NHL Power Rankings: Sidney Crosby And the Top 15 MVP Candidates
The Hart Memorial Trophy.
It's title begs a multitude of cheesy titles such as "Have a Hart", "Where's Your Hart", or even "Hart Attack." Fortunately, I decided not to go with any of these.
The Hart Trophy is awarded to the most valuable player in the National Hockey League. It's currently held by Vancouver Canuck Henrik Sedin, and there is a possibility he could return to the throne this season.
The usual suspects for nominees haven't been performing at their highest levels, which makes the race for the Hart Trophy even more tough and exciting.
Here are the top 15 candidates for most valuable player.
15. Logan Couture: San Jose Sharks
Logan Couture is obviously the longshot of this group, but how great of a story would it be if he won?
Couture has probably been the most valuable player for the San Jose Sharks this season. He currently leads the team in goals with 25 and is fifth in points with 43.
Couture's chances at winning this award are very slim, but you never know; he could always pick it up and become very hot before the end of the season.
14. Dustin Byfuglien: Atlanta Thrashers
Dustin Byfuglien looked like a surefire Norris Trophy winner 20 games into the season. However, a very lengthy recent point drought has hindered his resume.
However, his overall performance has still been quite strong. In a move that confused the masses, Byfuglien was moved back to defence after having a very successful playoff on forward.
Surprisingly, Byfuglien completely exceeded expectations.
In 61 games, he has scored 18 goals and registered 27 assists for 45 points. He has also tallied 259 shots, third most in the league.
13. Carey Price: Montreal Canadiens
You're all familiar with the drama of the Jaroslav Halak trade. Montreal fans didn't react too nicely to their playoff hero being traded and leaving the team with just Carey Price to play goaltender.
Silly Habs fans.
Especially considering the pressure he faced entering the season, Price has been great so far. Despite losing 21 times, he has posted 28 wins, a 2.14 goals against average and a .919 save percentage.
His performance has prompted Canadiens fans to calm down... or "chill out", rather.
12. Keith Yandle: Phoenix Coyotes
Where on earth did Keith Yandle come from?
The fourth-year defenceman currently leads all blueliners in assists and points, with 43 and 52 respectively. His previous highest point total came last year, when he recorded 41 points in 82 games. This season, he's on pace to eclipse that amount greatly with a total of 67 points.
Yandle was chosen to participate in the All-Star game this season, an appearance that may become commonplace in the years to come. He looks like the real deal for the Phoenix Coyotes.
11. Roberto Luongo: Vancouver Canucks
Lost in the extreme excitement in Vancouver is one Roberto Luongo.
The team has 85 points, two players with 70 points and two 30-goal scorers. Goaltending is often a factor that is forgotten about when things are this exciting.
Luongo has been steady for the Canucks. He owns a record of 21-11-7, as well as a .924 save percentage and a 2.27 goals against average.
For awhile, it looked as though back-up goalie Cory Schneider might take the throne from Luongo. They have nearly identical stats and if you extrapolated Schneider's record to 46 games to match Luongo, you'd see they are fairly similar as well.
However, Luongo's steady play and experience allowed him to keep his role as starter, and he has done a great job of it so far this year.
10. Alexander Ovechkin: Washington Capitals
What's wrong with Alex Ovechkin?
Well, there isn't necessarily anything wrong with him, as he has posted 62 points in 61 games. However, the 32 goals he is on pace for is a far cry from his previous totals of 52, 46, 65, 56 and 50.
In addition, he is on pace for just 83 points, which would be his lowest career NHL point total and just the second time he's notched less than 100 points.
It's not to say he's playing badly, because he's not. He's playing like a good NHL player.
The problem is that he is not a good NHL player; he's a great one. And for that reason, Alexander Ovechkin needs to start playing like Alexander Ovechkin if he wants to be truly considered for the Hart Trophy.
9. Corey Perry: Anaheim Ducks
When Ryan Getzlaf went down with an injury, Corey Perry was given the opportunity to become the Anaheim Ducks' top player. Thus far, he has taken that opportunity and run with it.
His 67 points rank fifth in the league, while his 31 markers sit at the same spot in the goals category. His 90 penalty minutes help to make him a dream for fantasy hockey players.
