Silver Nuggets: Jason Spezza in Hart Trophy conversation

Today in the Ottawa Sun, Don Brennan looked at the terrific season that Jason Spezza's having for the Ottawa Senators this season, and pondered something that's gained a lot more traction recently: Is the Senators All-Star centre in the running for the Hart Trophy as the league's most valuable player to his team?

He certainly has been over the last five games, in which Spezza has 13P (5G, 8A) for Ottawa. The streak has been instrumental in the Sens' current 3-0-1 streak, and has pushed Spezza way up in the scoring race--he's currently sitting fourth in the league in points with 63P (25G, 38A) in 60GP.

Quite simply, his importance to the team boils down to this: When Spezza's playing well, the team wins. When he's not, the team loses. And this season, the Sens have been winning more than losing, in large part due to Spezza's production.

Obviously, there are other players of import for Ottawa's success. Erik Karlsson's having a historic season, and should set some franchise records this year. Daniel Alfredsson's playing like a much younger man. Milan Michalek's finally stayed healthy, so success has come in droves. And Craig Anderson's carrying more than his fair share of the workload in net.

But even when those four are on their games, the team needs Jason Spezza to be playing his best to win games. And that's the best indicator for an MVP. His game has risen to a new level this season; aside from the scoring, Spezza's a much more responsible player. He's not committing as many dangerous giveaways, and when he does he's committing to backchecking regularly. More than ever, he's a leader and an example on the team.

Still, there are plenty of other very good candidates out there: Evgeni Malkin, Claude Giroux, Henrik Lundqvist, Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Sedin, and even Phil Kessel need to be in the conversation.

Links after the jump.

Senators headlines:

  • Tim Wharnsby looks at the "swiftly rebuilt" Ottawa Senators during the lead-up to the trade deadline. I love the story's lede: "The Senators haven't won a playoff series since they lost to the Anaheim Ducks in the 2006-07 Stanley Cup final." Actually, the Senators haven't won a playoff series since they beat the Buffalo Sabres in the 2007 Eastern Conference final. How does this oversight make it to publication? (CBC)
  • Their father-son road trip is over, but the Senators are heating up again. (Citizen)
  • The good news: Scott Cullen considers Kyle Turris to be a "big-name NHL scorer." The bad news: He's currently mired in an ugly, ugly slump. (TSN)
  • On our consistent captain Daniel Alfredsson. (Sun)
  • Kaspars Daugavins sounds like one of the best teammates a pro can ask for, at least based on this pre-game warmup soccer competition anecdote. "Newwwwwww playyyyerrrr!" (Sun)
  • Although we've already heard about Andre Petersson's candid comments about Binghamton, this is new: The newspaper layout billed to difference between NHL and AHL as Himmel & Helvete: Heaven and Hell. (The 6th Sens)
  • Veterans Tim Conboy and Mark Parrish are poised to return to the Binghamton Senators lineup. (Press & Sun Bulletin)

Other headlines:

  • A look at the tight playoff race in the East, and the tough position the Toronto Maple Leafs' four-game losing skid put them in. (Toronto Star)
  • The Philadelphia Flyers acquired Nicklas Grossman from the Dallas Stars in exchange for a second- and a third-round draft pick. If that's the asking price for a middle-pairing defender, I highly doubt the Sens will be getting in on the action. (Broad Street Hockey)
  • Also setting the market was the San Jose Sharks' acquisition of Dominic Moore from the Tampa Bay Lightning for a second- and a seventh-round pick (curiously, the deal went down just hours before the two teams faced off against one another, so Moore walked from one dressing room to the other). That's a pretty steep price for a player who's a borderline second-line centreman. (Fear the Fin)
  • And hey, look, Seattle might get an NHL team. (Raw Charge)
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