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The Callies - AC's End of Season Awards 2015: Best Defenseman

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The end of season awards series spectacular continues with our second award to be dished out, and this one may be the most hotly-contested contest of the lot: the award for the team's best defenseman.

Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

We roll on to our second category in this year's end-of-season awards: best defenseman! The competition for this one was a lot stiffer than in years past, with several players making valid cases for the award. It's up to you the readers to decide.

Best Defenseman

Cam Fowler

GP

Goals

Assists

Points

SATF%

PIM

78

7

27

34

50.3%

14

Now in his fifth season as a pro, Cam Fowler is still improving his game, which is an encouraging sign for a 23-year-old who's already extremely talented.

Being relied upon for big minutes and big situations, Fowler has once again had an excellent offensive year putting up 34 points. And all this despite having to essentially lug Ben Lovejoy around the ice for the vast majority of the season. Since the arrival of Simon Despres, Fowler's play has shown a remarkable jump in productivity as well,  increasing his possession to 52.3% since the trade deadline.

The only real knock on Fowler is the same one that has consistently reared its head every year: he has shown himself to be mistake-prone and turn pucks over in his own end at inopportune times. Likewise, he also sits as the lowest-ranked player on this list in terms of possession numbers at 5-on-5.

Hampus Lindholm

GP

Goals

Assists

Points

SATF%

PIM

76

7

27

34

52.0%

32

What more is there to say about this kid other than a resounding "Holy cow?" Hampus Lindholm is good. Extremely good. Time and time again, he shows an incredible maturity beyond his years in terms of defensive responsibility, positioning, and decision making. He may not look super flashy night after night, but Hampus Lindholm may be the most reliable defenseman in the lineup.

He's got an offensive upside, notching a modest 34 points already this season. But perhaps his biggest stat is a team leading +26 rating, putting him up amongst the league leaders. His QoC has improved this season as well, as he's seeing more time against better-quality competition, demonstrating a still remarkable improvement on an already incredible rookie season.

Sami Vatanen

GP

Goals

Assists

Points

SATF%

PIM

65

12

25

37

51.6%

36

The young Finn has quickly become an electrifying sight to behold, and has the rest of the NHL on notice. The diminutive defender has been one of the very few lone bright spots on the Anaheim power play this season with his shoot-first mentality. In fact, seven of his 12 goals (tops amongst Anaheim d-men) have come on the power play.

Likewise, the Ducks power play seemed to be getting its act together when Vatanen went down with an injury and has still yet to fully recover from his 15-game absence. Vatanen himself, however, hasn't seemed to have missed too much of a step, walking right back into the lineup and looking well at home.

Whenever the team has needed energy from the back end this season, it's been Vatanen's booming shot and explosive speed that has provided the spark.

Francois Beauchemin

GP

Goals

Assists

Points

SATF%

PIM

62

11

12

23

51.0%

48

The "grizzled veteran" of the Anaheim blueline has found himself with a newfound role recently: resident sniper. Beauchemin has, for the first time in his 11-year career, pushed his goal tally to double digits. That has helped vault him to second amongst the team's defensemen in goal scoring behind only the aforementioned Sami Vatanen.

Beauchemin has also become a model for defensive consistency, playing nearly every game alongside his young hotshot defensive partner in Hampus Lindholm. Together the two have often faced the top forward lines from opposing teams night after night, and done extremely well in terms of preventing them from scoring. In fact, Beauchemin's +19 is second only to his partner's +26 on the entire Ducks team.

Simon Despres

GP*

Goals

Assists

Points

SATF%

PIM

15

1

5

6

55.5%

18

Yes I do realize he's only been with the Anaheim Ducks for less than 20 games since he was acquired at the trade deadline in exchange for Ben Lovejoy. However, the fact that he's on this list signifies just how much work he has done in his limited time with the Ducks.

Since coming aboard, Anaheim's SATF% numbers have spiked dramatically, and his pairing alongside fellow-nominee Cam Fowler has brought stability to the pairing, turning them into a solid puck-moving pair with a nose for shutting attackers down before they can set up for a chance. Likewise, Despres provides the physical, hard-hitting edge that coach Boudreau and Bob Murray seem to love so much, but does so with a large frame that skates extremely well.

In fact if there's one gripe about Despres so far, it's that he has been goaded into a few too many penalties due to being caught slightly out of position. Hence his high penalty-minute total so far for such a low number of games played.

*All statistics are for games solely with Anaheim.