Perry can be considered a dark horse in the race for the Hart Trophy.
8. Martin St. Louis: Tampa Bay Lightning
Which is more important: the goal, or the assist?
If the latter is the more key aspect of hockey, than Martin St. Louis should absolutely be in contention for the Hart Trophy.
His 50 assists is ranked second to only Henrik Sedin of the Canucks. St. Louis has also notched 22 goals.
St. Louis is the set-up man for the big scorer on the Tampa Bay Lightning: Steven Stamkos. I wonder if he'll appear on this list anywhere...
7. Nicklas Lidstrom: Detroit Red Wings
Nick Lidstrom will be turning 104 on his next birthday.
Of course, that's not a serious remark, but that's how it seems. The guy keeps getting older, but he hasn't even come close to losing his touch yet.
Lidstrom continues to lead the Red Wings and will be a key presence in the playoffs. So far, Lidstrom has posted 12 goals and 36 assists for 48 points. His point total ranks second among all NHL blueliners.
It will be interesting to see if Lidstrom retires after this season, as his contract is up. I'm leaning towards "no"...
6. Ryan Kesler: Vancouver Canucks
Ryan Kesler seems to be enjoying a breakout season... again.
The difference this time is, he has broken out as a different player. It's not a breakout season by definition, but Kesler is on pace for 44 goals and 32 assists, quite contrary to his totals of 25 goals and 50 assists from last year. Thus, he has broken out this season as a different player.
His goal total of 33 has set him in second place in the NHL, behind only Steven Stamkos. His plus-minus of plus-23 is also impressive, as it falls in at fifth in the league.
Furthermore, his 56.4 faceoff percentage is good enough for 12th among NHL players.
Kesler has been a key part of the Canucks this season and is a large reason why they're doing so well.
5. Henrik Sedin: Vancouver Canucks
Sedin number one. You can bet that you'll be seeing the other Sedin on this list as well.
While it's nearly impossible to tell them apart by looks, Henrik and his twin brother Daniel play two completely different styles of hockey. Their two games fit together more perfectly than two pieces of a puzzle.
Henrik has notched 15 goals and 53 assists thus far, giving him a total of 73 points, which only two other players have bested so far. His plus-21 isn't anything to sneeze at either.
Henrik won the Hart Trophy last season.
4. Sidney Crosby: Pittsburgh Penguins
It's been a weird year for hockey.
For the first time in awhile, neither Sidney Crosby nor Alexander Ovechkin is the most dominant player in the NHL.
Ovechkin is another story, but Crosby has been sidelined with a concussion that began at the Winter Classic.
Prior to his concussion, Crosby has posted 66 points in 41 games, operating at an incredible pace of 1.61 points per game. His 32 goals still sits at third in the league, despite missing 21 games thus far.
Had he not been injured, Crosby would have easily taken this award. Heck, if he could come back tomorrow he'd probably still win it. However, the likeliness of him winning decreases with every missed game that passes.
3. Daniel Sedin: Vancouver Canucks
You had to know you'd see him here... and that's not just because I mentioned it in a previous slide.
Daniel has been a force this season. With his brother on his line, the two are nearly unstoppable.
His 32 goals are second best in the NHL, while his 78 points is a total that no other player has hit yet.
2. Tim Thomas: Boston Bruins
What a story.
After Tuukka Rask stole the starting job from him last season, Tim Thomas has returned this year and completely stolen the show.
In 41 games so far, Thomas has won 27 times and lost eight times with six overtime losses. Both his goals against average and save percentage lead the league at 1.99 and .938 respectively. It's phenomenal, really.
So far he's won the starting job, the hearts of Bruins fans and NHL fans alike, and now he is directing his attention to winning something bigger: the Stanley Cup.
But of course, a Hart Memorial Trophy wouldn't be bad either, and the odds of him taking the honour home are looking better as the year progresses.
1. Steven Stamkos: Tampa Bay Lightning
I think it's officially safe to mention Mr. Steven Stamkos in the same sentence as players such as Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin.
Stamkos has lit up the NHL this season. His 41 goals lead the NHL by a pretty big margin. The player closest to his total is Ryan Kesler, who has just 33 tallies.
"Stammer" has also notched 36 assists to total 77 points, good enough for second in the NHL.