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Coyotes announce end-of-season award winners; Kuemper named MVP

Goaltender Darcy Kuemper #35 of the Arizona Coyotes in action during the second period of the NHL game against the Chicago Blackhawks at Gila River Arena on March 26, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Blackhawks 1-0. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Arizona Coyotes’ season was set to come to an end on Saturday with the team’s finale at home against the Winnipeg Jets, and with that came the annual end-of-season award winners.

After a season that saw the Coyotes remain in playoff contention until their penultimate contest, there were plenty of players who contributed greatly in various ways.

The Coyotes entered Saturday 39-34-8 and had 11 different players score double-digit goals.

So, with that, the Coyotes awarded the following:

Team MVP: Darcy Kuemper

Unsurprisingly, the team’s most valuable player was goaltender Darcy Kuemper.

Kuemper entered the season as the backup to Antti Raanta, but when the starter went down with an injury, Kuemper led the way and kept the Coyotes in postseason contention until just days before season’s end. He also made 22 consecutive starts, tied for the second-longest such streak in franchise history.

He did not start on Saturday. He finishes the season with 55 starts and a .925 save percentage to go along with five shutouts.

His selection as MVP was voted on by Coyotes broadcasters and media and was unanimous.

Ganem Jewelers Three Star Award: Darcy Kuemper

In addition to the obvious statistics with his stellar play, Kuemper was selected as a star of the game 19 times this season and the first star 10 times. He was also recently named the NHL’s Third Star of the Week.

Leading Scorer: Clayton Keller

In his second NHL season, Keller scored 14 goals with 33 assists for 47 points. That means Keller has led his team in points in both of his full NHL seasons.

He also became the youngest player in franchise history to score 100 career points and was named an All-Star in 2018-19.

Jukka Nieminen Memorial Award: Niklas Hjalmarsson

Hjalmarsson was outstanding all season, displaying his defensive acumen and using elite-level stick work in his own end to stymie opposing scoring chances. For that, he was given the Fry’s Food Stores Hardest Working Player/Jukka Nieminen Memorial Award as voted on by the fans.

The three-time Stanley Cup champion joined Keller as one of just two Coyotes this season to play in all 82 games and, coming into the game, has blocked a career-high 184 shots, good for second-most in the NHL. He’s one of only five players in the NHL with at least 100 blocked shots every year since 2009 (including last season, in which Hjalmarsson missed 34 games).

Gila River Casinos Man of the Year Award: Oliver Ekman-Larsson

Finally, captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson won the Gila River Hotels & Casinos Man of the Year Award for “dedication, commitment and passion for bettering the lives of those in the community.”

The Coyotes, in a statement, said Ekman-Larsson donated money and a suite to the Boys and Girls Club of Scottsdale, a donation worth $125,000.

He also gives his time to meet with kids from the Boys & Girls Club, attended the opening of a DEK hockey rink, and participated in and/or was an ambassador for various community initiatives. The team said Ekman-Larsson participated in all Coyotes community events this season.


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