Olympic Hockey 2014: Updated MVP Odds Post-Group Stage

Steve MacfarlaneFeatured ColumnistFebruary 16, 2014

Olympic Hockey 2014: Updated MVP Odds Post-Group Stage

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    Julio Cortez/Associated Press

    The group stage is over, and the early results are in.

    There are plenty of games to come—all with the threat of elimination—and many capable players all ready to make their mark at the Sochi Winter Games. But some have already done that.

    Phil Kessel, Drew Doughty, Erik Karlsson and T.J. Oshie are among those who have made a lasting impression while leading their teams straight to the quarterfinals.

    Read on for a look at the most likely MVP candidates so far and their odds of earning that honor.

Jonas Hiller (Switzerland)

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    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    Odds: 100-1

     

    Why you should bet on him

    Thanks to a pair of shutouts in the preliminary round, the Swiss are being talked about as medal contenders. It would be a massive surprise if Switzerland did somehow make it through the qualifying game, the quarterfinals and into the semis for a real medal shot, but if it does, it will be because of the Anaheim Ducks' Jonas Hiller stealing at least two more games. 

     

    Why you should save your money

    Come on. The Swiss—in a medal game? That would be like Slovakia getting a shot at bronze in 2010. Oh, wait, that happened.

Sidney Crosby (Canada)

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    Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    Odds: 15-1

     

    Why you should bet on him

    Despite his struggles in the group stage, he's still the world's best hockey player. Sidney Crosby did have two points in the first three games but no goals. That likely won't be a trend that continues. He has a history of contributing when games matter most. 

     

    Why you should save your money

    If Canada does any real damage the rest of the way, the spectacular four-goal performance by teammate Drew Doughty in the preliminaries might have locked him up as his country's best option for MVP honors.

James van Riemsdyk (United States)

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    Martin Rose/Getty Images

    Odds: 12-1

     

    Why you should bet on him

    James van Riemsdyk is one-third of the hottest line in the tournament through the group stage. He has four assists so far but will add to that count in the quarterfinal playing alongside front-runner Phil Kessel and Joe Pavelski.

     

    Why you should save your money

    Voters might see him as just a wingman—Goose to the U.S. team's Maverick. If Kessel keeps up his current play, he'll be the American team's clear choice.

Alex Ovechkin (Russia)

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    Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

    Odds: 12-1

     

    Why you should bet on him

    The Russians didn't have the greatest start to their tournament, but it might be just the wake-up call they needed to get on track for the elimination games and live up to the expectations of a medal. Alex Ovechkin has a goal and an assist through the first three contests and will be motivated to show he can be the dominant leader Russia needs to please the crowds. 

     

    Why you should save your money

    It will be a tough road to the final for the Russians, and Ovechkin might be too selfish a player to be the difference-maker the hosts need.

Henrik Lundqvist (Sweden)

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    Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

    Odds: 10-1 

     

    Why you should bet on him

    A .936 save percentage in the group stage and a 1.67 goals-against average—those numbers are a good starting point. And despite the injury troubles Sweden has had, it still has a solid roster in front of Henrik Lundqvist that keeps it in contention for a medal. 

     

    Why you should save your money

    One misstep means the end of the tournament, and as good as Sweden and Lundqvist have been so far, the competition is going to get a lot more difficult moving forward. The Czechs, Latvians and Swiss didn't provide much of a test.

T.J. Oshie (United States)

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    Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

    Odds: 10-1

     

    Why you should bet on him

    Oshie was the star of the group stage's premier battle between the U.S. and Russia, scoring four times in the shootout to earn the critical victory that helped his team take the second seed for the quarterfinal matchups. That aside, he has a goal and three assists in regulation.

     

    Why you should save your money

    Oshie may never get the opportunity to show his stuff in a shootout like that again, and without another big performance, he could be too under-the-radar for MVP votes.

Pavel Datsyuk (Russia)

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    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    Odds: 10-1

     

    Why you should bet on him

    Pavel Datsyuk scored two goals in the biggest game of his tournament so far, helping the Russians get to overtime against the Americans. Russia's captain has been the team's most consistently dangerous player up to now and should be the driving force the rest of the way. With the Russians having to play an extra game, he has more time to pad his stats and win voters, too.

     

    Why you should save your money

    He's not 100 percent healthy, and everyone knows it. It makes his performance so far impressive, but it also makes him a risk going forward.

Erik Karlsson (Sweden)

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    Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

    Odds: 8-1

     

    Why you should bet on him

    Karlsson started with a two-goal performance and was easily Sweden's most dynamic player in the group stage, helping his team earn the top seed despite losing Henrik Zetterberg after the first game. With five points, he finds himself tied for third in tournament scoring after the preliminary round.

    The smooth-skating defenseman is a great story, overcoming that scary Achilles injury and showing he's capable of controlling games. 

     

    Why you should save your money

    If a defenseman is going to be named the tournament's MVP, it'd be tough to pick between Karlsson and Canada's Drew Doughty.

Drew Doughty (Canada)

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    Julio Cortez/Associated Press

    Odds: 7-1

     

    Why you should bet on him

    He had four goals through the group stage, as many as the United States' Phil Kessel and just one fewer than Austria's Michael Grabner. Team Canada's defensemen are as active as any in the tournament, and Doughty has been the team's best player—period—never mind just its best on the back end.
     

    Why you should save your money

    Canada has a tough road to defend its gold, with the upstart Swiss team standing in its way of a semifinal matchup with the U.S. If its tournament ends early, there's no way a Canuck is named MVP.

Phil Kessel (United States)

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    Petr David Josek/Associated Press

    Odds: 5-1

     

    Why you should bet on him

    He's having a killer year in the NHL and has carried that momentum over to Sochi. With four goals and seven points through the first three games, Kessel is the tournament's leading scorer through the group stage.

     

    Why you should save your money

    The U.S. will likely battle Canada in the semifinal—barring an earlier upset—and some don't believe it can come out on top of that matchup.