We’ve just about reached the halfway point of the NHL season. That means it’s fair game to think about mid-season award picks.

It’s almost a given that Connor McDavid is the runaway Hart Trophy winner right now, whether the Oilers make the playoffs or not. He’s just too far ahead of anyone else. But the Roundtable question this week is…Who is the closest challenger to McDavid in the MVP race? If you couldn’t vote for McDavid, who are you picking so far this season?

MATT LARKIN: I’m a Tage Thompson convert. It’s been a while since I remember one player putting a team on his back like this. The Sabres, who appeared to be heading for their usual mid-season swoon, have won 10 of their past 14 games. During that span, he has 16 goals. Yes, 16 goals in 14 games. And 27 points. His blend of size, hands, speed and shooting ability make him one of the most unique players to exist in this league in ages. Whether it’s Lemieux or Lindros, no comparison quite fits, so maybe we should stop trying to find one. There has never been a player exactly like Thompson. And that’s why he’s so valuable to me, maybe the second-most valuable player this season next to McJesus.