Steve Stamkos is on his way to a 60-plus goal, 100-plus point season, but if the Tampa Bay Lightning do not make the play-offs those credentials will not add up as the league's most valuable player.
Mediocrity of Tampa Bay Lightning lowers value of leading scorer in NHL
Should a player be considered for the MVP award if his team missed the play-offs?
Steven Stamkos, the Tampa Bay Lightning's shooting star, appears to be a certainty to be the league's leading goalscorer this season, and he could easily pass Evgeni Malkin in the scoring race, too.
But the Lightning are long shots to make the play-offs.
Steve Yzerman, the Tampa Bay general manager, was a seller at the deadline, trading away veterans in exchange for prospects and draft picks in anticipation of the Lightning finishing outside the top eight in the Eastern Conference.
So, if Stamkos's season ends in early April, should he be considered an MVP candidate?
Can a player be considered the NHL's most valuable if his team fails to qualify for the play-offs?
Stamkos has a chance of scoring 60 goals - the last NHL player to do that was Alex Ovechkin, when he scored 65 in 2007/08 - and more than 100 points.
Tampa's failings have been defence and goaltending; should Stamkos be overlooked because some of his teammates didn't hold up their end of the bargain?
The short answer is, Stamkos deserves to be an MVP front-runner.
While he pursues 60 goals, it's doubtful that any other NHL player will hit 50.
But since the Lightning have struggled this season, the reality is that he'll likely finish behind Malkin, and there's a chance he won't even be nominated.
In the NHL, even individual trophies come with the qualifier of team success.