game with 12:46 left in the third period, making one save. 

Honorable mention goes to Joe O’Brien of the Dallas Stars, who served as an emergency backup goaltender but did not actually see any ice time. 

Past Winners: 
Matt Berlin, Edmonton Oilers & Jett Alexander, Toronto Maple Leafs (2023)
Tom Hodges, Anaheim Ducks (2022)
Michael Houser, Buffalo Sabres (2021)
David Ayres, Carolina Hurricanes (2020)
Hunter Miska, Arizona Coyotes (2019)
Scott Foster, Chicago Blackhawks (2018)

The Bob Probert Punchbowl

For being a tough mofo that can fight and contribute offensively.

And the winner is…Brady Tkachuk of the Ottawa Senators. 

Why? No, you are not hallucinating. Tkachuk won this award last year, as well as in 2021. There were 311 fights this season, and Tkachuk was involved in six of them – usually standing up for a teammate – to go along with his 74 points in 81 games. Tkachuk does what a great team captain does: put up the points and protect his teammates. While there were players with more fighting majors in 2023-24, most were one-dimensional fighters who didn’t score much. Annually, Tkachuk has proven that he can score and fight. If he keeps it up, this award may need to be re-named in his honor when he retires. 

Past Winners: 
Brady Tkachuk, Ottawa Senators (2023)
Tanner Jeannot, Nashville Predators (2022)
Brady Tkachuk, Ottawa Senators (2021)
Ryan Reaves, Las Vegas Golden Knights (2020)
Michael Ferland, Carolina Hurricanes (2019)
Tom Wilson, Washington Capitals (2018)

The Kessel Kup

For being the playoff MVP who was not given the playoff MVP award because someone more popular was voted as the playoff MVP. Named in honor of Penguins’ forward Phil Kessel, who should have won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2016 as the playoff MVP, only to lose to Sidney Crosby.

And the winner is…Sergei Bobrovsky of the Florida Panthers!

Why? I’ve already explained ad nauseum why Bobrovsky should have won the Conn Smythe Trophy: he got 16 wins in the postseason, which is the most-important playoff stat there is. And while Connor McDavid had a stellar postseason, the bottom line is that his team lost. Why even give the MVP award to the player on the losing team? While Bobrovsky didn’t have the greatest Game 4 or Game 5 in the Stanley Cup Final, overall, he was consistently great in the postseason for Florida. If the Panthers didn’t have Bob, they wouldn’t be drinking from the Cup right now. 

Past Winners: 
Not Awarded in 2023
Not Awarded in 2022
Not Awarded in 2021
Not Awarded in 2020
Jordan Binnington, St. Louis Blues (2019)
Evgeny Kuznetsov, Washington Capitals (2018)

The Claude Lemieux Award

For being the guy that everyone wants to punch in the face.

And the winner is…Nick Cousins of the Florida Panthers!

Why? In a poll of NHL players conducted by The Athletic in 2024, Nick Cousins was voted as the “player whose face you most want to punch,” receiving 28.57% of the votes from his peers. So, it’s kind of hard to argue with that. Although only 147 NHLers voted in that poll, Cousins still got twice as many votes as Brad Marchand, so that is saying something.

Cousins has steadily built reputation of being a dirty player over his 10-year NHL career. Oddly enough, other than his entry-level contract with the Flyers, Cousins has not stuck around with any team longer than two seasons – but maybe I’m reading too much into that. Regardless, Cousins likes to dish out reckless and borderline illegal hits, but then chooses to turtle when he has to answer the bell for his actions. His hits on Erik Gudbranson at the end of 2023 and on Juuso Valimaki in early 2024 were especially egregious.

If you need further convincing, here is a video that compiles some of Cousins’ worst hits from the past few seasons, followed by him turtling or otherwise avoiding responsibility for his actions. 

Past Winners: 
Jordan Binnington, St. Louis Blues (2023)
Nazem Kadri, Colorado Avalanche (2022)
Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning (2021)
Matthew Tkachuk, Calgary Flames (2020)
Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins (2019)
Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins (2018)

The McLlwain Medal of Merit

Named in honor of NHL journeyman Dave McLlwain, who suited up for four different NHL teams in one season, this award honors the guy who changed teams the most in 2023-24. 

And the winner is…Anthony Beauvillier of the Vancouver Canucks…then of the Chicago Blackhawks…then of the Nashville Predators. 

Why? Two players played for three different NHL teams during the 2023-24 season: Beauvillier and Tobias Björnfot, who appeared in only four NHL games this season. Beauvillier, on the other hand, has been a regular in the NHL since 2016-17 and was part of the trade that brought Bo Horvat to the Islanders in 2023. Beauvillier  was traded to the Blackhawks in November 2023, and then again to the Predators in March 2024 – both times for a 5th round pick. Hey, at least he’s consistent! 

Past Winners: 
Dryden Hunt, Rangers / Avalanche / Maple Leafs (2023)
Riley Nash, Jets / Lightning / Coyotes (2022)
Greg Pateryn, Wild / Avalanche / Sharks (2021)
Ilya Kovalchuk, Kings / Canadiens / Capitals (2020)

What player would you like to see win one of these awards? Or what new award would you like to see? Leave a suggestion below or hit me up on X/Twitter

Special thanks to Tim Parish for helping select this year’s award winners.

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Author: Sal Barry

Sal Barry is the editor and webmaster of Puck Junk. He is a freelance hockey writer, college professor and terrible hockey player. Follow him on Twitter @puckjunk

2 thoughts on “The 7th Annual Puck Junk Awards”

  1. The Pheonix Copley Award issued to the player most likely to have his name incorrectly spelled online the most.

    Inaugural winner should be obvious.

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