RALEIGH, N.C. - Being the MVP or the top defenseman on this year's Flyers is rather hollow because the team will miss the playoffs for the second time in three years.

The best defenseman - on a team that doesn't have a true top-pair player - should be Nick Schultz, Michael Del Zotto, or Mark Streit.

Schultz emerged after signing as the No. 7 blueliner in July, Del Zotto displayed some eye-popping offense after being an emergency signing in August, and Streit adroitly ran one of the league's best power plays.

As for the team's MVP, Jake Voracek, Steve Mason, and Claude Giroux are the top candidates, with Wayne Simmonds a close fourth.

The media's votes have been cast, and the Flyers will reveal the results before their season finale Saturday afternoon against visiting Ottawa.

Here are the leading candidates in what should be a close vote:

MVP Bobby Clarke Trophy

JAKE VORACEK

Why he should win: The speedy, relentless right winger had a breakout season and has a career-high 77 points, three points away from sharing the NHL lead going into the weekend. Voracek's point total includes 56 assists, tied for tops in the NHL, and he has been arguably the Flyers' most consistent player, a true heart and soul guy.

Why he shouldn't win: He had just nine points in a critical 19-game late-season stretch in which the Flyers fell out of playoff contention.

STEVE MASON

Why he should win: Mason, who somehow was called a run-of-the-mill goalie by NBC analyst Mike Milbury on Wednesday, kept the Flyers in almost every game, and he is among the league leaders in save percentage (.928, third in NHL) and goals-against average (2.22, seventh). He could set a franchise record for save percentage, a stat that was officially recognized by the NHL in 1982, topping the mark set by Roman Cechmanek (.925) in 2002-03.

Why he shouldn't win: Mason got off to a slow start in October, and he had just two road wins. Most of his road losses were because the team scored two goals or fewer in 17 of his 20 games, but a big save in a shootout or overtime would have given the Flyers more victories.

CLAUDE GIROUX

Why he should win: The hardworking, shifty center has 69 points, 11th in the NHL entering Saturday, and he led the league with 35 power-play points. He also was fifth in the league in faceoffs, winning 56.4 percent of his draws.

Why he shouldn't win: He didn't score an even-strength goal at home until the Flyers' 36th game at the Wells Fargo Center, and overall he managed just two goals in a late-season, 24-game stretch in which the team fell out of the race.

Best defenseman Barry Ashbee Trophy

NICK SCHULTZ

Why he should win: He wasn't flashy, but he was the quintessential stay-at-home defenseman - like Ashbee - and he revived a career that seemed to be hanging by a thread the previous season. Schultz has a plus-3 rating and leads the team with 151 blocked shots.

Why he shouldn't win: Schultz, who signed a two-year extension during the season, was one-dimensional, and he was much less effective on the road than at home.

MARK STREIT

Why he should win: An alternate captain, Streit was one of the team's best leaders, and he was tied for second among NHL defensemen with 27 power-play points entering the weekend. Overall, he was tied for 12th among D-men with 46 points.

Why he shouldn't win: Streit was shaky on defense in the season's second half. Since Dec. 27, he has a minus-18 rating.

MICHAEL DEL ZOTTO

Why he should win: Signed in the summer after it was learned Kimmo Timonen had blood clots, Del Zotto showed a knack for scoring big goals that helped the Flyers jump back into the playoff hunt. Del Zotto scored seven goals during a 19-game, late-season stretch. Overall, he has nine goals, one shy of his career high.

Why he shouldn't win: His defense was spotty (minus-6 rating), and he sometimes pinched in too tight on offense, leading to odd-man rushes the other way.

The envelope, please . . .

My ballot: Voracek rarely had a bad shift, let alone a bad game. He received my MVP vote by the slimmest of margins over Mason. On defense, Schultz gets my nod because he was the definition of consistency.

scarchidi@phillynews.com

@BroadStBull

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