Every Team's MVP

To pick up off of our articles from last season, we will be determining who we feel is each teams MVP. Currently, teams have barely started the season, so this edition will be a prediction as to how we feel that things will shake out and we’re sure there will be many that disagree. 

Let's start with the Wales Conference;

  1. Boston Bruins - Scott Young (LW)

The Bruins have a strong up and coming team with many players that could be MVP on a few teams within the league. Steve Larmer, Troy Murray, Bill Houlder and Cujo could all get the nod here, but we felt that Scott Young will stand apart this season for the Bruins. Young is offensively gifted, and well he's just that, he's young. At only 26 years old he's got plenty of gas in the tank and has a scoring touch that will rack up the goals this year for the Bruins. Again we know this is arguable, but we think if Young is put in a good position to succeed, that he will flourish this season for the Bruins. 

  1.  Hartford Whalers - Mario Lemieux (C)

It's pretty impossible to argue with this pick on just about any team in the league. Mario Lemieux truly is "Super Mario". Hartford has many other talented players on their roster, Oates, Andersson and Tinordi to name a few, but none can compare to Mario.  Not only is he among the best in the league offensively, but his physical attributes and solid defensive game make him arguably the best player in the entire league today. For Hartford, this one is a no brainer, Super Mario is their guy and will be for some time. MVP without question. 

  1. Quebec Nordiques - Joe Sakic (C)

Ahhh, Quebec. While not everyone’s favourite destination, it is certainly a hotbed of hockey fandom and passion. Nobody riots over sports like they do in Quebec and Montreal. This fan base in particular, has embraced Joe Sakic as their guy, and they know what they’re talking about because he is certainly their MVP. He can skate, he can pass and he sure can shoot and score. Truly an elite level centreman, and at just 25 years old, Joe will be the man for this Nordiques team for quite some time. This one wasn't a slam dunk however, as defencemen Scott Stevens was a close second due to his ability to also have a huge impact on any game from the back end. After weighing both options we feel Sakic will be the Nordiques MVP this year. 

  1. Buffalo Sabres - Dean Evason (C)

When we look at the Sabres, it's obvious they're in a different part of their franchises history than some teams in the league. It's tempting to name GM Brandon Johnson as the Sabres MVP, for burning down his perennial contender, but also getting mega young talent and prospects in return. Despite this, we're going to go with Dean Evason because he's a pro player with a solid two way game that can skate and honestly their just isn’t much else there. He will also stick up for his teammates, albeit he has big time discipline issues. Not much to pick from today, but in 3-5 years the Sabres will be back and knocking on the door again. 

  1. Toronto Maple Leafs - Jan Ingman (LW)

The Toronto Maple Leafs are one of the most storied franchises in the entire league without question. The league is better when the Leafs are amongst the elite, but right now the Leafs are in a state of transition.  As it stands today we feel their MVP will be Jan Ingman. Ingman is a solid two-way forward that would slot into many teams lineups within the league. That's not to say he's a top six guy, but for where the Leafs are currently at, he's likely their best. While not a physically imposing player, Ingman possesses some scoring touch and can distribute the puck to his line mates to set up goals as well. For a franchise that's where the Leafs are, Ingman will be crucial to help bring along any prospects the Leafs have coming down the pipeline. 

  1. Montreal Canadiens - Sergei Federov (C)

Ahhh another team from Quebec. One that's home to poutine, Chez Paris and the stupendously ungrateful. Lucky for Montreal that the Canadiens are a team that are very much on the rise within the league. A big part of that has to do with who we feel their MVP will be, the Russian Phenom, Sergei Fedorov.  A team blooming with young talent, Fedorov stands above the rest by quite a bit. Scott Niedermayer, Keith Tcachuk and Trevor Linden are all going to be stars and have many successes, but it's hard right now to pick anyone other than Fedorov because he's already there. The guy is only 25 but he's already among the league's very best. The puck seems to stick to him like glue. He's also extremely explosive and scores insanely difficult goals, all while making it look easy. Expect a huge year from Fedorov and for the Habs to only improve as this cores grows together. 

