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31 NHL MVPs: A team-by-team look at the league’s best players this season

Check out the 31 team MVPs entering the final month of the 2017-18 NHL regular season.

With one month remaining in the NHL regular season, Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov, Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin, Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon and New Jersey’s Taylor Hall have emerged as the frontrunners for the Hart Trophy.

But what about the league’s best players on a team-by-team basis? Here’s a look at the 31 team MVPs so far this season:

Anaheim Ducks: Rickard Rakell
When the Ducks dealt with injury after injury in the first half of the season, it was Rakell who stepped up and helped keep the team in playoff contention. He’s already established a career-high in points to lead Anaheim in scoring, and he has a good chance to top the personal-best 33 goals he scored last season.

Arizona Coyotes: Antti Raanta
If you’re the Coyotes’ No. 1 netminder and you’re rocking a .924 save percentage, which is on the cusp of the top five among NHL starting goalies, you’re the team MVP. Full stop.

Boston Bruins: Patrice Bergeron
Brad Marchand has better numbers, David Pastrnak is more dangerous and Tuukka Rask has been near unbeatable since December. But the Bruins belong to Bergeron, the best two-way forward of his generation.

Buffalo Sabres: Jack Eichel
He’s effectively done for the season – but then again, so are the Sabres. Ryan O’Reilly and Rasmus Ristolainen are Buffalo’s only other plausible candidates.

Calgary Flames: Johnny Gaudreau
It was close for a while, but ‘Johnny Hockey’ is running away with Flames MVP honors. He’s got a 17-point lead on linemate Sean Monahan in the team’s scoring race, and goalie Mike Smith has missed too much time.

Carolina Hurricanes: Sebastian Aho
Just 20 years old and he’s already got his second straight 20-plus goal season in the NHL. Jordan Staal is the only Hurricanes forward who plays more than Aho. There’s a lot to more to come from this guy.

Chicago Blackhawks: Patrick Kane
It was Corey Crawford until the Hawks’ starting goalie went down with a potential season-ending injury. Kane’s 18-point bulge on Chicago’s next-highest scorers (Jonathan Toews and Nick Schmaltz) is the third-biggest gap among the NHL’s 31 teams.

Colorado Avalanche: Nathan MacKinnon
A bona fide Hart Trophy candidate until he missed two-plus weeks in February, MacKinnon can still make a case for league MVP with a big push in the final month of the season.

Columbus Blue Jackets: Seth Jones
We won’t put up a big fight if you prefer Artemi Panarin or Sergei Bobrovsky. But the pick here is Jones, who’s a constant presence on the ice for Columbus, playing nearly 25 minutes per game including a central role on the power play and penalty kill. He’s second behind Panarin in team scoring and is one of 10 Blue Jackets players with between 10 and 21 goals.

Dallas Stars: Tyler Seguin
The Stars have some some glitter guys – Jamie Benn, Alexander Radulov, John Klingberg – but there’s no denying that Seguin is the sparkling centerpiece. He scores frequently and at high speed, and has a chance to snatch the Rocket Richard Trophy with goal-frenzy finish.

Detroit Red Wings: Mike Green
This one’s by default. Dylan Larkin and Henrik Zetterberg haven’t scored enough to merit MVP kudos – they’re stuck on nine goals apiece – and Jimmy Howard has slowed down considerably since the first half of the season. Anthony Mantha has all the tools, but needs to put it together on a more consistent basis. Green, meanwhile, has been one of the few feel-good stories in Detroit this season.

Edmonton Oilers: Connor McDavid
This one isn’t close. McDavid might see a glimpse of Leon Draisaitl in his rearview mirror, but the rest of the Oilers are out of eyesight. It’s hard to win the Hart when your team doesn’t make the playoffs – in fact, it hasn’t happened in 30 years.

Florida Panthers: Aleksander Barkov
Forget team MVP, he’s making a late push for league MVP. The driving force for the Panthers, Barkov is a point-per-game player and skates nearly 22-and-a-half minutes per game, more than any other forward in the league.

Los Angeles Kings: Anze Kopitar
See above. What Barkov is to the Panthers, Kopitar is to the Kings. (Related: Kopitar plays 22 minutes per game, second-most among NHL forwards behind Barkov.) After a down year in 2016-17, Kopitar has been redeemed and rejuvenated this season. He has 71 points, while Dustin Brown is the second-highest scoring Kings player with 45.

Minnesota Wild: Eric Staal
Don’t look now, but the guy who got traded out of Carolina and couldn’t play center for the Rangers a couple years ago might win the Rocket Richard Trophy this season. He’s on pace for 80-plus points, a plateau he hasn’t reached in a decade.

Montreal Canadiens: Brendan Gallagher
The Habs sparkplug also happens to be the team’s leading goal-scorer and top point-producer. In a perfect world, the middle-six winger wouldn’t crack Montreal’s top five team MVP candidates – but as the Canadiens have discovered this season, the world ain’t perfect.

