Can Evgeni Malkin Be This Years' MVP?

Scott BarnerContributor IMarch 27, 2009

PITTSBURGH - MARCH 25:  Forward Evgeni Malkin #71 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates with the puck against the Calgary Flames on March 25, 2009 at Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

To sum it up in two words....probably not!

Should he be this seasons' MVP?.....definitely yes!!!!!

The writers have pretty much chosen their MVP and it is Alexander Ovechkin.  A straw poll was taken earlier this week, of writers who vote, and Ovechkin was the winner.

This should come as no big surprise. The criteria used to pick the MVP weighs as heavily on popularity as it does on skill. Yes, Ovechkin is a gifted goal scorer and he will probably finish tops in goals this year but what else can he do?

Can he pass the puck with skill and precision setting up his fellow teammates?  Just take a look at the number of assists he has this year and the answer is a big NO.

How are his defensive skills? Does he play a good north and south game or does he lag behind the play and is nonexistent on defense? I think you'll find that he is pretty much nonexistent on defense.

Is he a good role model and ambassador for the league or does he showboat in excess? Just look a the tape of him celebrating his 50th goal and I think you'll be able to answer that.

Malkin, on the other hand, plays north and south like no other in the league today. He is a goal scorer and a play maker. He hustles back and plays defense well. He IS a team player and a good ambassador.

So why won't he be MVP? Because he flies under the radar.  He is quiet and not flashy.  Not good qualities to be the poster boy for the NHL.

Hockey gets very little coverage on US national networks like ESPN. When ESPN does show any hockey highlights, you can bet they will contain Ovechkin. The media loves him.

This is why Malkin won't win MVP this year.  He goes virtually unnoticed while Ovechkin warms his hands on his hot stick, and wears a funny hat and glasses during the skills competition during All Star weekend.

It would be nice to have both Malkin and Ovechkin on my team. If I had to choose only one I would choose Malkin. I would rather have a multi-dimensional player on my team any day. Especially one who can score goals, play defense and make plays like Malkin.  Evgeni is a team player as well. It's not all about him.

As long as the league and the U.S national media value showmanship over all around play, a player like Malkin can never be MVP.