Top 10 NHL MVP Candidates In Early 2013-14
Top 10 NHL MVP Candidates In Early 2013
It is very early in the NHL season. There is no way to know most of what is going on. That being said, it is never too early to name early-season MVPs.
That is exactly what is going to happen here. Even with the season so young, there were so notable omissions. Some players who have done really well were left off for one reason or another.
The biggest problem with making a list like this is that one game can skew the numbers. A player can have the night of his life once and his numbers can look like he is one of the best in the league. Tyler Seguin and Tomas Hertl are the best examples. Hertl has especially gained serious notoriety since his masterful performance against the New York Rangers. Although he has been very good for the San Jose Sharks, he seems to be missing some qualities you look for in an MVP. Seguin had a four-point night when he faced the Winnepeg Jets on Friday. One game an MVP does not make.
The NHL has plenty of season left, but these 10 players have started it off on the right foot. They are on pace to lead their respective teams to do great things. Things can obviously always change, but this is as good of a start as any.
The criteria for picking these players was mostly contributions to a winning team. You will not see any New Jersey Devils or Buffalo Sabres on this list unfortunately. You will only see the best players on the best teams.
Nick Villano is the New Jersey Devils writer for Rant Sports. He also contributes to their NFL and MLB content. You can follow him on Twitter.
10. Jonathan Bernier
No. 10 may be a little low on the list for a guy who has held it together for a Toronto Maple Leafs team that is on top of the Atlantic Division. The problem for Jonathan Bernier is that there is a bunch of good goalies in the league this season. His .946 save percentage and 4-1 record are impossible to ignore, however. He is one of the reasons the Leafs are in the position they are. He already wrestled the starting job from James Reimer.
9. Sean Monahan
Although many around the NHL knew Sean Monahan the prospect, nobody expected such a fast start to his career. He has a point in every game he has played in his career and has scored a goal in his last four. He has been a huge surprise on a Flames team that everyone expected to be headed towards the bottom of the standings. Instead, they have yet to lose in regulation. Monahan's goal very late against all-time great Martin Brodeur was the icing on the early-season cake.
8. Joffrey Lupul
Joffrey Lupul is the other reason why the Maple Leafs are the best team in the Atlantic Division. What really hurts Lupul is that this Leafs team has been a team effort. They have played very well even without suspended forward David Clarkson. Lupul scored two goals in his latest game against Edmonton to push them to an overtime win. He is on pace for an extremely good season.
7. Tuukka Rask
I can admit when I am wrong. I said I wasn't sure how Tuukka Rask was going to bounce back from losing the Stanley Cup Finals in such a dramatic fashion. Boy was I wrong. He has allowed one goal in every single game. The only game he lost was to someone who is higher on this list. His .965 save percentage is insane. He has been the only reason the Boston Bruins are surviving this early season.
6. Alexander Steen
How do you measure clutch? Is it consistency? Is it only measure at the end of games? Is it only for the end of the season? No matter what you say, scoring the game-winning goal with 21.1 seconds left in it when you are taking on the defending champions is clutch in every single way. That is what Alexander Steen did last week. He has scored a goal in every single game so far this season. He has a total of eight points and is the reason why the St. Louis Blues are undefeated this season.
5. P.K. Subban
Measuring defensemen is one of the hardest thing to do in hockey. Statistics don't say much about their play. Plus/minus has a lot to do with other factors including teammates, whether you participate in the penalty kill/power play, etc. Some of the best defenders of all time did not score many points. P.K. Subban seems to pass all good tests for defensemen. He is carrying his Montreal Canadiens and leads the team in assists. He is also tied for first in the league in that stat. You want a perfect defenseman? Then look to Subban.
4. Steven Stamkos
He is always in the conversation for best scorers on the planet. His shot is impeccable. Steven Stamkos is everything the Tampa Bay Lightning could want in a forward. Now that they seem to have a decent backstop, this team can really rally around Stamkos and Martin St. Louis to do some real damage in the Eastern Conference.
3. Semyon Varlamov
It seems like the goalie-for-MVP argument goes the same way that the pitcher for MVP argument happens in baseball. Since the 1950-51 season, four goalies have won the Hart Memorial Trophy. There is no doubt in my mind that more than four times in over 60 years was a goalie the best player in the league. Since they have a goalie award, this tends to be a forward award. There is no doubt in my mind that Semyon Varlamov has been the best player in the league, but he would end up around here if the MVP voting took place today. Oh well, the Colorado Avalanche are still undefeated.
2. Brent Burns
This will be the most controversial ranking. Brent Burns has done so much for this San Jose Sharks team and is the most integral part of them being where they are. Joe Thornton assists all the goals, Hertl scores them, Antti Niemi stops them from going in -- Burns does all three. He can score with his pretty shot, can make a perfect pass to give you an easy goal, can lay a hit on someone and can dive to block a shot. He is Mr. Everything for the Sharks, and that is why he is ranked so high.
1. Sidney Crosby
Sorry, but who else could it be? He shows day in and day out that he is the best in the league. Even without his big game on Friday, he would still have five points in four games. That's just one question about the NHL's leading scorer: can he last the whole season? It has been four years since there was a full Sidney Crosby campaign. The league needs one, as much as their fans hate it.