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Top Five: MVP’s, Goalies, Defensemen and Rookies



Today’s a fun day for me – it was Power Rankings time over at USA Today.  That means I get to go data-mining and get caught up on which players are underachieving and who’s doing the opposite.  I’ll link to their rankings when they post.

Every other Monday, an esteemed panel of 10 hockey folks (we added Greg Wyshynski this year, to prove just how esteemed we really are) ranks all 30 NHL teams, and votes on the current top five MVP’s, goalies, defensemen, and rookies.  I won’t put my 30 team list up until USA Today uses it accordingly, but I don’t think there’s any harm in batting these other opinions around today.  Feel free to chime in on who I missed or who I overrated from the following lists.

(Ooo, I will say this: St. Louis and Tampa Bay were both in my top five.  Such a crush on St. Louis this year.)


Yeah that shot probably went in.

This was the first time in over a year my MVP ranking top-five didn’t include a goalie or d-man, so don’t act like I don’t have love for them.


  1. Steven Stamkos
  2. Marian Hossa
  3. Sidney Crosby
  4. Henrik Zetterberg
  5. Daniel Sedin

Always some regrets after you hit “send” to the editor, and I wish I had put Hossa first, I think.

I quite like my inclusion of Daniel Sedin.  He’s been money.


Up next, goalies:  I struggled with this one the most, as it’s early in the year so it’s a small sample size, which means there’s lots of factors to consider.  Like who they’ve played, home/away, what type of games were they, have they played enough games to be taken seriously…. Once everyone gets more starts, numbers will start to regress to the mean, and we’ll be able to make sense of who’s what.


But for now…


  1. Tim Thomas
  2. Brent Johnson
  3. Jimmy Howard
  4. Kari Lehtonen
  5. Ilya Bryzgalov

Honorable mention to Jaro Halak, Jon Quick and Antero Nittymaki.


For d-men, again, it’s early in the year.  You have to go as much on name as stats - d-men don’t have to be pouring them in to be effective.  Again, I like my number five here.  He’s been a major anchor and contributor on a team that desperately needed him to live up to those expectations.

8 points in 7 games, nbd.

Oh, and by the way, after my “you don’t have to be pouring points in to be effective” thing, enjoy my number one.


  1. Nicklas Lidstrom
  2. Duncan Keith
  3. Shea Weber
  4. Dan Boyle
  5. James Wisniewski


Rookies up last, and shocker, I once again love my number five (Hall).  His stats have been lacking, but watching him play, they’ll come.  He owned two separate periods of different games that I’ve seen, and as a rookie, that’s one hell of a feat.

3 pts, around 22 mins TOI last five games.

As for Fowler at number one: I don’t care how bad that d-corps is or how average he may look at times, you don’t play minutes like he’s getting without doing some things extremely well.


  1. Cam Fowler
  2. Mark Letestu
  3. Derek Stepan
  4. Oliver Ekman-Larson
  5. Taylor Hall

So what’s your feedback folks?  Where am I missing and who am I overrating?


First, here’s a picture of a Miami University D-man Will Weber, after having a close shave with a skate blade this past week (horrible, horrible pun for a guy who could’ve died).  Goo.



And last, Lebron’s new commercial.  Those folks at Nike know how to work it, boy.



25 Responses to “Top Five: MVP’s, Goalies, Defensemen and Rookies”
  1. Liviu Bird says:

    Some interesting names on that list. Daniel Sedin has been tearing it up for Vancouver in an otherwise mediocre early season for the Nucks. I don’t even want to know where they were on your list, but my guess would be it’s a two-digit number starting with a 2.

    Stamkos is on fire. How long do you think it will last? Does he have what it takes to be a big-time player all season?

    Luongo has been playing terrible. I think Vigneault should give Schneider the No. 1 shirt and let him run with it for a while. He’s played well in the two games he’s started and if nothing else, it might rattle Luongo’s cage a bit. Thoughts?

  2. jtbourne says:

    Close, I had them 18th I think. It stood out to me cause I picked them to win the cup. Nosso good.

  3. Roy Z says:

    Hossa has been a beast so far but it’s hard to argue with any of your top 5. Shuffle the deck & it probably works. Same for the goalies, well at least after Thomas.

