Monday, February 04, 2008

Best Forward This Season

When my pick for MVP in the NHL is not a forward (I pick Nicklas Lidstrom of the Detroit Red Wings), I like to pick the best forward in the NHL so far this season. I think the best forward this season so far is Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals. Ovechkin is the top goal (43 goals) and point (70 points) scorer in the NHL. He is clearly the most valuable member of his Washington Capital team.

It seems that a large portion of the NHL mainstream is ready to crown Ovechkin as MVP if the season ended right now. It is a continuation of the story that the NHL wants to be true that the league is being rebuilt after the lockout on the shoulders of the two young stars Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins. They both came into the league together in 2005 and both became stars immediately. Crosby won MVP last year but is out for 6-8 weeks with a high ankle sprain. That removes Crosby from this year's MVP race (which he didn't look likely to win even when he was healthy). Now Ovechkin has taken this opportunity and will quite possibly be the scoring leader and MVP.

The problem with this story is that Nicklas Lidstrom has been far move valuable this year. Lidstrom leads the defencemen in the league in scoring with 51 points. He is also arguably the best defenceman in his own zone as well. He leads the NHL in +/- with a +46 rating. Lidstrom should be the clear choice for MVP, but he is not among the overall NHL scoring leaders. As a result, the Ovechkin/ Crosby myth can be maintained if Ovechkin keeps scoring and Ovechkin can win the MVP even though Lidstrom was more deserving. Alexander Ovechkin is the best forward in the league so far this season, but he is not the league's MVP.

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