With a little over the season over, we are starting to see who will make a push for the playoffs, who will be sellers at the trade deadline, and who will be going into panic mode. So while we wait for the trade flurry to begin, let’s take a look at the teams in the Pacific Division and who has been each team’s most valuable player thus far this season.
Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim Ducks)
Getzlaf has been an elite player for many years for the Ducks, but recently he has become more of a complete leader for this Ducks team. He had a tendency to whine a lot to referees in the past, but he has cut that out of his game and concentrates more on what he can do on the ice. Getzlaf has 54 points (17 goals and 34 assists) in 51 games and together with Corey Perry make up one of the most lethal center/winger combination in the league.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson (Arizona Coyotes)
OEL doesn’t only have his own clothing/hat line. He also has seven game-winning goals this season and is one away from setting a new NHL record for game-winning goals by a defenseman in a single season. Three of these seven has been in overtime, and with 16 goals so far this season, he leads the Coyotes in goalscoring. Not only is Ekman-Larsson an offensive threat, especially on the power play, but he’s also one of the league’s best all-round defensemen. At 23 years old, OEL is already being compared to the Detroit Red Wings legendary defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom.
Mark Giordano (Calgary Flames)
Giordano was in the Norris Trophy discussion last season after a strong performance for a struggling Calgary Flames team, but eventually was not among the nominations. This season he seems like a lock in for a nomination. The Flames are doing a lot better and Giordano is the backbone of the team. With 43 points (11 goals and 32 assists) he leads the team in scoring and has developed great chemistry with his defensive partner T.J. Brodie. Giordano is making an extreme strong case for himself this season, and if the Flames managed to grab a playoff spot and he continues to produce, he will definitely be in the running.
Jordan Eberle (Edmonton Oilers)
It’s tough to select a MVP for the Oilers, a team that is having another abysmal season and is currently only two points ahead of the Buffalo Sabres, arguably the worst team in the last 10 years. But Jordan Eberle is one of few players that at least can keep his head high despite Oilers terrible results. Eberle is arguably the most talented player on this Oilers team, and he does not carry the blame of the disaster that is going on right now in Edmonton.
Anze Kopitar (Los Angeles Kings)
The Kings are not having the best of seasons. It could be that the team has finally run out of steam since they have played a lot of hockey during the last couple of seasons. Throw in the Olympics, and you can see why the leaders of this team might be worn out. One of these players is Anze Kopitar. The face of Slovenian hockey started off the season a bit slow, but has recently picked up his game significantly. He leads the team in scoring with 40 points (11 goals and 29 assists) in 49 games. Still a two-way center of the highest calibre, Kopitar is the guy who needs to carry the Kings on his shoulders when the team is struggling (Kings are currently in 10th in the Western Conference).
Brent Burns (San Jose Sharks)
Burns might look as a caveman when he grows out his beard and hair, but on the ice he is a beast in the best meaning of the word. No matter if he plays on the wing, or as a defenseman as he has this season, he is a force to be reckoned with. He plays a tough game and it hurts to go up against Burns along the boards. He also puts up points from the blue line (11 goals and 28 assists in 54 games), and even though I think he is better on the wing, he’s definitely one of the better defensemen in the NHL. Logs the most minutes of all Sharks by a wide margin and will be one of the guys who is extremely important if the team is going to be able to get over the mental hump in the playoffs.
Ryan Miller (Vancouver Canucks)
Miller has had a great start to his time with the Canucks. You could argue that the Sedin twins could be the MVP (because they count as one, right?), but the way Miller has gone in and played in a new team and a different conference is very impressive. He’s tied for second with six shutouts in 39 games, with a Vancouver team that had a lot of question marks around it going into the season.
His save percentage (.916) and goal-against average (2.35) are very respectable playing in front of a defense that has seen better days. Miller has given the team in front of him a sense of calm and he gives team a chance to win against any team. With Miller between the pipes, the Canucks have conceded the least amount of goals in the Pacific Division, and third least in the Western Conference.