To be considered the Most Valuable Player, it's usually a prerequisite to actually, you know, play a lot of games in a season. If you want to actually win the award, that's the recommended approach to take.

However sometimes the best way to judge a true player's value to a team is to take him out of the equation. If things change -- and not for the good -- in a dramatic way, you're obviously talking about a very valuable player to that team.

Which brings us to one Nashville Predators goaltender, Pekka Rinne. The Predators' netminder has been out of the lineup since Oct. 22 after suffering a dangerous infection in his pelvis, something he is yet to return to action from (he is expected to, but maybe not this season at this point). The guy who started 73 of Nashville's 82 games in 2011-12 and 43 of 48 last season, has only played nine of their 55 this season.

In his absence, Rinne's value to the Predators has only been illuminated. It's no secret that Rinne is one of the top goaltenders in the game and has been for a few seasons now. That's why the Predators gave him a massive, lucrative contract extension that made him one of the highest-paid goalies in the league. You don't lose a guy like Rinne and then expect not to feel the hit. In other words: of course he's valuable, all good goalies are.