by PuckStopsHere on 01/02/12 at 02:56 PM ET
One surprising thing this season is that it is January and there isn’t a clear choice for the current Hart Trophy leader. The scoring race gives us six players within three points of the scoring lead. Henrik Sedin currently leads the league but has only ten goals. Claude Giroux, Phil Kessel and Daniel Sedin are next. They are followed by Evgeni Malkin and goal scoring leader Steve Stamkos. On defence, the last MVP I selected in Shea Weber of Nashville is out with a concussion. I think he has been the top defenceman so far this season, but if he stays out he will likely soon be caught by Zdeno Chara and Nicklas Lidstrom. Tim Thomas is the top goalie this season followed by Henrik Lundqvist. This is a sizeable group of candidates and no one player has a significant lead.
At this point I pick Steve Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Stamkos is the NHL goal scoring leader with 26 goals. This is as sizeable a lead as any player has in any significant statistical category. He has his team lead in +/- with a +12. This is a significant lead where only six other players on his team have positive ratings and Martin St Louis at +4 is the next player who plays a regular shift against all levels of competition.
Stamkos is one of only three players on the Lightning with a double digit goal total. He is excelling on a team that is providing him little support. Stamkos is able to lead the league despite little support from his team. That makes him the current season MVP at this point.
I don’t think that Stamkos would be the likely winner among the sportswriters if a vote was taken right now. Usually players on non-playoff teams are not considered serious contenders. A player on a non-playoff team must be a runaway leader to be selected as Hart Trophy winner. It looks like Tampa Bay will miss the playoffs as they are currently in 12th place in the East Conference.
I argue that Steve Stamkos has been worth the most wins to his team. That is the best definition of MVP. Stamkos is the league leader in goals. He is close to the point leader. He is doing this on a team that is providing him with little support. Should things continue this way, I think Stamkos may be seen as a Hart Trophy contender but i doubt he would win because his team is not performing well.
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