With the entertaining festivities and glamorous feats of skill now out of the way, the NHL has resumed regular play and enters the mid-way point of its long and grueling season.
The playoff hunt is well under way, and more players are stepping up their game to ensure their teams have a shot at Lord Stanley’s Cup.
Some players, however, have been well ahead of the pack in terms of skill and value, and already many fans are wondering who will be crowned this season’s MVP.
The 2015-16 season has produced a myriad of candidates.
Patrick Kane may be sitting comfortably at No. 1 in the point standings, but Dallas Star forwards Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin are turning heads and exceeding expectations.
Sidney Crosby has finally regained his mojo and looks to place somewhere in the top 10, while Evgeny Kuznetsov and goaltender Braden Holtby are showing the world that the Great Eight isn’t the only Capital worth watching.
It certainly is an assorted bunch, and every single one of these stars has a legitimate chance at being named MVP.
Though I’m tempted to pick one of them, I believe this season’s current MVP is actually Erik Karlsson.
Karlsson has always been an exceptional player, a fast-skating defenseman with offensive capabilities superior than many of his defensive peers.
He has led defensemen in points in three of the last four seasons and, with 59 points as of this writing, is well on his way to replicating that feat.
It’s a wonder he’s been able to perform at such an octane level when playing for a less-than-stellar team in the Ottawa Senators, but Karlsson is doing just that.
That is one of the prime reasons why I believe Karlsson is current MVP: in spite of the odds and in spite of a poor team, Karlsson is finding ways to improve and excel at his game.
While there’s no denying that Patrick Kane has been dominating the scoring race, one has to consider the fact that he’s playing with a very good team in the Chicago Blackhawks.
The same can be said for Holtby, Kuznetsov and Crosby.
However, Karlsson is essentially carrying his team.
The Senators’ record is nothing to brag about, but it could be much worse if not for Karlsson’s impressive performance.
The only reason why he’s being overlooked for Hart Trophy contention is the fact that he plays for Ottawa.
His 59 points are 14 ahead of teammate Bobby Ryan and 14 ahead of the next defenseman, Brent Burns.
He leads the league in assists, and did I mention he’s in third place in the point race?
A race typically dominated by forwards?
So, while many may name Kane or Holtby as their MVP thus far this season, my gut has to go with Karlsson.
A defenseman proving to be the single driving force of his team and competing with high-scoring forwards in scoring is pretty hard to ignore.