As we pass the halfway mark of the 2009-10 NHL season, the Nashville Predators have put together an impressive campaign thanks to excellent coaching, good goaltending, and great balance. Perhaps no one has impressed more, though, than young winger Patric Hornqvist. A bit of a disappointment last year, Hornqvist has more than exceeded expectations thus far. Continue below where his season is detailed and we look at a few other candidates for the Preds' top performer of the first 40 odd games...
|2009 - Patric Hornqvist||13||9||22||10||14|
Hornqvist has given opposing goaltenders nightmares this season, continually parking in the crease and screening shots. Quite a few of his 13 goals have come from textbook tip-ins or fortuitous deflections. As the old saying goes, good things happen when you go to the front of the net, and Patric has proven that repeatedly, even willing to stare down a Shea Weber slap shot.
Hornqvist has also shown impressive versatility, prospering with any line combination the coaches have placed him on. He's scored with everyone he's skated with, playing as hard with Arnott and Sullivan as with Jones and Santorelli. While not as sound defensively as Joel Ward, he fights the battles that don't show up in the stat sheet just as hard. His 13 goals are second on the Predators only to Martin Erat, and his +10 and 123 shots lead the team. The combination of Patric's scoring touch and hustle won him a spot on the Swedish Olympic team, and are what makes him my choice for the Nashville Predators' 1st-half MVP.
Lets quickly look at a couple of other players who could be considered:
|2009 - Martin Erat||14||13||27||-5||26|
Marty started the year slow, but thanks to a huge December, has rebounded well to take the team lead in goals. Erat's frustrating inconsistency has disappeared for the most part, and made way for Top-6 production from a guy who is paid to do just that. The verdict may still be out, however, with Erat out another few games with a sprained knee.
|2009 - David Legwand||10||16||26||0||14|
In making an MVP choice, David Legwand is the guy who made the decision difficult. Legwand is the center on the ice in the opposing team's zone when Coach Trotz wants to shut down the NHL's top players and when the game is on the line. While being Nashville's best defensive center, he's equally clutch offensively with 3 game winning goals so far this year. David has picked up his offensive game considerably in the last few months to make him the Predators' top two way player, coming in 2nd on the team in points behind Erat. Legwand has personified Nashville's season to date.
|2009 - Shea Weber||7||16||23||3||26|
For much of the season, the Predators' franchise defenseman's statistics have suffered due to a foot injury he sustained early in the season. However, a partially healthy Weber has proved to be better than most NHL defensemen as he continued his dominant presence in the lineup by routinely shutting down top-flight opponents, serving up vicious shots from the point and providing physical leadership on the ice. Against Anaheim on Saturday Weber put forth a masterful performance in which he scored, assisted on the game winning goal, registered 10 shots on goal, and finished a +2. Predator fans hope that it signaled the return of a completely healthy Weber, which certainly bodes ill for the rest of the league.
Did I overlook something crucial? Disagree with me? Post your opinion in the comments below!