There are two ways to approach this post right now. I could ask which player deserves the Bobby Clarke Trophy as Flyers most valuable player this year, or I could ask who on the Flyers deserves a nod for the Hart Memorial Trophy as League MVP.
Obviously, none of this current crop of Flyers is going to win the Hart, but I'm asking for this reason. The SBN hockey bloggers are throwing together lists of who we think should win each major NHL award (Hart, Norris, Selke, Vezina, Calder) from our teams, just like we did a year ago. Essentially, such a question is asking 'who is the Flyers MVP?' or 'who is the Flyers best defenseman?' so the logistics of such a question are kind of intriguing.
In any event, we're asking because we simply don't know who to pick. There could be a solid case made for several players on this year's Flyers team and we need help deciding. You see the poll below, but before voting, make the jump with us and read the case for each player we believe deserves a look.
#20 / Defenseman / Philadelphia Flyers
Oct 10, 1974
|2009 - Chris Pronger||76||10||43||53||23||75||5||0||2||0||163||6.1|
Chris Pronger has been everything as advertised since coming to the Flyers in a Draft Day trade last June. He leads Flyers defensemen in scoring, Corsi, quality of competition and just about every other category. And if he's not leading any particular stats category, it's likely that Matt Carle is. That's also a direct impact of Pronger's play this season. He's turned Carle into a stud in his own right.
#17 / Center / Philadelphia Flyers
Jan 01, 1985
|2009 - Jeff Carter||72||33||27||60||3||38||11||2||6||0||310||10.6|
Jeff Carter is the Flyers leading scorer, and the guy we picked to win this award a year ago. He didn't actually win the honor of the Bobby Clarke Trophy -- that went to Mike Richards -- but either way, we thought he deserved it.
This year, we'll use the same justification as last, but it's even more important this time around. Take Carter's 33 goals out of the lineup and this team -- which hasn't scored consistently all season long -- and we're pretty screwed. Last year, taking Carter's near 50 goals out of the lineup would, needless to say, have been bad. But this season, with Scott Hartnell slumping and Danny Briere slumping and Claude Giroux not performing to expectations and Joffrey Lupul elsewhere and Mike Knuble elsewhere?
That's frightening to think about, which is why most of us weren't exactly happy when Carter went down to injury.
#18 / Center / Philadelphia Flyers
Feb 11, 1985
|2009 - Mike Richards||76||28||30||58||-1||79||13||1||3||0||218||12.8|
On the flip side of Carter, there's Mike Richards, who actually has just five goals less than team-leading Carter. On top of Richards' scoring acumen, there's his defensive play. He plays against the second toughest competition among Flyers forwards and starts in the defensive zone much more often than in the offensive zone.
Add all of Pierre McGuire's intangibles -- leadership, grit, determination, leading by example -- and losing Mike Richards might just be worse than losing Carter.
#49 / Goalie / Philadelphia Flyers
May 19, 1981
|2009 - Michael Leighton||34||1799||17||9||85||2.83||899||814||.905||1|
You can't have the discussion of player's most valuable to this year's Flyers without bringing up Michael Leighton. Is he the best goaltender in the world or even on the team? No, he's not. Did his presence and his play on this team save them from a complete loss of a season?
Yes, yes it did. You can't deny Leighton's success with the Flyers. You just can't. There are no two ways of putting it. He's given up softies, he's looked terrible, but in the end, he won the Flyers 16 games this season when they needed them the most.
It's voting time. Hopefully you actually read the case for each player here instead of voting before the jump. Shame on you, if that's the case. But if you followed the rules, the poll magically appears below here. Vote, and share your opinions in the comments.