  1. New Jersey Devils - Dave Andeychuk (RW)

The New Jersey Devils went in a very different direction when new GM Jon Maschke took over the reigns of the franchise. Maschke immediately made some big moves to make the team more competitive and some of those included bringing in guys like Boschman and Andreychuk. For us, the MVP for the Devils this season is going to be Dave Andreychuk over Boschman. Andreychuk is just a cut above for us, and although this one is going to be close, we feel that Andreychuk has a killer instinct that Boschman doesn't. Both players can score and distribute the puck to their team mates, but in a competitive or nasty game where you need a clutch goal, we like Andreychuk. That being said, it's close. 

  1. New York Rangers - Nicklas Lidstrom (D)

This one is another no brainer to pick for just anybody viewing the New York Rangers roster. Lidstrom is only 23 years old and looks to be one of the best defencemen in the league. Lyle Odelein is no slouch in the blue line, despite having a tough year last year on a Rangers team that is still figuring things out and trying-tooling, but it's just not that close. Lidstrom has to be the guy because not only is he easily the best on this Rangers team, but also moving forward he may go down as one of the best to ever play this position in the league if he keeps progressing the way that he is. 

  1. New York Islanders - Alexei Yashin (RW)

The New York Islanders were perennial contenders for a long time in the NFHL. At long last, they are in a rebuild and no longer have the star power that they once possessed on the big club. Despite all of that they have some bright spots in terms of their prospects that are on the way. One of those prospects is already with the big club at just 20 years old and we feel he has a chance to lead his team in scoring this season if he's given the chance to play big minutes. This prospect is none other than the flashy RW Alexei Yashin. Yashin will no doubt be a dynamic offensive force in the league for years to come, and we feel that this season he may be the Most Valuble Player for this Islanders team if given the chance. 

  1. Florida Panthers - Wayne Gretzky (C)

The Florida Panthers are in win-now mode after just joining the league. They are a team that is rich with talent, albeit aging talent. Any team with names like Messier, Kurri, Boimistruck and Kurvers, to name a few, is definitely going to be in the thick of contention. Despite all of their resumes, nobody can argue against "The Great One" as being Florida's MVP. Wayne Gretzky is 33 years old, making him no spring chicken anymore. However, he's still arguably the league's very best player. Essentially, on any team he could be their MVP, and it's extremely difficult to argue against that. Gretzky literally does it all for any team that he's on and he will do it again this year for the Panthers. 

  1. Tampa Bay Lightning - Kevin Dineen (C)

Time for a pure expansion team in the league. Most GMs would agree that the Lightning did well in the expansion draft. That being said, they're not going to be contending this season and are short on top end talent. Kevin Dineen will most definitely be the Lightning's MVP this season because there simply isn’t much else there yet. Dineen comes in as a 30 year old veteran with gas left in the tank to produce for a few years. An above average skater with a scoring touch, Dineen will definitely be a solid pro and the MVP for this new roster. And not for nothing, he's the rugged type that will stick up for the kids and his team mates. 

  1.  Philadelphia Flyers - John Leclair (LW)

The Flyers have a great team and have really come along in the last couple of seasons. A virtual lock to make the playoffs, they too have many names that would be welcomed with open arms by all teams in the league. Brind'Amour, Goulet, Turgeon, Recchi, Lindros, and even goaltender Barasso are all studs. But when looking at this team, John Leclair seems to be the man right now, even though he's just 25. Leclair is a shooter that is extremely tough to get the puck from and despite not having quite the level of scoring touch as Goulet, his skating and intensity tell you he's going to get to those high scoring area more often. This one is also very debatable, but at just 25 we feel Leclair is not only the MVP, but also the face of the Flyers organization. 

  1.  Pittsburgh Penguins - Sean Burke (G)

The Pittsburgh Penguins are another team that really burnt everything to the ground and began a long tenuous rebuild. And it's only now that they're starting to see some of the fruits of their labour. With players like Gonchar, Jagr, Amonte and Zubov on their way up, the future looks bright. All things considered, this team still lives or dies on the back of goaltender Sean Burke. The Penguins have a chance to make the playoffs this season due to their conference and division. They'd have a much tougher time on the other side. Even still, Sean Burke will need to impress this season to make that happen. We feel he does, as he's in the best form of his career and is now truly among the elite goalies in the league. 

