The obvious choices for an MVP for Team Canada so far are Sidney Crosby and Dany Heatley. The Pittsburgh superstar is one of the two most hyped players in the NHL right now (with Alexander Ovechkin), and both have done a good job of coming up big when asked both throughout the NHL regular season and again in the Olympic Games. Crosby is tied for the scoring lead for Canada with five points (two goals, three assists) with Heatley (four goals, one assist).
There have been so many outstanding performers on Canada’s roster, and yet the most valuable might be Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews.
Toews is just one point behind Heatley and Crosby with four points (all assists), but here is where the differences are between the two top scorers and Toews. First, Crosby and Heatley are playing heavier minutes than Toews. Crosby leads all Canadian forwards in ice time, averaging 17:34 per night, while Heatley is averaging 14:44 per game after three contests. Toews, on the other hand, is not only playing fewer minutes (13:42 ATOI), but he’s doing it flipping between his natural center position and wing, depending on what Babcock wants to do.
Another difference between Toews and Heatley and Crosby is that Toews hasn’t been whistled for a penalty yet in the tournament. Crosby took a penalty at a terrible time in the game against the United States on Sunday, and is tied with Eric Staal for the team high with four penalty minutes in the tournament. Heatley has served two penalty minutes to date.
However, the third and biggest difference between these three candidates for the team’s most valuable player is the team’s scoring margin while they’re on the ice. Crosby is -1 for the tournament so far, after finishing the US game -3 despite scoring a goal himself. Heatley, meanwhile, is just +1 for the tournament. Toews has the best plus/minus not only on team Canada, but his +4 is the best among all forward in the entire Olympic games. Only USA defensemen Bryan Rafalski and Ryan Suter, both +5, have a better rating in the entire tournament.
Toews has not been selfish, putting only five shots on net through three games. But when he’s been on the ice, he’s been productive and, more importantly, has kept Canada’s opposition off the board. He’s been a strong penalty killer for Babcock and has played a couple of positions without complaining.
If you look at the numbers, the most valuable player on Canada’s roster so far is Jonathan Toews.