Ovi is ready for a rebound this season, after an 85 point "off year"

Top Ten Tuesday - Early MVP Candidates

Every year there is a new crop of talented players that rise to the fore, and also a number of constant contenders for the Hart Trophy as League MVP.  Today, I discuss my top 10 candidates for the honor that will not be handed out until  over 1200 games have been played!

 

You gotta have Hart!

Mike Richards

 

 

10. Mike Richards – The newest LA King has the chance to make an immediate impact on a team that is starving for a true top end talent up front who can take a game over in many different ways (with all due respect to Anze Kopitar).

 

B Richards styling for the Big Apple

 

 

9. Brad Richards – The Rangers won the bidding war for the veteran who has a Conn Smythe trophy to his name, and is finally playing in a true hockey market and will get the media exposure required to put him in the forefront of the discussion for this honour.

 

Gentlemanly can be good too, as Pavel annually demonstrates

 

8. Pavel Datsyuk – Many of his peers consider him the best all around player in the game, and his reputation is great.  It might be time for Pavel to graduate from the Lady Byng to the Hart trophy.

 

 

The Price is right in Habs land

 

 

7. Carey Price – Tim Thomas might have had better numbers last season but no goalie means more to his team than Price.  He tied for the league lead in wins last season on a team ravaged with injuries on its blue line.  I am not a fan of goalies winning MVP, but there is a precedent with Hasek and Theodore as past winners.

 

Has anyone so good ever been so maligned?

 

 

6. Joe Thornton – With a reshuffled line, Thornton could have Marleau and Pavelski on his wings this season, and with Logan Couture providing support and some attention grabbing from opposing D, this could be Thornton’s best season (now that he has rid himself of the burden of Heatley).

 

Pure and simple, Toews is a winner

 

 

5. Jonathan Toews – There isn’t anything Toews cannot do.  He is the heart and soul of the Hawks and they will only go as far as the captain takes them.  He has won almost everything there is to win, so a Hart would be the next logical step.

Giroux could be this year's breakout player - to go from star to superstar

 

 

 

4. Claude Giroux – I don’t think people realize just how good he is, but they will find out now that Mike Richards and Jeff Carter are gone.  Giroux will be counted on to provide much of the Flyers offense as they transition to a younger squad.

Like Toews, all Perry does is win

 

 

 

3. Corey Perry – The reigning MVP had a season for the ages last year, and there is no reason he can’t repeat.  It is a tough trophy to repeat as a winner, but Perry has the all-around game and the supporting cast to do so.

Stamkos entrenched himself among the elite last season

 

 

2. Steven Stamkos – The first overall pick in 2008 has wasted no time in surging to the top of the list when it comes to MVP talk.  The finalist for the Ted Lindsay award last season is only getting better, and his exposure as the face of the NHL 2011 video game can’t hurt his publicity.

 

 

1. Alex Ovechkin – The “Russian Machine” is coming out of an “off” season (only 32 goals and 85 points) and you can bet that he is out to prove that it was the exception rather than the rule.  Ovechkin has eclipsed 100 points in 4 of his 6 seasons and has already won the Hart trophy on 2 occasions (2008 and 2009).  With a revamped roster around him and a first class centre (also coming off a disappointing season), Ovi is ready to rock and is my favorite for MVP this season.

 

One thing you will notice is the abundance of forwards.  Since Bobby Orr won his final Hart Trophy in 1972, only 1 defenseman has won the MVP award (Chris Pronger in 2000).  There are many good defensemen in the NHL, but if Nick Lidstrom didn’t win the award in his prime, then I don’t know what it will take for a blueliner to win.

Omitted from the list is Sidney Crosby, due mainly to the uncertainty of when he will return.  If he can be 100% for 60-65 games, he has the ability to put himself in the conversation.  He would have been a near unanimous winner at the midway point last year, before the concussion problems wiped out a career season.

 

What are your thoughts?  Are any Senators that should be in the conversation?  Perhaps if Spezza continues his late season run or Alfie gets back to the 80 point level?

 

**Don’t forget to get your Tickets for SenShot’s Alfie Night in Ottawa on November 11th, 2011. Early Bird tickets are still available for a limited time.  Click here for more details**

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