The NHL season is nearly a quarter of the way complete. So what better time to hand out some awards? We’re going to keep these simple though, focusing on each club’s Most Valuable Player up to this point. In some cases, the choice is obvious. But, in others, the emergence of someone new — or the absence of someone a team typically relies on — speaks volumes about where an organization stands right now.
Anaheim – Rickard Rakell. On a team beset by injuries, he’s the only guy with more than five goals.
Arizona – Clayton Keller. Well, let’s see. .. he leads the entire Western Conference in goals (11) and he’s only 19 years old. And until the Coyotes gain more experience up-and-down the roster, opponents are able to really focus their defensive efforts squarely on his line.
Boston – David Pastrnak. This could always be Patrice Bergeron, but we’ll go with Pastrnak because he’s played more games and is doing exactly what they just paid him to do: be dynamic and put up a lot of points (10 goals, 7 assists in 16 games).
Buffalo – Evander Kane. On pace for 43 goals. He won’t get that, but his career high of 30 could be within reach.
Calgary – Johnny Gaudreau. Not a lot of Flames are scoring. Gaudreau (22 points in 16 games) is the exception.
Carolina – Jordan Staal. Gets it done on both ends of the ice and wins faceoffs (54.2 percent). Plus his nine points are somehow good for third on the team.
Chicago – Corey Crawford. He’d win the Vezina right now (.942 save percentage, 1.87 goals against average), and the defense in front of him really hasn’t been that helpful.
Colorado – Matt Duchene. Put up a respectable 10 points in 14 games, then somehow netted the Avs four prospects and three picks in a trade.
Columbus – Sergei Bobrovsky. Playing behind a pretty solid blue line, but the reigning Vezina winner is doing his part, too.
Dallas – Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn. They do everything else together — why not be co-MVPs?
Detroit – Mike Green. His 13 assists are tied for third among all NHL defenders — and 13th among all skaters. On top of that, he could end up being a valuable trade chip at the deadline, if the Wings end up as sellers.
Edmonton – Connor McDavid. There are really only two options on the roster right now, and McDavid has literally factored into more than half of the Oilers offense (19 total points, while Edmonton has mustered just 37 goals).
Florida – Vincent Trocheck. Leading the Panthers with nine goals, while logging more than 21:00 of ice time per game at the always important center position.
Los Angeles – Jonathan Quick. Reminding everyone how dangerous the Kings can be when he’s healthy and on his game.
Minnesota – Jason Zucker. The Wild have six goals in their last three games. And Zucker literally has all six of them.
Montreal – Max Pacioretty. Tied for the team lead in points (12), plus he has three game-winners in the last five outings to pull the Canadiens out of their October slump.
Nashville – Pekka Rinne. Only two regulation losses for the 35-year old netminder, who’s off to a pretty sharp start across the board statistically.
New Jersey – Taylor Hall. I mean, he’s no Adam Larsson. But the Devils will just have to settle for his blazing speed and 1.12 points per game production.
NY Islanders – John Tavares. You know, maybe the Islanders should look into signing him long term.
NY Rangers – Kevin Shattenkirk. Doing a lot more for the Rangers (nine power-play points to lead all NHL d-men) than he did for the Capitals after the deadline last season.
Ottawa – Erik Karlsson. It’s just always Karlsson, isn’t it? Sure, Mark Stone has 12 goals but, you know, Karlsson.
Philadelphia – Sean Couturier. Wayne Simmonds is quietly getting it done again, with four game-winners. And both Jakub Voracek (21) and Claude Giroux (20) have already broken the 20-point barrier. But Couturier has 10 goals and 19 points while providing solid defense as a two-way forward.
Pittsburgh – Phil Kessel. The Penguins don’t score 5-on-5 anymore, and he’s second in the NHL with 11 power play points.
St. Louis – Jaden Schwartz. That whole top line has been unreal. But Schwartz leads the way with nine goals and 22 points. Alex Pietrangelo is an early Norris favorite too though, so there’s that. Basically, it’s good to be the Blues at the moment.
San Jose – Logan Couture. Only one player in the West has more goals than Couture’s 10.
Tampa Bay – Nikita Kucherov. He’d win the Hart Trophy right now and it wouldn’t even really be close.
Toronto – Auston Matthews. He changes everything when he’s on the ice.
Vancouver – Brock Boeser. Leading a much-needed youth movement in Vancouver. And leading the Canucks in points, too.
Vegas – James Neal. Everyone’s pulling their weight, but he got them going with game-winning goals in each of the franchise’s first three contests.
Washington – Alex Ovechkin. Seven goals in the first two games kind of helped.
Winnipeg – Connor Hellebuyck. And that’s saying something, because Mark Scheifele is having another monster year. Blake Wheeler too. But the Jets desperately needed someone to step up in net.