Odds for Toronto Maple Leafs' 2013-14 MVP

James Onusko@@jonuskoContributor IIIOctober 7, 2013

Odds for Toronto Maple Leafs' 2013-14 MVP

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    We are just one week into the 2013-14 NHL season, but it's never too early to start handicapping potential MVP odds for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

    The club has begun on a winning note with three victories in three games. While there have been some warts, the six points are banked and have the Leafs out to an early lead in the Atlantic Division standings.

    Seventy-nine regular-season games remain, but here are the five early leaders for team MVP honours for the Leafs this season.

    Honourable mentions go to Phil Kessel, Mason Raymond and Cody Franson.

    All stats can be found on nhl.com.


Tyler Bozak: 45:1

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    Tyler Bozak has had a good start to the season by contributing both on the scoreboard and in the defensive zone.

    While he will never be confused with an elite No. 1 centre, if he can maintain this high level of play, the Leafs do not need to look for a first-line centre for the time being. Acquiring one is also much easier said than done.

    He is not in the top five of Leafs scoring, but he's done the subtle things well. He's been on the right side of the offensive player in his own zone, he's battled against some quick forwards in the Leafs' first three games and he's put up some timely points.

    Bozak can play in all game situations, and it will be interesting to see if his relative Corsi number can improve this year while the Leafs continue to be outshot to date.

    He's a longshot, but Bozak is currently in the mix as Toronto's MVP. 

James Reimer: 25:1

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    Yes, James Reimer was pulled against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night, but he was a huge factor in the Leafs winning their first game against the Canadiens

    While he hasn't come racing out of the chute to start the season, he did stop 34 of 37 shots in his first game. His save percentage is under .900 right now, but expect that to move back to his career number, just over .920, in the next few weeks.

    The Leafs will need both Reimer and Jonathan Bernier playing at a high level if they hope to continue to win these games where they are outshot.

    Expect Reimer to up his play once he's back between the pipes. 

Dion Phaneuf: 15:1

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    Dion Phaneuf has had a very good start to the season. He has two points in the first three games. More importantly, he has logged the third-most minutes in the league to date.

    The former Red Deer Rebel has had seven shots in those games and he has played against some very good forwards, particularly against the Senators and Canadiens. 

    He and Cody Franson have been stalwarts on the point, for the most part, and Phaneuf will continue to get serious consideration as a depth defenceman for Canada at the Sochi Olympics if he continues to play this well. 

    If we're looking at MVP, which doesn't always mean most outstanding or highest scoring, the team's captain is in the early mix for this award.

Joffrey Lupul: 10:1

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    It would be difficult to leave the leading scorer (tied with Mason Raymond) off this list. Joffrey Lupul has had a very good offensive start to the season with four points in the first three games.

    He's had first-line minutes to start the season, and it appears that he is entrenched there for the time being. Lupul has played well in all three zones, and his on-ice play has to be inspiring his younger teammates in particular.

    Lupul did not receive an invite to the Team Canada Olympic orientation earlier this year, but it would be very surprising if he is not on their radar screen.

    If he can continue at a point-per-game pace, there is every reason to believe that Lupul could emerge as the team's MVP in 2013-14. 

Jonathan Bernier: 5:1

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    Jonathan Bernier has been as good as advertised for the Leafs so far. His athleticism is exceptional. With his ability to position himself well and have few wasted movements, Bernier could be the bona fide No. 1 goalie in Toronto.

    While Bernier won't be able to maintain his current levels of 0.64 goals against average and a save percentage of .979, if he continues to win games, Leafs Nation will not be overly concerned with the fine print.

    James Reimer is certain to improve his numbers soon, so don't be surprised to see both goalies get a lot of time in net. Randy Carlyle's job would be much easier if a clear No. 1 emerges, but there is no way that a team will be able to lean on one goaltender exclusively this season.

    But if Bernier keeps up this exceptional play, the choice for the Leafs MVP this year will be an easy one.