Although we're only at the quarter pole of the 2007-08 campaign, players are beginning to distinguish themselves as contenders for the NHL's season-end hardware. Here's a look at the Fall favorites:
No knock on the defending champ, but there are more compelling candidates in the early going than
Alfredsson would earn a lot of voter support for his exemplary two-way play (three shorties among his team-leading 16 goals). Kovalchuk has revved up his snarl since being unmuzzled by the dismissal of
Two of last season's four finalists --
But to this point, the preseason favorites have been roundly outplayed by
Gerber's finally giving Ottawa the goaltending they paid for when they signed him as a free agent in the summer of 2006. With playoff hero
The easy thing to do would be to cede this one to the defending champ.
He may be mired in a four-game scoring drought, but 19-year-old
Although he's unlikely to put up the numbers he'd need to out-poll Kane, Atlanta defender
Brind'Amour and Alfredsson earn their MVP acclaim by being as reliable on the defensive end as they are on the attack.
This award tends to overlook the work done by established coaches of strong squads in favor of those whose undermanned teams exceed expectations. So let's give a quick tip of the cap to the fine work of
Waddell stepped behind the bench on Oct. 17 after firing the 0-6 Hartley. Since then, the Thrashers have played a more wide-open style that better suits the talent on hand, resulting in an 11-6 mark under his command. Murray has the Blues playing five games over .500 and right in the middle of the playoff race. Nolan has seamlessly integrated a raft of new, mostly low-profile players into his demanding system while keeping a team with a popgun offense afloat in the extremely competitive Atlantic.