    As for your D. I’ve been a huge fan of the Dunc well before he was on anyones list of any kind. But truth be told his game has been off a little so far. It could be he’s trying to be Duncan Keith Norris Trophy winner or it could be attributed to the Hawks just aren’t as good and he’s playing a ton of minutes with players that aren’t as good as the ones that were there last year. There are flashes but the consistency hasn’t been there yet.

    I’m not so sure about Dan Boyle either but honestly I haven’t seen much Sharks hockey and am just going on what I’ve caught on XM.

    BTW The Wiz at #5 is inspiring!

  4. TN Hockey says:

    wow, top of the NHL standings, the only undefeated team in regulation, both goalies with stats that’ll knock your socks off, AND after beating Dallas then Tampa Bay 22 hours later (both AWAY games) and the Preds get Shea Weber mentioned. wish you had a coaching list so i could have completed my laughfest when you left Trotz off of it.

    ok, forgiven. but St Louis????????? i spewed my mtn dew all over the screen on that one!

  5. jtbourne says:

    Roy – Yeah, I don’t know on Boyle either, but as for Duncan…. the guy is playing something close to THIRTY minutes a game. That’s insanity. Tough to be consistent playing that much, and the Hawks have already played ten games!

  6. jtbourne says:

    …..I didn’t even say where I put Nashville, did I? Geeeez…..

    Which list should have had a Predator on it? An MVP? No. A defenseman? Check. A rookie? No. So I apologize for not putting Rinne on my last, he definitely deserves at least a shoutout with those numbers.


  7. Blake says:

    Yeah…I had much love for Nashville in my power rankings at HPT today…But I can’t honestly say that there’s one player on their team that really stands out as having an MVP worthy season. I can’t say that I’ve got any issue with any one of the guys you put on your MVP list. For D, though, I think I would have put J.M. Liles in there somewhere. Dude has just been on fire so far for the Avs, but those are still five solid choices. For goalie, there’s so many goalies having good seasons and rebound seasons that you could probably throw a dart at a list five times and come up with a suitable top 5.

    My big question, though, is what is your NOT top 5 for each? That’s what I wanna know!

  8. crushasaurus says:

    I know you hate Carolina, but Jeff Skinner looks b-e-a-utiful so far.

  9. liverning says:

    Webber is a monster, Rinne apparently is one also. Love Little Stevie Sullivan… However…
    The Preds play a pretty boring brand of hockey… Trotz gets credit for spreading the manure well enough
    to win consistently, but honestly who wants to watch that kind of hockey on a consistent basis?
    I think that Nashville gets their points by literally lulling the opposition to sleep and then taking advantage
    of them… They shouldn’t be called the Predators, they should be the Nashville Roofies, Ambien…
    “Ladies and Gentlemen stand and cheer your Nashville Lunesta…” Yup, that sounds more accurate…
    Stamkos is gonna get hurt, if the Lightning don’t find a player who can protect him (or if he cannot better
    protect himself.

  10. Liviu Bird says:

    Yeah I would have picked Vancouver to win the Cup too. Thankfully, Stanley Cups aren’t won in October and all those other it’s-not-too-late proverbs you always hear. I’d rather finish well than end well any day (which also describes my current college season, ironically).

  11. Jeff says:

    How did you decide your MVP’s? Best player or player who does the most for their team?

  12. jtbourne says:

    Great question Jeff. MVP is stupid when we all know we’re picking the best player. I went w/ best season to date.

  13. Matt Reitz says:

    Gotta agree that Cam Fowler has been great this year. Even in the game that he was knocked out by Shane Doan, he was doing things (goal and the end-to-end rush he was injured on) that rookie defensemen have a hard time doing. I’d put Ekman-Larsson a little higher just because of all the things he does that DON’T show up on the stat sheet… for that matter, I’d do the same with Jeff Skinner. I know the kid is a pure goal scorer, but whenever I watch the Hurricanes, he seems to be all over the ice making things happen.

