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Minnesota Wild MVP Candidate: Mikko Koivu

Making the case for the Kaptain, Mikko Koivu as the Minnesota Wild's 2015-16 team MVP.

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Here's a pick that is sure to draw attention from the endless sea of Koivu haters. The unsubstantiated hate tickles my funny bone and has been a personal source of entertainment for years. Is there a reason for it? Not really. There are many theories, but nothing that makes much sense if you apply rational thought behind it.

koivu captain

For the first time since the 2006-2007, Mikko Koivu played in all 82 games this past season. He did play all 48 games in the 2012-2013 season which was shortened by a lockout. Durability has never really been a big concern for the kaptain. He's had a long career in the NHL and has certainly had his share of bumps and bruises, but to play in all 82 this season shows a kind of stability in the lineup, and especially at a position where the team lacks depth. An injury in the wrong position can send just about any team into a tailspin, so having Koivu around for all 82 was essential for the team this season.

Koivu has also enjoyed one of his better seasons in recent memory. With 56 points on the back of 17 goals and 39 assists, it's the best we've seen from the kaptain since the 2010-2011 season. Those 56 points, they were only good enough to place him first on the squad as well. Fans were clamoring for a rebound year out of Koivu, and the guy delivered. With 10 power play goals on the season, Koivu led the Wild on special teams in that department and his 20 power play points was second to only Ryan Suter, the power play assist machine.

Koivu's average of 19:55 minutes per game was also the tops on the team among all Wild forwards. Nobody was entrusted more during the course of a game, in any situation than Koivu and for good reason too. Koivu certainly isn't the flashiest guy on the ice, but night in and night out you know the kind of effort your going to get out of him. There was an old website out there where you were asked a simple question: Is Ryan Suter on the ice? You could make this same concept and apply it to Mikko Koivu, because chances are pretty strong that he's on the ice.

Koivu, being a center, takes quite a few faceoffs throughout the course of a game. Koivu is no slouch in the dot. He won 56.1% of his draws. Now some out there like to devalue faceoffs in a game. I'm personally not one of those people. Winning a draw in any zone is important to moving the offense forward. Winning an offensive zone draw if even more important, and in the defensive zone; I cannot stress enough how important a draw in the defensive zone is. Koivu won 58.6% of his offensive zone draws and 54% of his defensive draws. Overall, Koivu was 4th in the NHL on the season with 987 faceoff wins and his 56.1% faceoff win percentage was good enough for 8th in the league among skaters with over 1000 draws under their belt.

Mikko Koivu is also well respected by his teammates. While fans question his leadership on an almost daily basis, his teammates and the coaching staff stand with confidence behind the kaptain. He might not lead the league in points, or be the speediest guy on the ice, but he's a guy who in the locker room, when he speaks, people listen. He's a veteran hockey player who has a lot of experience, and a lot of knowledge to bestow on the up and comers on the team.

oh kaptain my kaptain

A picture is worth a thousand words, isn't it?

There hasn't been a lot to get excited about with this team in the last few months. Mikko Koivu has quietly been a consistent driving force behind the offense as well as one of the most responsible defensive presences among NHL forwards. On a team that has seen it's effort level steadily swirling around the drain, we haven't heard a whole lot about Koivu taking shifts off or just completely losing interest in a game. Koivu leads the team in several categories, he is a leader, the team kaptain, and while the Wild certainly limped into the playoffs, without Koivu's effort out there this team would be in an entirely different world. Like, the draft lottery.

So it is for these reasons and more, we've nominated Mikko Koivu for the Minnesota Wild's 2015-2016 team MVP.