The case for Ryan Kesler as MVP
The Canucks' star is the hockey equivalent of a five-tool talent
In baseball, a five-tool player is one who excels at batting for average, hitting for power, running the bases, throwing with power and precision, and fielding his position. In other words, five-tool players have the ability to be dominant in every aspect of their game.
What elements would define a five-tool player in hockey? Clearly, speed would be included, along with scoring ability, creativity, playmaking skills and effective defense. Having an imposing physical presence is important as well.
While discussion about "complete" hockey players is common, it's hard to immediately identify any flawless players in today's NHL. Henrik Sedin was the NHL's MVP in 2009-10, but speed and physical prowess don't define his game. Alex Ovechkin has won the MVP award, but defense doesn't come to mind when describing his game. Another former MVP, Sidney Crosby, is described as the prototypical complete player, but even he is continuing to develop the weaker parts of his game (he's averaging only 28 seconds per game this season for penalty-killing duties).
However, there is one player who fits the criteria of a five-tool hockey player perfectly: Ryan Kesler of the Vancouver Canucks. While he doesn't yet have the name-brand quality of Crosby or Ovechkin, his all-around game can't be ignored -- and his play in the first half of the season merits MVP award consideration.
For the full take on why Ryan Kesler might be the NHL's MVP this season, become an ESPN Insider today.
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