This season has seen nearly every team develop their unsung hero(es). It's time again to evaluate who means the most to their team. I've always felt that the Hart should encompass the regular season AND the playoffs, but the Conn Smythe isn't disappearing anytime soon. So, let's look at the candidates:
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1. Roberto Luongo, G, Vancouver
It's a safe bet to say that without this man, the Canucks would've been golfing a couple of weeks ago. He recorded 47 regular-season wins (2nd to Martin Brodeur) and started all but six games. He recorded 1,998 saves in 76 appearances (26.3 saves/game) and a GAA of 2.29. Luongo stood on his head all season long, and led the Canucks to a Northwest Division title.
2. Sidney Crosby, C, Pittsburgh
Just the name itself does him justice. Professional sports' youngest scoring champion in history at 19 helped engineer the Penguins' rise from bottom-dweller to contender. He recorded 120 regular-season points and wore the 'A' all season long better than most would have expected. Dispel the "faker" claims- it's out of jealousy. He's the most dynamic player the league has seen in nearly a decade, and has developed into a leadership role seen fit for players 10 years his senior. Sidney Crosby is not just valuable to his team, he is his team.
3. Martin Brodeur, G, New Jersey
The ageless wonder. Brodeur again dominated opponents this season, posting an NHL-best 48 regular-season wins and 12 shutouts in 78 appearances. He is the backbone of the New Jersey Devils, and it's a shame he doesn't wear the 'C.' Brodeur accumulated a 2.18 GAA and kept the Devils in games they had no business winning. Without Marty Brodeur, the Devils would be lucky to even sniff the playoffs.
4. Daniel Briere, C, Buffalo
This year's darkhorse candidate. On a team with so many superstar-caliber players, Briere had arguably a breakout season in 2006-07. He racked up 95 points (32 G, 63 A, 6 GWG) on an extremely offensive team, and developed into a calm, confident leader wearing the 'C.' He started all but one of Buffalo's regular-season contests and will be the hottest commodity come July 1st. Any team would be a better team after acquiring this guy.
Prediction: Roberto Luongo
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