It’s March, and the Dallas Stars are in the Stanley Cup playoffs conversation as more than an outside-lane candidate for the second wild-card spot. So of course – of course – we need to talk about which players could enter the postseason awards conversation.
But before we can talk about which member of the Victory Green Gang could walk off with the Hart Trophy, we need to talk about who’s been the most valuable player to the team itself. The Athletic’s Saad Yousuf has identified five players who could fill the bill:
Determining value to a team is a tricky conversation because the interpretation is subjective. Is this the “best” player on the team? If so, Miro Heiskanen wins on the Stars. Is it the top goalscorer? [Jason] Robertson leads with 29 goals. Is it the top offensive producer? Joe Pavelski is tops there. Is it the best two-way forward? Roope Hintz would like to have a word. Is it the player who is relied upon most heavily to tilt the scoreboard? Jake Oettinger has a strong case.
There are other factors beyond production, too, such as timing, durability, consistency and team success. All of these things combine to provide value but who is most valuable, individually, is where things get interesting.
Yet as crucial as Oettinger and Heiskanen have been to the Stars, the history of the league MVP award shows it to be a forwards-only honor – in deed, if not in word:
...For whatever case Oettinger has in terms of his value to the Stars, goaltenders rarely win the Hart. Since 1962, only two goaltenders have won the Hart and it came three times in a six-year span when Dominik Hasek won it twice in 1996-97 and 1997-98 and then Jose Theodore won in 2001-02. Even if a goaltender was to be considered this season, all other netminders would fall short to Igor Shesterkin’s season in New York.
Heiskanen falls under a similar conundrum, as Chris Pronger in 1999-00 is the only defenseman to have won the award since 1972. Goaltenders and defensemen have their own distinguished awards in the Vezina and Norris, respectively. Again, the definition comes under scrutiny because the best goaltender or best defensemen shouldn’t be mutually exclusive to the most valuable player to their team, but that’s how it’s been.
There’s more behind the paywall. [The Athletic DFW]
Aren’t we all still trying to figure out how to watch a ding-dang Stars game? This may help.
Jason Robertson’s first First Star of the Week. They grow up so fast....
⭐ @JasonRob1999 led the NHL with 7 goals last week, highlighted by consecutive hat tricks and game-winning goals. He was the second in franchise history to post back-to-back hat tricks, joining Bill Goldsworthy (March 16-21, 1971 w/ MNS).#NHLStats: https://t.co/pK5j52SDf6 pic.twitter.com/mDSfFZptGb— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) March 7, 2022
Riley Tufte came back from Minnesota with a pretty awesome souvenir, too.
Want to chat with Matt? The Dallas Morning News’ main hockey mind is taking your questions.
Let's do a mailbag for later this week. The Stars are right in the middle of a playoff race in the Central Division, drop your questions below.— Matthew DeFranks (@MDeFranks) March 7, 2022
Around The Leagues
In On The #Kill Taker
Colorado Avalanche outdueled the New York Islanders 5-4 https://t.co/ryN0d7QSCs— Mile High Hockey (@MileHighHockey) March 8, 2022
The Kyiv-born and U.S.-naturalized agent who represents most of the NHL’s Russian players says his clients are being harassed at home, on the road, and even in the locker room.
Dan Milstein (@HockeyAgent1) says Russian NHL players are experiencing significant harassment & draft-eligible players are already being discriminated against.— Emily Kaplan (@emilymkaplan) March 1, 2022
"People need to be aware that this is going on. This is racism & it needs to stop."
All this is happening while the NHL is ramping up its efforts to cut ties with the Russian Federation.
League tells its teams to cease contact with KHL counterparts and Russia-based agents https://t.co/YPeT66pxDs— Hockey Night in Canada (@hockeynight) March 8, 2022
Meanwhile, in Czechia, a king is gonna king.
Dear fans all around the hockey world, please support refugees running out from war in Ukraine. Buy 68 CZK (2,90 USD) virtual ticket(s) for the Kladno’s game in O2 arena vs. Sparta. People need help and this is a tool. Thank you very much. Jaromir Jagr 68 pic.twitter.com/vWwv6wY7ga— Jaromir Jagr (@68Jagr) March 8, 2022
Greetings From Scenic Cedar Park
A four-game week for the Texas Stars begins tonight.
There’s never an overdose of that wholesome Robo content. Enjoy.