That takes care of the cream of the crop of the Wales. Let's now have a look at the Campbell Conference;

  1. Colorado Rockies - Ron Francis (C)

Of all the teams in the league, the Rockies are the truest model of consistency and possess from top to bottom the most complete team. We actually reached out to GM Mike Smith on who he felt the  MVP was within his organization and after some thoughts he came back with Ron Francis. Elite passing, elite scoring, elite puck control, etc; Francis checks many boxes that make him worthy of being the MVP on the best team in the league. At 31 years old, he isn't very young, but he's just a kid when compared to Tremblay and Stastny who are still elite at the ripe age of 38 years old. It remains to be seen how the Rockies will fair once these legends retire, however having Francis as their MVP today isn't a bad start. Expect another huge season from this franchise with Francis leading the way. 

  1.  Columbus Blue Jackets - Glenn Anderson (RW)

Time for the the second team we're taking a look at from the Campbell Conference and it happens we have another team that is flush with top end players and will be a contender for the cup, in the Columbus Blue Jackets. For Columbus, it's an older player at 34 years old who will be their MVP this season in Glenn Anderson. Despite being in the twilight of his career, the right winger still brings it offensively every year and is always amongst the league leaders in scoring. While this may not be fair to Dominik Hasek, we just feel he won't get the workload due to the talent in front of him in order to be the MVP for the Jackets. 

  1. Detroit Red Wings - Denis Savard (LW)

Detroit is another team that came under new management recently that immediately hit the gas in terms of wheeling and dealing to ensure they’re competing right now. There most recently acquired forward from the Sabres, Denis Savard, will be their MVP this season. Savard comes from a winning team to another one. Buffalo had had enough and decided it was times to tear it down, shipping Savard to Detroit. He instantly becomes Detroit's MVP with his combination of skating, speed and what many believe is the greatest scoring touch in the entire league. Savard is a juggernaut and will lead the Wings deep into the playoffs this season. 

  1. Minnesota North Stars - Brian Leetch (D)

The Minnesota North Stars are on their way up. Loaded with young "stars" (killing it with the dad jokes) the future seams bright in Minnesota. The average age of players with the big club is 28 years old, however most of their top end players are actually under the age of 28. We feel the best of which is defencemen Brian Leetch.  An elite skater and puck mover, Leetch exudes what it means to be a leader and a Most Valuable Player. With an up and coming goalie like Martin Brodeur in the net, it will be essential that Leetch leads by example in the blue line and we feel he's up to the task. Expect Leetch to have a huge share in any of the North Stars' success this season. 

  1. St. Louis Blues - Mike Richter (G)

The Blues are a team that could make the playoffs but are unlikely to go very deep into the post season. They have some decent players on their roster, but nobody that would be considered to be amongst the league’s elite. Many good players, but no true great players and most of them are aging. A rebuild is likely on the horizon. If they're going to make any noise this season it is going to be off of the play of goaltender Mike Richter. This isn't just saying that they Blues aren't good. They're a decent team, and no doubt Richter is a very good goalie and their best player. But for them to compete for a Cup, he will need to be the league MVP. No matter how deep they go Richter will be the Blues MVP. 

  1. Chicago Blackhawks - Bill Guerin (RW)

The Chicago Blackhawks have a young core and are a couple of years into a rebuild of their own. Recently drafting budding young prospects like Paul Kariya and Patrick Elias, it appears Chicago is well on their way to building a solid foundation for the future. For the time being they do have some good talent in their big league roster, headlined by the likes of Rich Pilon, Joe Sacco, Bryan Smolinski and a few others. Their MVP this year will be Bill Guerin. At 23 years old, the forward is a complete package on the wing and will only continue to get better. As it stands today, he's the Blackhawks' best offensive player and will be integral to any success they have this year and for years to come. This season he will be their MVP. 

