Odds for San Jose Sharks' 2013-14 MVP
Last season, goalie Antti Niemi won the award, while Logan Couture captured it in 2011-12.
The odds of winning are based on how well each of these players performs and how important their performance is to the success of the Sharks.
Feel free to comment on these rankings and to suggest any players you feel belong in the top five. Please indicate why you feel your choice belongs as one of the top MVP candidates for the Sharks this season.
5. Dan Boyle
Dan Boyle is the Sharks' top puck-moving defenseman and quarterbacks the team's power play.
Last season, Boyle had seven goals and 20 points in 46 games with 13 of those points coming when the Sharks had the man-advantage.
Because the Sharks struggled to score at even strength last season, Boyle's work on the power play became even more important to the club's success.
Boyle has to be productive for the Sharks offense to put up good numbers.
He's in a contract year, which should give him some more inspiration.
MVP Odds: 22-1
4. Patrick Marleau
At 34, Patrick Marleau is starting to wind down his solid NHL career but he remains a dangerous player capable of dominating on any given night.
The only catch is he is not as consistent as he used to be. Marleau seems to catch fire for a week or so at a time and then disappear for games at a time and be kept off the score sheet.
Marleau is the all-time franchise leader in games played, goals and points. He is eligible to become a free agent this summer, so he certainly has a lot of incentive to prove to the Sharks or any other team in the league that he can still be a productive contributor.
Last year, Marleau scored 17 goals in 48 games, which would put him on pace for 29 over a full 82-game season.
If he improves on that slightly, Marleau has a shot at being the team's MVP. He will see plenty of ice time on the power play and in key scoring situations.
MVP Odds: 15-1
3. Brent Burns
Brent Burns had been a valuable cog in the San Jose attack, especially since he made the shift from defense to wing midway through last season.
In 23 games as a forward, Burns scored nine goals and 20 points last season according to the Sharks media guide.
If Burns can continue on a similar pace over the course of an 82-game schedule, he would score 32 goals and accumulate 71 points. If Burns does this, he would be a potential MVP candidate for the team.
Burns possesses a rare combination of size and speed that makes him a dangerous offensive weapon. He can also be used to screen opposing goalies, especially on the power play.
Shifting Burns to forward allowed San Jose to give more ice time to some of their younger defensemen and improved the team's overall talent level. Being able to continue this makes Burns a valuable contributor to the Sharks' success.
MVP Odds: 12-1
2. Logan Couture
Logan Couture is the Sharks' best young forward, and the best thing is that he probably still hasn't reached his full potential.
Couture has topped the 30-goal mark in each of the past two full seasons and was on pace to score more than 30 if last season had been a traditional 82-game campaign.
The 24-year-old native of London, Ontario, will see top-line minutes and plenty of time on the power play. Expect him to lead the Sharks in goals again this season, and if all breaks well for him, he should approach or even exceed 40 goals.
Couture is likely a future captain of this team and their most dangerous offensive weapon.
MVP Odds: 10-1
1. Antti Niemi
Goalie Antti Niemi is the overwhelming favorite to be MVP of the San Jose Sharks this season. No other player is as vital to the club's success than the 30-year-old Finnish netminder.
Niemi had the best season of his career last year, finishing with a 24-12-6 mark, a 2.16 GAA and a save percentage of .924. He was a finalist for the Vezina Trophy as the league's top netminder.
The Sharks did not re-sign backup Thomas Greiss, so Niemi's understudies this year have a total of three games of NHL experience between them. That means the Sharks will be relying on Niemi to carry the team back into contention.
Expect Niemi to start at least 70 games this season if he stays healthy. He will need to play well over the course of the season if San Jose hopes to be Stanley Cup contenders this spring.
MVP Odds: 4-1
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