One could make the argument that the Komets don’t just have the top early candidate for CHL MVP.
They may have the top two.
Goaltender Nick Boucher has received much of the publicity lately for his heroics. He leads the 14-team league in every major goaltending category: wins (18), goals-against average (2.21), save percentage (.925), shutouts (three) and games played (24), and he’s led the Komets to a league-best winning percentage of .732.
Coaches, reporters and CHL staff selected Boucher to start in the Jan. 11 All-Star Game at Prescott Valley, Ariz., which will pit a squad of all-stars against the host Sundogs.
Those same people will pick the MVP at the end of the season.
Although Boucher seems to be the early front-runner, don’t discount the contributions of all-star center Brett Smith, who is in his first season with the Komets after captaining Bossier-Shreveport to the CHL championship last season.
More impressive than his overall point production – he ranks 11th in goals with 13 and fifth in points with 38 – has been his consistency.
Smith has tallied at least one point in 24 of 28 games for the Komets (20-7-1), who have a six-point lead over Quad City for first place in the Turner Conference.
Fort Wayne plays today at league-worst Bloomington (9-18-2).
The league’s leading scorer, Rapid City’s Jesse Schultz, has also gone only four games without a point, en route to his 16 goals and 46 points in 29 games.
Allen’s Bruce Graham, who has 16 goals and 40 points, has a point in 24 of 29 games.
But Smith has a better plus/minus rating – plus-16 – than any of them.
Only defensemen Andrew Martens and Jarred Mohr of Wichita have better ratings, plus-20 and -17, respectively.
And bear in mind, Boucher was a member of the Komets last season, when they were in last place the first four months of the season and reached only the Turner Conference semifinals. The importation of Smith, an alternate captain, however, has been instrumental in the Komets’ rise. They are 20 points better than this time last season.