  1. Edmonton Oilers - Phil Housley (D)

The Edmonton Oilers are yet another franchise that was a powerhouse and contender for many years. They recently tore things down a bit, but we'd rather call it a retooling than a rebuild as they appear to be still amongst the teams that will make the post season, while also getting younger and having some solid prospects. As things sit today, the Oilers MVP for this season will be defencemen Phil Housley whom they recently acquired from the Buffalo Sabres with Steve Thomas in exchange for prospects and picks. Housley is a smooth skating two-way defencemen that excels at keeping the puck out of his own net while also chipping in regularly on the offensive side of the game. You'd be hard pressed too many better puck handling defencemen in the league, and definitely not on this roster. Phil Housley is Edmonton's MVP prediction for this season. 

  1. Calgary Flames - Kelly Buchberger (LW)

The Calgary Flames, our other true expansion team, as they are today, are starting the rebuilding process. They have some good young prospects in the minors, but are lacking on their big club roster for elite talent. The Flames current MVP for this season is going to be Kelly Buchberger. Buchberger isn’t a name that jumps off the page at you, but for where this Calgary team is, he will play a pivotal role for them. A solid playmaker and goal scorer, his rugged style of play and willingness to get into the dirty areas will lead to success for the Flames and serve as an example to some of the other players. 

  1. Vancouver Canucks - Paul Coffey (D)

Vancouver made a huge splash by recently acquiring Paul Coffey from the Hartford Whalers and sending a message to the rest of the league that they felt ready to make a push. Adding Coffey immediately made him their best defencemen and certainly their MVP for the upcoming season, as he’s a already a winner and his talent is without question. There’s no doubt Coffey will perform and be the anchor in the back end that the Canucks need him to be. The only player in the roster that could give Coffey a run as MVP is Mike Modano, but he’s just not there yet. 

  1. Winnipeg Jets - Dave Ellett (D)

Ahh the Winnipeg Jets. Consistently one of the best drafting teams in the league, and current Cup contender. The Jets' blue line in particular is one of the league’s best, bolstered with names like MacInnis, Ellett and Sweeney. They have Muller, Gallant and Nieuwendyk up front as well. Flush with talent, they may be, we like Ellett as their MVP. Last year, the top 3 defencemen from the Jets all deserved to make it to the All-Star game for the fantastic season they had. We happen to hold the opinion that Ellett is not only their most valuable defencemen, but also their most valuable player. What sets him apart is his scoring touch and the offensive production that he consistently contributes. This one is tough to call, but we’re going with Ellett for the Jets MVP. 

  1. San Jose Sharks - Teppo Numminen (D)

The Sharks are another team that appears to be part way between being ready to compete and ready to start a bit of a rebuild. Like the Blues, the Sharks appear good enough to qualify for the post season, but likely not good enough to compete for a championship. To boot, many of their better players seem to have reached their natural peak already and they are victims of having many good players, but are lacking in great players. Our pick for MVP this season for the Sharks is defencemen Teppo Numminen. At just 26 year old he’s still got plenty of years to go, but is likely at his natural ceiling. A good puck handling defencemen that thinks defence first, he will be drawing the biggest assignments along with Marchment.  

  1. Anaheim Ducks - Yuri Khmylev (C)

The Ducks recently stripped everything down and began a rebuild after contending for a couple of season and making a very respectable push for a title. As they stand right now, they’re not expected to challenge for the post season and will likely continue to draft and develop from within. On their current roster, it would appear that their teams MVP for this upcoming season will be centremen Yuri Khmylev. Khmylev is a solid pro that can score and distribute the puck at a decent level. On most competing teams he’d be a 3rd liner, but a solid player nonetheless, and definitely Anaheim’s MVP. 

  1. Los Angeles Kings - Ron Hextall (G)

The Kings have some great talent in their team and are looking to qualify for the playoffs. Last season, a lot of their success could definitely be attributed to the man between the pipes and that hasn’t changed heading into this year. The Kings MVP for this season will once again be Ron Hextall. Hextall is a “passionate” goaltender that gives his all every game. Last year, he was an elite goaltending posting a 3.36 GAA and an .880 save percentage. for a team that some believed overachieved. There can be no doubt that they wouldn’t have made it to the second round of the postseason without his stellar play. To add he also lead the league in assists by a goalie with 9 and even mixed in 17 PIMs.  The Kings success this season rides on their MVP Ron Hextall. 

Thanks for reading.