David Pastrnak, who turns 24 on Memorial Day, is tied for the NHL lead in goals with 48 and should have plenty of chances to be named the NHL’s MVP. Chris O’Mear/Associated Press

Boston’s four teams have combined for 12 championships this century, titles achieved with team-oriented play on turf, grass, parquet and ice.

Yet even the most together squads don’t claim the ultimate prize without star power, although only five or six regular season MVPs went to Boston athletes this century. The discrepancy depends on whether you want to count the Hart Trophy won in 2005-06 by Joe Thornton, traded from the Bruins to the Sharks 23 games into the season. So we’ll call it five.

Tom Brady won three (2007, 2010, 2017). Dustin Pedroia was American League MVP in 2008, Mookie Betts in 2018.

Brady is with the Buccaneers, Betts with the Dodgers. Chances don’t look good that Pedroia will be able to overcome knee woes to resume his career, so the next Boston MVP winner won’t be a repeat selection. The four teams have boasted 37 MVPs, won by 21 athletes, not counting Thornton.

The multi-year MVPs: Bill Russell (five), Eddie Shore (four), Larry Bird (three), Brady (three), Bobby Orr (three), Phil Esposito (two), Ted Williams (two) and Bill Cowley (two).

The 22nd athlete from one of Boston’s four teams to win regular-season MVP? Here’s a look at the candidates, listed in order of the probability:

1. David Pastrnak: It’s possible that the Bruins’ forward could make this a short competition by winning this season’s Hart Trophy, but not likely. Leon Draisaitl of the Oilers put a little distance on the field with a four-goal night against the Predators in his first game in the month of March. Nathan McKinnon of the Avalanche also has a strong case. Pastrnak and the Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin shared the NHL goal lead with 48 when the league hit the pause button. Pastrnak turns 24 on Memorial Day, so he’ll have plenty more chances, but how many more with the Perfection Line together? Those could be his best shots.

2. Brad Marchand: Power play, penalty kill, 5 on 5, whatever the situation, Marchand has the drive, the in-your-face edge, and the passing and scoring skills to be the ultimate love-him-or-hate-him athlete, based, of course, on whether you’re rooting for the Bruins or for the other guys. He’s still in his prime and could take home a Hart Trophy as soon as next season.

Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts hit .309 with 33 home runs and 117 RBI last season and should contend for the AL MVP for many seasons. Chris O’Meara/Associated Press

3. Xander Bogaerts: The big shortstop never stops improving. He’s coming off a strong defensive season in which he hit .309 with 33 home runs and 117 RBI. If the outlook of the Red Sox pitching staff projected better, Bogaerts would rank higher here, but the Sox at the moment don’t shape up as a contender and the pitching in the minors has a way to go before being considered deep. A terrific all-around player who has the sort of maturity that suggests he’ll continue to work hard to stay on top, Bogaerts will contend for MVP in many seasons. Whether he wins one depends as much on the standings as his standing among statistical leaders.

Jayson Tatum of the Celtics is just 22 and already an All-Star. Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

4. Jayson Tatum: The first-time All-Star forward was rising so high so fast, driven by his realization of just how good he is, and then the league shut down. He not only has improved at guarding his man, he’s become harder to guard, getting more aggressive closer to the hoop.

5. Rafael Devers: He did an impressive job of getting himself into better condition last season and put in the time to develop into a strong defensive third baseman. He hit .311 with 32 home runs and 115 RBI last season. As Red Sox Manager Ron Roenicke noted, Devers has one of those upbeat personalities that puts people in a better mood just looking at him. In other words, he’s a good teammate.

6. The Field: Only two defensive players have won an NFL MVP award: Vikings defensive tackle Alan Page in 1971 and Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor in 1986. So that’s why Stephon Gilmore doesn’t have an entry of his own on this list. Others from the field who have the potential to win include Kemba Walker – the anti-Kyrie Irving – and Triple-A corner infielder Bobby Dalbec. He has such outrageous power that if he ever puts it all together, he has a chance to turn Fenway Park into his launching pad to stardom.

7. Patrice Bergeron: He turns 35 in July, but he is aging exceptionally well, and for as long as he’s at the top of his game, the Bruins figure to be serious contenders. Writers have shown how much they respect Bergeron’s game by voting him the winner of the Selke Trophy four times as the NHL’s top defensive forward.

8. Jaylen Brown: A terrific defender and explosive dunker, Brown was sharing the ball more this season, and was averaging 20.4 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.2 assists and shooting 49%, all career highs.

Jarrett Stidham has big shoes to fill, taking over for Tom Brady as quarterback of the New England Patriots. He has thrown just four passes in the NFL, but could succeed with a team built by Bill Belichick. Julio Cortez/Associated Press

9. Jarrett Stidham: He has thrown four NFL passes and one was intercepted and returned for a touchdown, so what’s he doing on this list? He’s the apparent starting triggerman in a system that has kept defenses in retreat mode, and he’s an extremely accurate passer. If he puts it all together and the Patriots can work the cap well enough to stay strong on both sides of the ball, why can’t he at some point win the award that has gone to seven quarterbacks (Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton, Matt Ryan, Brady, Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson) the past seven seasons?


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.