Wednesday, March 22, 2006

If the season ended today,
who would be NHL MVP?

My old pal Eric Mc over at Off Wing Opinion has been running the poll seen above (which is, I think, operational on this site) for a week or so now. After 250-plus votes, Mr. Jaromir Jagr is well in the lead.

I'll admit it'll be a tight vote, but mine at this point is cast for Calgary Flames netminder Miikka Kiprusoff, who, with Dominik Hasek injured, will likely run away with this year's Vezina Trophy (with a nod to rookie Henrik Lundqvist). (When I say Kiprusoff will run away with it, keep in mind that the only teams that have scored fewer goals than the Flames this season are Chicago and Columbus. If that's not valuable, I haven't a clue what is.)

Nearly on par with Kiprusoff and Jagr this year, however, is a guy who's not getting enough pub for the way he's played. (Until now of course.)

If, indeed, the Hart Trophy bidding is a three-horse race, the man pulling into third spot should be Red Wings defenceman Nicklas Lidstrom. (And if Joe Thornton wills the Sharks into the playoffs, he'll be there, too. Four horses. Neigh.)

Already a three-time Norris Trophy winner, it's about time Lidstrom gets mention as one of the best players in the game. Here's my case:
  • On pace for 86 points this season (discounting two missed games), Lidstrom's tied for 20th in NHL scoring. With 55 assists, he's tied for third-best in helpers. 86 points? That's the best total by a defenceman since Sergei Zubov had 89 in 1993-94 — 12 years ago.

  • That wouldn't be as impressive if Lidstrom was simply an assist-garnering demon, the puck-passing equivalent of the tennis-ball machine. No, far from it, as he's one of the best defensive players in the league and matches up against the opposition's top team every night. He also leads the league in average ice time, playing nearly 28 and a half minutes per game.

  • For some reason, defencemen get short shrift when it comes to the end-of-season awards, and the Hart is no exception. Prior to Chris Pronger's win in 1999-2000, the last blueliner to pick up hockey's MVP award was Bobby Orr in 1971-72. Surely there have been more defencemen worthy of consideration for the award — and this year, in fact, there is.
So, to members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association that frequent this site, that's my pitch. Now, file that away and go and vote for this man:

UPDATE The masses have spoken and Mr. McErlain has updated the poll to include all of our individual ravings.



At 8:07 a.m., March 22, 2006, Blogger Nick said...

Heatley instead of Alfredsson??

At 8:40 a.m., March 22, 2006, Anonymous Rachael said...

I agree with Nick, as a long time Sens fan, I never understood what it was about Alfie until this year. Just look at how poorly they played when he was injured, and how he turned it all around when he came back.

At 8:49 a.m., March 22, 2006, Blogger alyosha mcbain said...

Henrik Lundqvist deserves some serious consideration for MVP.....

At 9:21 a.m., March 22, 2006, Anonymous David Johnson said...

There is no way Heatley should be nominated over Alfredsson. The Heatley-Spezza duo have consistantly failed to perform when Alfredsson isn't with them. Bryan Murray has constantly tried to move Alfredsson to another line to split them up and create high scoring lines but every time he does he ends up moving Alfredsson back with Heatley and Spezza because it never works. Alfredsson is Ottawa's MVP, not Heatley.

With all that said I think the MVP should probably be a 4 horse race, not a 3 horse race. Jagr, Kipprusoff, Lidstrom and Staal. What Staal has done for Carolina was take a team not predicted to make the playoffs by most to competing with Ottawa for the conference title. He's 3rd in points and 5th in goals and has been the go to guy that Carolina has never had but always needed.

At 10:10 a.m., March 22, 2006, Anonymous Greg said...

Most valuable to his team? Andrei Markov for the Habs. In the games he's been out, they're something like 3-14. It's almost comical, when he's not in the lineup, the team can't win to save their playoff lives.

I'd still vote for Kipper though - without him, the Flames aren't in the playoffs, let alone leading the Northwest.

At 11:03 a.m., March 22, 2006, Blogger Jes Gőlbez said...

I know Vokoun isn't a nice Anglo name like Mirtle, but it's not that god damn hard to spell! (and it's not pronounced Vo-koon, either)

At 1:19 p.m., March 22, 2006, Blogger James Mirtle said...

(People, people — I didn't make the poll. Spelling and/or nomination concerns can be address to Mr. McErlain.)

As for Staal, well, I would argue that Rod Brind'Amour has been just as valuable to the Hurricanes this year. Martin Gerber has also had an outstanding year. I think Carolina's been able to win more with a 'by committee' approach than any other tea.

Does Staal deserve some votes? Sure. Does he have a chance to win? No.

At 1:37 p.m., March 22, 2006, Anonymous Eric said...

Don't say we don't listen, said poll has been updated. Go back and vote now!

At 1:48 p.m., March 22, 2006, Anonymous pj said...

I think Carolina's been able to win more with a 'by committee' approach than any other tea.

I agree. Darjeeling and Rooibos are both completely coasting on the efforts of a few star snipers.


At 1:54 p.m., March 22, 2006, Blogger James Mirtle said...

Har har... and I suppose Golbez wants to quibble with the spelling of Lidstrom's first name now, too.

At 2:49 p.m., March 22, 2006, Anonymous David Johnson said...

Brind'amour has had a good year and is an excellent leader but he isn't the teams MVP. The reason why Brind'amour has been able to put up better offensive numbers is because of Staal. Teams don't focus on Brind'amour anymore. Staal's emergence as a star player has allowed Brind'amour to fit into a role he is more suited for - an excellent second line center and team leader.

And Gerber has had a good year, but not an outstanding year. His goals against average is 2.68 which puts him 18th best in the league behind goalies named Bryzgalov, Budaj and Sandford. His save percentage is .911 good for just 12th in the league. He's been good and consistant, but not outstanding. In fact, Gerber's numbers aren't really any better than Kevin Weeke's numbers in 2003-04 (2.33gaa, .912 save %) though he has probably been more conistant in achieving those numbers.

Staal is the primary reason for Carolina's success this year.

At 10:44 p.m., March 22, 2006, Anonymous snafu said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you, James! Why Nicklas Lidstrom (he spells his 'nick' with a 'C') continues to be overlooked by hockey pundits- and others - is beyond me. Even in the Olympics, all the raving was about Sundin and Forsberg, great players in their own right... but a 3 time Norris winner, 3 time runner up to the Norris, on his way to the 4th Norris, three Stanley Cups, and the game winning gold medal goal and we get Sundin's mug all over the Canadian papers (well okay, Toronto mainly)...

Perhaps his quiet and humble demeanor contributed to this somewhat. Also he played under one of the greatest team captains of recent times, coached by one of hockey' greatest minds, and Nick gets overlooked. Here is a guy who will end up being ranked as one of the greatest defenseman to ever play the game, yet he does not merit a Hart? As you said, the time has come to recognize the value of defensemen to their teams too.

At 11:02 p.m., March 22, 2006, Anonymous Martin said...

Joe Thornton clearly belongs in this horse race. He's revived the Sharks and is close to pulling them into the playoffs - something that looked hopeless prior to his arrival in San Jose. Perhaps more than anyone else under consideration Thornton is "making other players better" - surely a key attribute for an MVP. My hunch is that he will be overlooked because he is in the odd position of having been traded 1/4 into the season, but that really shouldn't diminish his accomplishments.

At 1:50 p.m., March 25, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

if i recall correctly, bourque scored 91 points the year zubov got 89.


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