As of right now, Evgeni Malkin has battled through bumps, bruises and illness to play in all 72 of the Penguins games. And he's tallied 32 goals and 70 assists in this season. That easily beats Sidney Crosby's 92 points and Alex Ovechkin's 90 points. But what makes an MVP?
- Malkin is currently a +19. Ovechkin is a +9 and Crosby is a +7. Clear edge there to Geno if you're one to rank +/-.
- It's no secret the top skill players load up on power-play points. And Malkin has 35 points there (Ovechkin is the league leader with 38). But it's generally harder, and more impressive, to score points at even strength. Malkin has 65 ES points, Crosby has 58 and AO has 51. Clear edge there for Geno against his top two competitors.
- Evgeni Malkin leads the league with 86 takeaways, Alex Ovechkin leads the league with 97 giveaways. Those two stats are subjective, but with home and road games, it tends to even out.
- Shorthanded goals go 2 for Malkin, 1 for Ovechkin, and 0 for Crosby....Though none of them are regular PK'ers.
- Ovechkin has 10 game winners, Malkin has 3 and Crosby has 2. Though the concept of a "game winner" can be misleading depending on how each game sorts out. Even then, Malkin's constant line-mate, Petr Sykora has 9 game winners. Without tracking down the exact stat, I would guess that Geno has at least 7 assists (if not more) on those goals. Does that make Malkin's play any less valuable if he sets the table for his boy Sykora to get the GWG?
Overall, Malkin's up 10 points on Crosby and 12 points on Ovechkin right now. Is that enough to be most valuable? AO has 17 more goals than Geno, but Malk-money has 29 more assists. Where do you draw the line? Ovechkin has taken his team to a likely second straight Southeastern division championship, but Geno has been the constant in a rally to help the Pens overcome the dreaded Stanley Cup finalist curse.
This, that or another, there's still a bunch of hockey left to play, and all three will rack up some more points. But if the first 70 games have taught us anything, it's that Evgeni Malkin is clearly the class of his talented peers this season. There's a lot of ways to measure "value" but it would be tough to argue that the league's leading (and most consistent) scorer isn't the most valuable.