Colby’s Corner Meets Connor will be a four part series, where Connor Keith and I (Colby) will pick, by division, the MVP of the forwards, defensemen and a goalies. This week, the two of us will discuss the Atlantic Division.
Connor: Steven Stamkos
Stamkos is my choice for top forward in the division, based almost solely on his goals scored. As of the time of my writing this, he has 36 goals, tying him for fourth in the league and first in the division. Although that is only one more tally than Brad Marchand, Stamkos’ 64 points is eight clear of Marchand’s efforts.
What also separates the two is the expectations placed upon each. Boston is not 100% dependent on the success of Marchand. They have Patrice Bergeron and Loui Eriksson, who combine to score 56 goals before Marchand adds his 35 tallies. In Tampa Bay, the only other skater with more than 15 goals is Nikita Kucherov, meaning that Stamkos’ efforts are even more vital on the offensive end for his club.
Colby: Jaromir Jagr
This may surprise some people, but I think the ageless wonder needs a lot of credit for where these young Florida Panthers are. The 44-year-old legend has another 60 plus points this season. Jagr is top 25 in the league in points this season and he is a huge part of one of the strongest lines in the league this year – that line being Jagr, Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov. I wouldn’t say his numbers are what makes him an MVP; his experience and age are why I am handing him the MVP of the division. It’s also hard to argue with Stamkos’s numbers as Connor pointed out. But if we went by players’ actions, Stamkos’ contract issues and the fact he may leave, I will take my leader in Jagr.
I don’t think there is much question here. Erik Karlsson is by far the best defenseman in this division and the reason there is no argument is because of 63: the number of assists this beast has this year. However, the only issue I have with him is the horrible plus minus he has, a measly plus 2. This reminds me of Alex Ovechkin from a few seasons ago, who led the league for worst plus minus.
Ottawa has an issue to solve, as they still haven’t found a good partner for Karlsson in their organization. If Ottawa can find that player, the Senators would probably have the 3rd division spot this year. Instead, they and the rest of the Canadian teams are golfing. Or maybe curling; isn’t there still snow and ice up there?
Connor: Victor Hedman
It’s another Bolt for my defensive pick. Colby and I both agree that Erik Karlsson is the best in the division, but I want to bring a different look to the situation than simply both of us agreeing here. I think Victor Hedman is a valid choice to complete the pair with Karlsson. His 36 assists lead his squad, and he has the third most points (44) for a +23 on the year. On the other end, his 130 blocks lead the Lightning by a solid margin.
Connor: Ben Bishop
I hate to pick all Lightning, but Bishop is probably the easiest of these three choices. He ranks second best in the league in both GAA (2.02) and save percentage (.928), giving him 33 wins (tied for sixth most), six of which were shutouts (tied for second most). After falling in the Stanley Cup Finals a year ago, he is one of, if not the reason Tampa has no tee times scheduled anytime soon.
I am selecting another Florida goalie, however this one is from the Panthers. I think Bishop is a strong candidate for this position, but Luongo is another goalie whose numbers are very similar. Luongo has 32 wins in the season and a .921 save percentage. Both of these goalies are tops in the league; I think handing out an MVP to either one would be fair. I think the numbers from earlier in the year would give the advantage to Luongo. However, late in the season, he is slowing down as he grows another year older, which is affecting his play.