[Ed. note, 2:49: The post originally went up at 2:00, but we felt it was prudent to reset to the poll and throw in this editorial note: The question here is which player has been more valuable to the 2008-09 Washington Capitals, not who's the better overall player, who will have the better career, or who would be the better pick if all the teams were drafting anew. It's simply a question of whether, all else being equal, the Washington Capitals would be a better team this season with Green but not Ovechkin, or Ovechkin but not Green.]
Ask a Capitals fan who the best player in the world is as you're overwhelmingly likely to get Alexander Ovechkin as your response, and with good cause: Ovechkin dominated the league last season, won the Hart Trophy in a runaway vote,and is continuing to not only rack up points this season but to tally them when it counts most. However a recent article by Tom Awad of Puck Prospectus, an offshoot of legendary think tank and publication group Baseball Prospectus, contends that Mike Green, not Ovechkin, may be 2008-09's Most Valuable Capital, on the basis of a statistics called Goals Versus Threshold, an objective metric that Awad likens to Value Over Replacement Player.
The idea's not as crazy as it might seem at first. After all, Ovechkin is fourth in the league in points per game among forwards while Green not only leads defensemen in points per game and scoring but leads in points per game by the same amount that separates second place from thirtieth. In addition, Green plays more on the penalty kill and plays a position where the Capitals have significantly less depth. Despite this, we were ready to call this one for Ovechkin a couple weeks ago, when the team came out completely flat against the Maple Leafs on home ice. But the Green-less team's recent poor showing against Atlanta and having to contemplate the possibility of an extended stretch without Green in the lineup is making us think the race isn't nearly as clear cut as it seemed at the beginning of the month. So just who is the Capitals 2008-09 MVP?
Solely by the numbers, here's how the two stack up:
|Alexander Ovechkin||Mike Green|
|Points Per Game||1.33||1.07|
|Pts/G Rank - Position||4th||1st|
|Team Record Without||1-2-0||7-7-0|