CBS Sports Pete Blackburn released his NHL power rankings for the week on March 5, and also speculated about who the Hart Trophy candidates as the NHL’s most valuable players might be for the season. Among those he named were, first from a pure production standpoint, Leon Draisaitl who’s having an amazing season.
Blackburn then listed Connor McDavid, who he calls the most skilled player in the world – and who’s to argue. Third, he named the NHL’s leading goal scorer, the Boston Bruins’ David Pastrnak.
Finally, he named Artemi Panarin and Nathan MacKinnon as two guys who’ve meant the most to their teams. Panarin’s season is the single reason the New York Rangers are a surprise in the Metropolitan Division race, and MacKinnon has almost doubled the point total of the next closest guy on his playoff-bound team.
Blackburn’s Rankings of Canadian Teams
Here are his rankings:
Edmonton Oilers: #10 (Up One Spot)
Team’s Most Valuable Player: Leon Draisaitl
Draisaitl’s 108 points are tops in the league. He’s been a huge force for an Edmonton team that needed huge performances from its top players to remain in the hunt. He has deficiencies in his defensive game, but his overwhelming production offensively makes those irrelevant (anyway, I disagree with Blackburn on this point).
Draisaitl has been a part of more than half (50.9 percent) of his team’s total offense this season. Blackburn noted earlier that he thought Draisaitl and Connor McDavid should share the Hart Trophy, but since then Draisaitl helped solidify his case for winning it himself because he continued to score big with McDavid missing from the lineup.
Toronto Maple Leafs #12 (Up Five Spots)
Team’s Most Valuable Player: Auston Matthews
Matthews has proven he’s one of the best young offensive players in the game and is right in the thick of the Rocket Richard chase with a career-high 46 goals. But Matthews has also improved his defensive game as well. It’s been a frustrating season for Toronto, but Matthews has developed into an elite scoring threat.
Vancouver Canucks #13 (Down One Spot)
Team’s Most Valuable Player: Elias Pettersson
Pettersson beats rookie Quinn Hughes, who was a tempting choice. Hughes has been a godsend to a team that needed a playmaker on the blue line for some time, but Pettersson means so much to this team as a forward. He’s tied for a team-high 26 goals and is second in points behind JT Miller. Miller should also get consideration as the Canucks’ MVP. Pettersson also leads all Vancouver skaters in shot attempt share (54.6 percent) and goal share (61.7 percent).
Calgary Flames #15 (Up Three Spots)
Team’s Most Valuable Player: Mark Giordano
The veteran defenseman Giordano leads Calgary blueliners in points and is averaging nearly 24 minutes a night while playing everywhere and in every situation. He’s also first among Flames defensemen in shot attempt share (53.2 percent) and goal share (54.9 percent). He’s an amazing player.
Winnipeg Jets #18 (Up One Spot)
Team’s Most Valuable Player: Connor Hellebuyck
Even Winnipeg fans believe that the team’s fortunes center around Hellebuyck. He’s had a strong season behind a bad defense (it wasn’t for lack of planning, but it’s been tough) and Hellebuyck’s the reason Winnipeg’s been able to stay in the playoff picture. His .920 save percentage, while good, doesn’t necessarily jump off a page, but it’s a lot more impressive when you consider the Jets give up the most high-danger chances in the league.
Montreal Canadiens #23 (Up One Spot)
Team’s Most Valuable Player: Phillip Danault
Danault beats Tomas Tatar because, although Tatar has the sexier offensive numbers, Danault is second in points (47) while remaining one of the best defensive forwards in the game. His work in all three zones and in all situations gives him the edge over Tatar.
Ottawa #30 (Same as Last Week)
Team’s Most Valuable Player: Jean-Gabriel Pageau
Pageau may not be on the team anymore but he was their most productive offensive player (as well as a two-way contributor) before landing them two high draft picks at the trade deadline. You won’t find someone who’s done more for them this season.
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