The Chicago Blackhawks haven't won the Stanley Cup twice in the last four years because of luck. They ice one of the most outstanding teams on a regular basis and the depth that is present throughout the lineup is somewhat staggering.
That is why selecting a team MVP at the end of the season is a rather difficult process. Narrowing it down to just five players is tough enough, but selecting just one?
Well, there could be worse problems for Chicago and its faithful fans.
A few quick things to note before we get rolling.
First, by MVP, we literally mean the most valuable player throughout the entire 82-game season. We're not counting playoffs or preseason or anything else. We're just trying to guess who will be the most consistently excellent player in 2013-14.
Secondly, we're approaching this question from a "What if they played this same season 10 times?" angle. If we give a player a 60 percent likelihood of winning the MVP, then he'd win it 60 percent of the time if the season was repeated for the sake of averages.
MVP Odds: 10 percent
It's tough to say that any player on one of the most followed teams in the NHL is underrated, but Duncan Keith doesn't get nearly enough credit for his outstanding defensive play. He's a warrior that will do whatever it takes to win, and that kind of attitude is contagious.
On another NHL team, Keith might be a perennial Norris Trophy candidate. He'd be given more chances to carry the load offensively, which (unfortunately) is the ticket to the "best defenseman in the game" show.
With Chicago, Keith has two simple goals: move the puck up the ice to the ultra-talented forwards and protect the house while doing so. He handles both responsibilities with aplomb and never takes the easy or selfish way out of a play.
The only reason Keith doesn't have a higher percentage is because Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane are so darn good. It's not a slight to what the defender brings to the table. Instead, it's a nod to how outstanding those two forwards are.
MVP Odds: 35 percent
Patrick Kane was one of our favorite league MVP candidates heading into the season, and while he's not burning up the league like Tomas Hertl, he hasn't started off the year in a slump either.
Few players in the NHL can embarrass defenders as frequently as Kane does and he typically finishes every look he's given.
His level of skill is unquestionable, and now that he has the desire to be one of the best players around, he will be. Kane has two goals through two games and looks like he's picking up right where he left off in 2013.
Barring injury, he'll post career-best numbers in 2013-14 and could break the 90-point barrier for the first time ever. If that kind of output isn't MVP-worthy, we don't know what is.
MVP Odds: 10 percent
The Blackhawks don't expect Corey Crawford to steal them many hockey games, and frankly, he doesn't have to. His job—like Keith's job—is a simple one: stop the stoppable pucks.
We like to compare him to a modern-day Chris Osgood. While that may be insulting to some Chicago fans, the comparison is a sound one. Crawford is probably never going to win a Vezina Trophy, and all of his success will be attributed to the team in front of him.
Read: He can't get any respect.
We see outstanding offensive teams fold every season when there isn't a good goaltender backing them up—see the Philadelphia Flyers and Tampa Bay Lighting during the 2013 regular season or the Pittsburgh Penguins in the playoffs for proof—and Crawford does everything that he's asked to do.
It's likely that he'll have a season for the ages one of these years, which is where the 10 percent comes from. Despite his steadying influence and ability to win big games, the 'Hawks just don't lean on Crawford often enough for him to be considered the team MVP.
MVP Odds: 40 percent
While Patrick Kane can wow in the offensive zone and Duncan Keith is a beast in his own end, Jonathan Toews brings the best of both on every shift and is capable of taking over hockey games in a variety of ways.
When Chicago needs a big defensive faceoff won, it's Captain Serious that's at the dot. When the 'Hawks need an extra push on offense, it's No. 19 that they double-shift. And if there's a player like Sidney Crosby or Pavel Datsyuk on the other team, it's Toews that is charged with shutting them down.
The only thing longer than the list of the responsibilities that he's charged with would be a list of times that he's stepped up and risen to the occasion.
Toews is the leader of the 'Hawks on and off the ice, and their most important player right now.
MVP Odds: 5 percent
A dark horse for team MVP honors if ever there was one, Marian Hossa is one of the most outstanding neutral-zone players in the NHL and has the capability to take over shifts with his speed and tenacity.
Chicago ices several players that share that ability, though, and the likes of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and even Patrick Sharp dim the spotlight on Hossa quite often.
Then there's the injury bug that seems to bite him wherever he goes.
Still, when he's healthy and at the top of his game, he's one of the top 25 players in the NHL and an outstanding two-way threat. It'd take a pretty miraculous series of events to see Hossa become the most important player on such a deep Chicago roster, but the talent is certainly there.