Every NHL Team's Most Valuable Player Midway Through the 2014-15 Season
It's the halfway point of the NHL season, so it's time for Bleacher Report to hand out its midseason hardware to each team's most valuable player.
(Note: There is no hardware to hand out. Instead, we will just list one player per slide and talk about why they are the MVP).
With some teams, it's easy to pick the winner. Has anyone been more valuable to their team's success than Pekka Rinne of the Predators? Maybe Mark Giordano of the Flames? Or Tyler Seguin of the Stars?
But with other teams, it's a more difficult choice. Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin? Braden Holtby or Alex Ovechkin? Cory Schneider or...or...
...boy, the Devils aren't very good.
So click through, see one man's picks for each team's MVP and be sure to mention how you agree with everything in the comments.
Anaheim Ducks: Ryan Getzlaf, C
2014-15 statistics: 42 games, 13 goals, 45 points
Why he wins: Ryan Getzlaf has carried things more than usual for the Ducks, who have had key players stricken with mumps during the season. The Ducks captain has been great in all three phases while playing nearly 21 minutes per night. He is on pace for the second 90-point season of his career.
Also worthy: Sami Vatanen, Frederik Andersen
Arizona Coyotes: Antoine Vermette, C
2014-15 statistics: 42 games, 10 goals, 28 points
Why he wins: It's been a rough season for the rebranded Coyotes, but Antoine Vermette has been a steady presence down the middle for Arizona. Vermette's numbers aren't eye-popping, but on a team devoid of offense, he's been the best.
Also worthy: Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Devan Dubnyk
Boston Bruins: Dougie Hamilton, D
2014-15 statistics: 44 games, 7 goals, 23 points
Why he wins: With Zdeno Chara out 19 games with a knee injury, Dougie Hamilton filled the role very well and kept the Bruins near a playoff spot. Hamilton is tied for fourth in scoring and is averaging around 22 minutes per game, a career high. With Chara back, Hamilton's value will be diminished during the second half, but no one meant more to the injury-riddled Bruins in the first half than Hamilton.
Also worthy: Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand
Buffalo Sabres: Zemgus Girgensons, C
2014-15 statistics: 44 games, 11 goals, 20 points
Why he wins: The Latvian Laser™ was the All-Star vote leader and also the leader in a few categories for the Sabres. Zemgus Girgensons is tops in goals (11), even-strength points (19) and ice time among forwards (18:57). It's a wasteland in Buffalo, but Girgensons is the nourishing oasis for downtrodden Sabres fans.
Also worthy: Tyler Myers, Jhonas Enroth
Calgary Flames: Mark Giordano, D
2014-15 statistics: 43 games, 10 goals, 36 points
Why he wins: Mark Giordano is the No. 1 reason the Flames are clinging to hopes of a playoff spot at the midway point of the season. He is the team's second-leading scorer and averages about 25 minutes per game alongside regular defense partner T.J. Brodie. A case could made that Giordano was the league MVP through 20 games when the Flames couldn't lose.
Also worthy: T.J. Brodie, Jiri Hudler
Carolina Hurricanes: Justin Faulk, D
2014-15 statistics: 43 games, 7 goals, 24 points
Why he wins: It's been a hellish season in Raleigh for the Hurricanes, as injuries and poor play have conspired to keep the team near the bottom of the standings. Justin Faulk has done his job on the back end very well, as he is second on the team in scoring while averaging more than 24 minutes per game. As bad as it's been without Jordan Staal and many others, things would be way worse without Faulk.
Also worthy: Eric Staal, Cam Ward
Chicago Blackhawks: Patrick Kane, RW
2014-15 statistics: 43 games, 20 goals, 47 points
Why he wins: Patrick Kane has spent years without a true center, and although the addition of Brad Richards didn't go so swimmingly at the start, it's part of the reason Kane is on pace for a career-best 90 points. Kane doesn't have the same grit/toughness/reputation as a leader as Jonathan Toews, but the fact he leads all Blackhawks forwards in ice time (19:55) speaks to how far he's come as a two-way player.
Also worthy: Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith
Colorado Avalanche: Semyon Varlamov, G
2014-15 statistics: 10-9-5, 2.74 GAA, .921 save percentage
Why he wins: The Avalanche are again a disaster defensively, and again, it's fallen on Semyon Varlamov to keep the team from drowning. At 34.2 shots per game, only Buffalo is allowing more rubber to hit the net than Colorado. Varlamov isn't having a repeat of his 2013-14 season (41 wins, .927), but he's been good enough to keep the Avs close to a playoff spot.
Also worthy: Erik Johnson, Matt Duchene
Columbus Blue Jackets: Ryan Johansen, C
2014-15 statistics: 40 games, 15 goals, 39 points
Why he wins: Ryan Johansen has proved you don't need a training camp to be dominant, which probably makes him the MVP of anyone negotiating a new contract next season. But the fourth-year player has helped the Blue Jackets hang around despite a seemingly endless string of injuries to key players.
