Odds for Los Angeles Kings' 2013-14 MVP
This is not the way the Los Angeles Kings expected to start the 2013-14 season. The Kings are 1-2-0 three games in, with their lone victory coming in a shootout against the Minnesota Wild in the season opener.
That said, there are 79 more games to be played and surely a few players will step up over the next few months.
Which player will rise above the rest and prove the most valuable to the team?
This article considers the first three games of the season as well as performances in past years to determine which players will get MVP consideration come April.
Here are the Kings with the best odds of being named team MVP for the 2013-14 NHL season.
The second-line center is off to a slow start this season, with no goals, one assist and a minus-three rating through three games. However, he has the potential to be one of the Kings' leading scorers as long as he keeps feeding friend and linemate Jeff Carter the puck every chance he gets.
The captain of the Kings has no points, five hits and is a minus-one in three games. He is coming off a hamstring injury, which may be hindering his performance. You can expect the $47 million man to be playing a lot better by next month.
Brown won the Bill Libby Memorial Award as the Kings' MVP in 2008-09.
5. Slava Voynov, 25:1
The Russian defenseman is coming off a breakout 2012-13 campaign during which he led all L.A. blueliners in scoring in both the regular season and playoffs.
Voynov has an assist, four hits and a couple of blocked shots thus far this season. He has great speed, puck-moving ability and good offensive instincts. However, even if he plays as well as he did in the 2013 postseason, the Kings' defensive depth will likely keep Voynov on the second pairing with Willie Mitchell.
At age 23, Voynov is a long shot to be the MVP on the team this season. Four or five years from now, he may be a favorite.
4. Jonathan Quick, 10:1
He's been pulled once, let in an awful, fluky goal and his numbers aren't pretty.
But it is far, far too early to predict that this will be another average season for Jonathan Quick. The 27-year-old American netminder has proven he can bounce back in much bigger situations.
Quick made a crucial mistake misplaying the puck behind the net in overtime of Game 1 of the 2013 conference quarterfinals against the Blues. He quickly put it behind him, winning six of his next seven games and eventually leading the Kings back to the Western Conference Final.
Expect Quick to turn things around Wednesday night against the Ottawa Senators and out-duel another great American goaltender in Craig Anderson.
3. Drew Doughty, 7:1
Drew Doughty is one of only a handful of elite, young NHL defensemen who can do it all. He can play a shutdown role when his team's in the lead, lay a big open-ice hit to shift momentum and effectively quarterback a power play.
The 23-year-old has the edge on Voynov because of his experience (five seasons) and size, (6'1", 213 pounds).
Doughty's best season came in 2009-10, when a 59-point effort helped him earn his first Norris Trophy nomination. He's scored once this season and has three hits and three blocked shots.
If Doughty can top the 50-point mark again while also playing responsible hockey in the defensive zone, he will certainly better his MVP chances.
2. Jeff Carter, 5:1
Last season's Bill Libby Memorial Award winner has a good shot to earn the nod again in 2013-14.
Jeff Carter finished fourth in the NHL with 26 goals last season and has picked up where he left off, notching two in the Kings' first three games. He is also second on the team in blocked shots (five) and faceoff percentage (63.6).
The 28-year-old continues to find open space and show off his quick release in the slot. He comes in ahead of Doughty because of his greater ability to impact the game offensively with his shot.
L.A. has trouble scoring at times and there is no one else on the team who has the power and accuracy that Carter does.
He and Doughty do have something in common, as both are fighting for a spot on Team Canada for the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
1. Anze Kopitar, 3:2
When you lead a team in scoring for six consecutive seasons and are once again tied atop the list early in 2013-14, the odds of being the MVP should be in your favor.
And that's the case for Anze Kopitar, a three-time winner (2008, 2010, 2011) of the Bill Libby Memorial Award.
Kopitar is 26 years old and enters his prime with already six years' worth of NHL experience. He is among the league's best forwards, using a combination of size and skill in the offensive zone. Kopitar has two assists and leads all L.A. forwards in ice time, averaging nearly 22 minutes per game thus far in 2013-14.
He tops Jeff Carter because of his ability to have a huge impact in the defensive zone as well.
Look for Kopitar to maintain a point-per-game pace throughout the season and into the playoffs.
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