If you pay attention to most hockey media, you’re hearing names like Jonathan Toews and Henrik Lundqvist as mid season frontrunners for the Hart Trophy, awarded annually to the National Hockey League’s MVP. By definition, the Hart Trophy is to be awarded to “the player adjudged most valuable to his team”. While a strong argument could be made for the aforementioned Toews and Lundqvist, I can think of one guy who eclipses both in value to their team. Just one problem: Most hockey writers are in bed before his team plays their home games.
In my mind, it’d be difficult to say there’s anybody more valuable to their team than Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings. At press time, the Kings sit just two points out of first place in their division (and 3rd overall in the West). Quick has posted 20 of the teams 23 wins, and sits in the top 5 in the NHL in goals against average (1.95), save percentage (.934), wins (20) and leads the entire league in shutouts with 6 – 3 of those coming consecutively back in October. And he’s done it all behind the lowest scoring team in the entire league.
Quick has given up 2 goals or less in 24 of his 39 starts. He hasn’t allowed more than 4 goals in a single game even once this season. He has 12 wins in games where the Kings have scored two goals or fewer. No goalie in the league is under more pressure to perform on a nightly basis.
He’s one of the league’s absolute best goalies, and at this point, probably the frontrunner to start in goal for the US at the 2014 Winter Olympics (provided NHL players are allowed to play).
It’s certainly possible, given their talent laden roster, that LA will increase their scoring before the season ends. Dean Lombardi has built a stable of young defenders that will carry high value on the trade market, and he will likely deal for a sniper on or before the trade deadline. That said, if the Kings meager offensive output continues and the team wins their division (highly possible if not likely), I don’t think that any other player in the league can be said to have been as valuable to his team.
Let’s just hope some of the hockey media decide to stay up and watch.