Also worthy: Nick Foligno, Sergei Bobrovsky
Dallas Stars: Tyler Seguin, C
2014-15 statistics: 42 games, 26 goals, 48 points
Why he wins: Tyler Seguin will have a case for league MVP if the Stars continue to win despite a lack of defense and goaltending. Like any elite scorer, Seguin does damage on the power play, but he leads the league in even-strength goals with 20. There's not much more he can do to get the Stars back in the playoffs.
Also worthy: Jamie Benn, Alex Goligoski
Detroit Red Wings: Henrik Zetterberg
2014-15 statistics: 43 games, 10 goals, 36 points
Why he wins: Henrik Zetterberg leads the team in scoring despite having one of the worst shooting seasons (7.3 percent) of his career. Coming off a back injury that cost him half of last season and part of the Olympics, Zetterberg looks like his old (young) self again.
Also worthy: Jimmy Howard, Pavel Datsyuk
Edmonton Oilers: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C
2014-15 statistics: 42 games, 11 goals, 25 points
Why he wins: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is quietly emerging as one of the game's best centers, and it's easy to miss since he plays for one of the game's worst teams. At 21:15 per game, Nugent-Hopkins leads all forwards in ice time, which speaks to both his value to the team and the dearth of centers behind him. His point totals don't suggest budding stardom, but consider his surroundings.
Also worthy: Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle
Florida Panthers: Roberto Luongo, G
2014-15 statistics: 17-8-7, 2.32 GAA, .924 save percentage
Why he wins: Roberto Luongo is a deserving All-Star selection this season, as he's kept the rising Panthers near a playoff position in the East. There's about a 35-point difference in save percentage between Luongo and backup Al Montoya, which says the Panthers are hardly a team with a system that benefits goaltenders.
Also worthy: Aaron Ekblad, Nick Bjugstad
Los Angeles Kings: Drew Doughty, D
2014-15 statistics: 43 games, 4 goals, 27 points
Why he wins: Drew Doughty looks like he's finally got a shot at his first Norris Trophy, as he is second in the league in ice time (29:19 per game) and is among the best in Fenwick (56.0 percent) despite the heavy workload and elite competition. It's been a struggle defensively during the first half for the Kings, but Doughty has had nothing to do with that.
Also worthy: Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter
Minnesota Wild: Zach Parise, LW
2014-15 statistics: 35 games, 14 goals, 30 points
Why he wins: In a season marred by team inconsistency, Zach Parise has been one of the few consistent players on the Wild. He's among the team leaders in Fenwick (55.7) and is second on the team in scoring, although he missed five games with a concussion and two more after the death of his father, J.P. Parise. If the Wild get it turned around in the second half, goaltending will have to improve, but Parise will be at the forefront.
Also worthy: Jason Pominville, Ryan Suter
Montreal Canadiens: Carey Price, G
2014-15 statistics: 22-10-2, 2.19 GAA, .928 save percentage
Why he wins: The Canadiens have been mostly average at puck possession this season but have benefited by having arguably the game's best goaltender (Pekka Rinne is allowed to argue) holding the fort. The Canadiens are 23rd in shots allowed per game (30.5) but near the top of the standings mostly because of Price.
Also worthy: Max Pacioretty, P.K. Subban
Nashville Predators: Pekka Rinne, G
2014-15 statistics: 29-6-2, 1.96 GAA, .932 save percentage
Why he wins: Pekka Rinne is probably the league MVP at this point, depending on your feelings about whether a goaltender can win the Hart Trophy (he can). The city of Nashville had to take a big nervous gulp after Rinne exited Tuesday's game with an injury, as the Preds can't afford to go very long without their best player.
Also worthy: Shea Weber, Filip Forsberg
New Jersey Devils: Cory Schneider, G
2014-15 statistics: 14-19-4, 2.40 GAA, .919 save percentage
Why he wins: Have you watched the Devils? They are a bad team, and the only reason why they're not fighting with the Oilers or Sabres for last place in the league is because Cory Schneider has been great under terrible circumstances. Jettisoned coach Peter DeBoer overused Schneider early, but he's been able to maintain a solid save percentage in a league-leading 38 starts.
Also worthy: Jaromir Jagr, Adam Henrique
New York Islanders: John Tavares, C
2014-15 statistics: 43 games, 19 goals, 39 points
Why he wins: Sure, the Islanders made themselves deeper and better with their offseason moves, but John Tavares is still the foundation of the team. He leads all forwards on the club in goals, power-play points and ice time (20:23), which isn't far that behind team leader Johnny Boychuk (21:56). When the playoffs roll around, Tavares will have the biggest say in the Islanders' fortunes.