Nashville Predators: P.K. Subban
Pick a Predator, any Predator. The selection here is Subban for his all-around impact. He’s leading the team in scoring, he’s a mobile and physical defender, and he’s playing more than 24 minutes per night.

New Jersey Devils: Taylor Hall
He’s rolling along with points in 26 consecutive appearances – unfortunately he missed three games in the middle of his hot run so it doesn’t qualify as an official 26-game “streak,” per se. But it does qualify Hall as far and away the most valuable Devils player this season, not to mention a Hart Trophy candidate. With 74 points, Hall has 33 more than rookie Nico Hischier, the biggest gap in the league between a team’s first- and second-place scorer.

New York Islanders: John Tavares
The question, of course, is whether he’ll be the Isles’ MVP next season. And the season after that, and the season after that, and…

New York Rangers: Mats Zuccarello
Like a few other teams on this list, this one’s more by default than anything else. Zuccarello is the Rangers’ leading scorer among players who started the year with the club – Vladislav Namestnikov, who came over from Tampa Bay in the Ryan McDonagh deal, has officially taken over as New York’s top point man – and he plays more than any other forward, nearly 19 minutes per night. 

Ottawa Senators: Mark Stone
One of the very few bright spots in Ottawa this season. Stone leads the team with 61 points in 56 games and he’s their lone 20-goal man. He’s the only full-time Sens regular with a positive plus/minus – and he’s plus-11, while second-leading scorer Erik Karlsson is minus-28.

Philadelphia Flyers: Sean Couturier
Claude Giroux sits fourth overall in NHL scoring and Jakub Voracek is tied for the league lead in assists. But we’ll take the other other player on the Flyers’ top line, Couturier, who was thrust into a scoring role this season and has excelled as a two-way threat. His next goal will be his 30th of the season – his previous career-high was 15 – and he has a shot at doubling his career-high point total of 39.

Pittsburgh Penguins: Evgeni Malkin
Phil Kessel has been the Penguins’ most consistent offensive producer this season, and Sidney Crosby is, well, Sidney Crosby. But Malkin has been unstoppable for three-plus months. He has racked up 31 goals and 63 points in 42 games since Dec. 1, and could very well claim the Hart Trophy, Art Ross Trophy and Rocket Richard Trophy.

San Jose Sharks: Logan Couture
Before the arrival of Evander Kane at the trade deadline, Couture was the Sharks’ one and only 20-goal scorer – and with 27, he’s on pace for 30-plus for the first time since his sophomore season of 2011-12.

St. Louis Blues: Brayden Schenn
It’s a similar situation to the Flyers, Schenn’s former team. You could select any one of the three players on the top line and you’d have a worthy team MVP. Vladimir Tarasenko has a couple more goals than Schenn (26-24), while Jaden Schwartz would likely be the choice if he hadn’t missed 20 games due to injury. We’ll take Schenn, who bears the responsibility of being the Blues’ No. 1 center and he also brings a physical dimension. Not to mention, he’s on the verge of establishing career-highs in goals and points.

Tampa Bay Lightning: Nikita Kucherov
He has a chance to be the league’s wire-to-wire scoring leader, if he can hold off the likes of Malkin and McDavid. Kucherov’s offensive exploits made him the early favorite for the Hart Trophy and he’s still the best bet to win the award, though the race has tightened up over the past couple of months.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Auston Matthews
He’s missed 15 games and counting, but it’s impossible to deny Matthews as the team’s MVP. Despite the time on the sidelines, he leads the Leafs in goals (28), plus/minus (plus-23) and shooting percentage (17.5 percent). He’s the straw that stirs the drink in Toronto, their best player since Mats Sundin, and he represents the franchise’s renewed hope for its first Stanley Cup in more than half a century. No pressure, kid…

Vancouver Canucks: Brock Boeser
Too bad his season is over due to injury, but Boeser made it count when he was playing. He’ll likely end up as the league’s leading rookie goal-scorer with 29 in 62 games, and he might lead the Canucks in points with 55.

Vegas Golden Knights: Jonathan Marchessault
You can make a credible case for about a dozen Golden Knights players as the first-year team continues to defy expectations and make NHL expansion history. The pick here is Marchessault, who has been perpetually underrated and undervalued since he arrived in the NHL in 2013. He leads Vegas in scoring and ranks among the league leaders in points per 60 minutes.

Washington Capitals: Alex Ovechkin
Just when you think he’s out, he pulls you back in with a boatload of goals. The NHL leader with 40, Ovechkin is shooting for his seventh Rocket Richard Trophy and eighth 50-goal season.

Winnipeg Jets: Blake Wheeler
It might’ve been Mark Scheifele if he hadn’t missed a month, or Patrik Laine for his goal-scoring acumen, or Connor Hellebuyck for his Vezina-caliber efforts in net. But what about Wheeler? The Jets captain is a power forward and a playmaker, not to mention one of the most productive players in the league.