We’re just over a month into the NHL season, and while there have been some surprise performances by teams (like the upstart Coyotes and the struggling Ducks), the best players in the league have largely been status-quo. Still it’s worth investigating early in the year who is making an effort to separate themselves in the race for the league MVP so you can jump on them while there’s still value to be had.
This year’s early front runners are mostly located in the Central Division, the toughest division in hockey. Patrick Kane came out on fire despite being in the middle of an ongoing criminal investigation. The charges have since been dropped, but Kane’s production hasn’t, and he’s tied for the league lead in points. As we mentioned, though, his Blackhawks play in the hell that is the Central Division and, if the playoffs started today, Chicago would be on the outside looking in.
Meanwhile, at the top of standings, the Dallas Stars’ young tandem of Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin have picked up where they left off. Benn, the leading scorer in the league last year, is tied for the early goals lead, and Seguin, the points lead. Seguin would’ve been right at the top of the heap with his linemate last season had he not missed 11 games. Neither’s production should slow down much, but if one were to regress, it’s likely Benn; he’s currently scoring on 26.3-percent of his shots, 13-percent better than his career average.
The reigning Hart Trophy winner is Canadiens goaltender Carey Price, who opened the season on a torrid pace. Now injuries have forced Price to the press box. A few weeks on the shelf shouldn’t hurt his chances much. But what’s been most damaging to his case for MVP has been the play of his backup, Mike Condon, who has posted an identical save percentage and lower goals against average in roughly as many starts.
Alex Ovechkin, John Tavares, and Vladimir Tarasenko are all off to the good starts you expect from players of their caliber. Two stars who didn’t live up to their billing out of the gate are Steven Stamkos and Sidney Crosby. After losing his scoring touch for almost two weeks, Stamkos has bounced back, with goals in three of his last four.
Crosby hasn’t really done likewise yet. The consensus best-player-in-the-league was downright worrisome to start, going pointless in eight of his team’s first nine games! He’s well back in the points race, even though Pittsburgh continues to win. But don’t count out a player of his talents in the MVP race just yet.
It’s still early, but here are the newest odds for who will win the Hart Trophy this season.
Odds to win the 2015-16 Hart Memorial Trophy:
- Jamie Benn (Dallas Stars) – 9/2
- Patrick Kane (Chicago Blackhawks) – 9/2
- Carey Price (Montreal Canadiens) – 11/2
- Tyler Seguin (Dallas Stars) – 6/1
- John Tavares (NY Islanders) – 8/1
- Vladimir Tarasenko (St. Louis Blues) – 8/1
- Alex Ovechkin (Washington Capitals) – 10/1
- Steven Stamkos (Tampa Bay Lightning) – 14/1
- Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins) – 14/1
(Photo Credit: Lisa Gansky from New York, NY, USA (IMG_6077) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)