Also worthy: Kyle Okposo, Johnny Boychuk
New York Rangers: Rick Nash, RW
2014-15 statistics: 40 games, 26 goals, 41 points
Why he wins: If the season ended today, Rick Nash would probably be making plans to go to Las Vegas for the NHL Awards as a Hart Trophy finalist. While the Rangers scuffled early while dealing with injuries, his goal-scoring aptitude kept them hovering around .500. Now that the Rangers are healthy, he's helping them surge toward the top of the standings.
Also worthy: Derek Stepan, Ryan McDonagh
Ottawa Senators: Craig Anderson, G
2014-15 statistics: 11-10-6, 2.35 GAA, .928 save percentage
Why he wins: Craig Anderson has helped the Senators maintain a level of respectability despite being outshot badly on most nights. Some thought backup Robin Lehner would push him for playing time this season, but Anderson has been one of the best in the league despite playing behind an unenviable defense group.
Also worthy: Erik Karlsson, Bobby Ryan
Philadelphia Flyers: Jakub Voracek, RW
2014-15 statistics: 43 games, 17 goals, 52 points
Why he wins: Jakub Voracek has been a scoring machine on a team that needs a plethora of goals because of its leaky defense. The league leader in points benefits from playing with Claude Giroux, but it's a mutually beneficial relationship that may help Giroux more than it helps Voracek. After losing 10 pounds in the offseason, Voracek has become a dominant winger.
Also worthy: Claude Giroux, Steve Mason
Pittsburgh Penguins: Evgeni Malkin, C
2014-15 statistics: 42 games, 19 goals, 49 points
Why he wins: It's either Evgeni Malkin or Sidney Crosby, but Malkin has been an unstoppable force far more often than Crosby this season. Both Malkin and Crosby have pulled more than their weight in the face of so many injuries to forwards, but Malkin has meant a little more to the Penguins in the first half of the season.
Also worthy: Sidney Crosby, Marc-Andre Fleury
San Jose Sharks: Joe Pavelski, C/RW
2014-15 statistics: 44 games, 22 goals, 38 points
Why he wins: It's a tossup between Joe Pavelski and three other players, but the 30-year-old wins this prestigious honor based on his 22 goals, which are seven more than the next-closest teammate. Pavelski also plays nearly 20 minutes per game, most among Sharks forwards.
Also worthy: Joe Thornton, Marc-Edouard Vlasic
St. Louis Blues: Vladimir Tarasenko, RW
2014-15 statistics: 43 games, 24 goals, 46 points
Why he wins: For years, the Blues have lacked a game-changing offensive player. They finally have one in Vladimir Tarasenko, who was a one-man wrecking crew during the first quarter of the season and has continued to produce of late. The Blues have always had elite defensemen, but now they have an elite finisher who could make a difference in the postseason.
Also worthy: Alexander Steen, Kevin Shattenkirk
Tampa Bay Lightning: Steven Stamkos, C
2014-15 statistics: 45 games, 25 goals, 43 points
Why he wins: Teammate Tyler Johnson has more points, but Steven Stamkos is the reason why the team's second-line center can flourish. Stamkos draws the attention and tougher matchups and still puts up big numbers. The support is important, but Stamkos is the bigger factor in Tampa.
Also worthy: Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov
Toronto Maple Leafs: Jonathan Bernier, G
2014-15 statistics: 16-11-3, 2.67 GAA, .917 save percentage
Why he wins: When you're allowing the second-most shots in the league, your goaltender must be your best player, and Jonathan Bernier has been just that yet again for the Leafs. It was only a week ago that Leafs were in a playoff spot, and the only reason they're still within spitting distance is because of Bernier.
Also worthy: Phil Kessel, Cody Franson
Vancouver Canucks: Daniel and Henrik Sedin
2014-15 statistics: Henrik Sedin (41 games, 8 goals, 35 points); Daniel Sedin (41 games, 9 goals, 36 points)
Why he (they) wins (win): Not only is it impossible to tell Daniel and Henrik apart physically, but they are nearly identical statistically, so it seems unfair to pick one over the other. Heck, Henrik has played 19:03 per game this season; Daniel has played 19:01. They remain the biggest factors in whether the Canucks win or lose.
Also worthy: Radim Vrbata, Ryan Miller
Washington Capitals: Braden Holtby, G
2014-15 statistics: 21-8-7, 2.23 GAA, .923 save percentage
Why he wins: It's not a coincidence that the Capitals began their springboard up the standings when Braden Holtby regained his form in early December. The Capitals have star power at forward and John Carlson has been sensational on defense, but it's apparent that as Holtby goes, so does the team.
Also worthy: Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom
Winnipeg Jets: Michael Hutchinson, G
2014-15 statistics: 12-4-2, 2.00 GAA, .931 save percentage
Why he wins: Yes, the backup goaltender for the Jets has been the biggest key for their success. Michael Hutchinson has made 10 fewer starts than Ondrej Pavelec, but that gap is likely to shrink over the second half as the rookie continues to shine. Pavelec is down to his customary .909, making it all the more likely Hutchinson will see more action.
Also worthy: Dustin Byfuglien, Jacob Trouba