Ovechkin, Crosby are a familiar 1-2 pair

Another race to the top of the East begins in earnest for the game's two foremost players. Getty Images

The Player Power Rankings appeared on ESPN.com most of last year -- here's one edition, done during the 2010 Stanley Cup finals to project the Conn Smythe winner -- and now they return for a preseason edition to see who are the early favorites for the Hart Trophy for league MVP.

During the season, the rankings are based on player production in terms of Puck Prospectus' GVT valuation metric. These first rankings, however, use our VUKOTA projection system to anticipate production levels during the 2010-11 season. If you are unfamiliar with our VUKOTA projection system and how it works, you can find more here.

Admittedly, the top two names on this list are pretty familiar, and that should make New Year's Day at Heinz Field a pretty epic showdown.