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Elite League Power Rankings: Each team’s midseason most valuable player

It’s safe to say that the best netminder in the Elite League is the Sheffield Steelers’ MVP, but who else makes our list?

Marcus Crawford, Cardiff Devils (Image: James Assinder)

With the Elite League’s transfer deadline in the rearview mirror, it’s time for another edition of British Ice Hockey’s EIHL Power Rankings.

In this edition of the column, we’ll dive into each team’s most valuable player – albeit with the usual caveat that there is still plenty of hockey to be played down the stretch.

For some teams, picking one player is easy because they stand head and shoulders above their teammates. For others – either because there are too many options or the team has slumped – it’s much trickier.

Either way, here are the Elite League’s post-transfer deadline MVPs.

Sheffield Steelers: Matthew Greenfield, Netminder

It’s safe to say that the best netminder in the Elite League is the Sheffield Steelers’ MVP.

Time after time, Matthew Greenfield continues to show what a game-changer he can be. Just look at his latest showing, against the Dundee Stars on Sunday [4 March]. The American produced a 42-save performance to stymie the Stars and ensure that Sheffield returned to winning ways following their defeat to the Manchester Storm a night earlier.

Elite League MVP: Matthew Greenfield, Sheffield Steelers (Image: Dean Woolley)

Elite League MVP: Matthew Greenfield, Sheffield Steelers (Image: Dean Woolley)

Greenfield has been lights out over the last five games, recording a .937 save percentage and 2.00 goals-against average.

The 29-year-old is reliable in all situations and has barely put a foot wrong this season, allowing his teammates to focus on being offensively dominant.

Despite playing behind the best team in the Elite League, Greenfield has already faced almost a thousand shots due to the amount of ice time handed his way.

We’re not talking about a small sample size, here. Greenfield has been a class above this season.

Cardiff Devils: Marcus Crawford, Defenceman

Marcus Crawford is the only defenceman amongst the Elite League’s top thirty-six scorers, an achievement made even more impressive by the fact that he ranks sixth overall and leads the Cardiff Devils in points.

Crawford, despite being a point-per-game player last season, has clicked into an even higher gear this term, with 46 points (two goals, 44 assists) in 42 games.

The Canadian’s average ice time is an absurd 24:21, playing key minutes for Pete Russell in all situations.

Offensive production aside, Crawford is also exceptional defensively and rarely puts his team on the penalty kill, making him Cardiff’s obvious MVP candidate.

Belfast Giants: Ben Lake, Forward

Ben Lake’s 31 points (12 goals, 19 assists) in 35 games places him second on the Belfast Giants in scoring (fourth in goals, second in assists) – which is a remarkable demonstration of his team’s struggles this season.

In previous years, Lake would be nowhere near the Giants’ MVP conversation – but the Team Great Britain forward has been a standout performer this time around.

Elite League MVP: Ben Lake, Belfast Giants (Image: William Cherry)

Elite League MVP: Ben Lake, Belfast Giants (Image: William Cherry)

Playing important middle-six minutes, Adam Keefe has relied heavily on Lake – who has developed into a face-off circle force (471:322) in all situations.

Guildford Flames: Lewis Hook, Forward

The Guildford Flames wouldn’t be fourth in the standings without Lewis Hook.

The 27-year-old has already surpassed his record tallies for goals, assists, and points in a season, developing into one of the best two-way forwards in the Elite League.

Hook has also been instrumental to Guildford’s improved form on the powerplay, scoring eight of his 15 goals on the man-advantage.

The Team GB forward has also made his mark at five-on-five, with his play alongside Brett Ferguson and Ryan Tait on Paul Dixon’s second line piquing interest across the Elite League.

Manchester Storm: Evan Weninger, Netminder

Evan Weninger is the only Elite League netminder who can credibly claim to have outperformed Greenfield this season – and he actually has a very strong case.

The Canadian’s .928 save percentage and 2.56 goals-against average are in the same ballpark as the numbers posted by Greenfield, despite playing behind a significantly leakier defence and facing 300 more shots.

With the Storm only seven points above the playoff line, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to argue that Weninger’s form could turn out to be the difference between Manchester making and missing the postseason.

Stay tuned for part two of our Elite League MVP series, featuring the Coventry Blaze, Glasgow Clan, Dundee Stars, Fife Flyers, and Nottingham Panthers.

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