    As far as Hall goes… I gotta say I’ve been more impressed with Eberle. Not because of his 2 highlight goals (although those were both nice), but dude’s playing on the PK, as well as the PP. I know he’s a year older and down the road Hall has the potential to be a superstar… but right now, Eberle looks like the best rookie on the Oilers so far. (And with that, I full expect Hall to have a hat trick and be a +8 or something tomorrow night)

  14. jtbourne says:

    Haha, that’s the toughest part of this job – going on record. Amazing how often you’re wrong w/o the advantage of hindsight.

  15. Alix in SJ says:

    Not sure if it’s enough to knock any of those 5 rookies out of the lineup (yet), but: keep an eye on Logan Couture. Centering the 3rd line and the 2nd PP unit for the Sharks, is currently tied for 9th in rookie scoring, one of only two rookies (along with Letetsu) with 2 GWG, 13th for rookie TOI, has the best faceoff percentage for rookies with more than 20 draws taken (57.5%) and is +1 on a team that is more than half at Even or minus. Unlike Letetsu and Hall, he’s getting some time on the PK as well.

  16. andy says:

    for rookies, i really like jordan caron of the bruins. hes not the sexy pick, but he plays the pk and has been really solid in his own zone. again, not sexy.
    the oilers rookies are just fun to watch. ive seen more oilers games already this year than all of last year.

    side note – am i the only one who thinks jack johnson isnt very good? half the time his outlet passes are either way ahead or way behind his target. the other half, it seems like he just passes to the forechecking forward… he drove me nuts during the olympics.

  17. SDC says:

    Gotta agree with Reitz – No rookie love for Eberle?

  18. noam says:

    possibly ahead of all of the rookies, but at least most – and despite the fact he’s an old old man at 22 – anders lindback! i should know, since i have rinne in almost every pool i’m in this year (still money) and i’ve been watching lindback get all the wins in the meantime… at least deserves to be up there with fowler, if going by that “not standing out as a rookie should” factor.

    after actually checking up to see if this had already been mentioned… “A rookie? No.” cmon! not to be “that guy” with the stats, but, well, the stats. even though he plays for 0.1scoringchancesagameville.

  19. BL says:

    As always, great topics, great writing.

    Not a cat person myself, but couldn’t believe I hadn’t seen this on your blog yet…

  20. James.P says:

    Unless you factor in age (he’s 21 vs Fowler’s 18 and Larson’s 19), I don’t see why PK Subban isn’t in the rookies top 5. Amongst rookie defensemen:
    - tied for second in scoring
    - tied for first at +3
    - first in per game time on ice
    - first in per game even strength and PP time on ice

    Responsible in his own end, great to lead the attack, exciting to watch play, physical, plays over 1:30 per game on the PK, consistently plays top 6 competition… this guy is for real. He should definitely be on your list.

  21. jtbourne says:

    James, Noam: See, I love putting up “top whatever” lists, because it’s such an unreal way to learn about players around the league. Everybody follows their own team closely, and it’s near impossible to compare players when you haven’t personally watched them. So, fans like you guys share that great info, and we all learn, thanks. Sounds like both those guys deserve to be on or near that list (especially Subban).

    SDC – Eberle’s been good, but he reminds me of that kid that would score like nine goals in bantam and never pass the puck. He’s off to a good start, but these other guys are off to better ones (maybe not Hall, that may have been a miss by me).

  22. voline says:

    Damn, Will Weber is going to make a *fantastic* Frankenstein’s monster this Halloween.

  23. Char says:

    Taylor Hall? ::scratches head::

    Andy is right – Jordan Caron. He’s Bergeron 2.0.

  24. jtbourne says:

    Sure, but Char: ::turns on megaphone:: YOU’VE BEEN KNOWN TO BE A TOUCH BIASED. ::smiles::

  25. Addison says:

    First post here, but long time follower. I gotta ask where the consideration is for John Carlson of Washington in top 5 rookies? I follow the Caps, and Red Wings, mostly, and I know you can toss out the argument that his stats are amplified by who he plays with, but of the games I’ve watched, he’s been not just their best defenseman, but perhaps their best player. Rarely is he caught out of position, always makes smart decisions with and without the puck, and he’s racking up points and +/-. The more I watch him, the more I’m amazed at his composure. I also love the fact that he was the first man to drop the mitts on Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond when he jumped Johansson early in the season. The guys a beaute, and is my pick to come out on top for Calder voting by season’s end.

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