The finalists for the Hart Trophy, given to the player most valuable to his team, have been announced. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports that the three finalists are Pittsburgh Penguins’ Sidney Crosby, Tampa Bay Lightning’s Nikita Kucherov and Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid.
Kucherov is considered to be a favorite for the award after putting up a tremendous year. The 25-year-old took his game to another level as he has already captured this year’s Art Ross Trophy for leading the league in total points. He finished the year with 41 goals and 128 points, the most in the league since the 1995-96 season. His totals are also the most-ever by a Russian-born NHL player. Kucherov has also been nominated for the Ted Lindsay Award, awarded to the most outstanding player and voted on by the players. Kucherov led his team to the Presidents’ Trophy, given to the team with the best regular-season record.
Crosby had an impressive season as well. Often forgotten when talking about the league’s best players, Crosby helped lead the Penguins to the playoffs this year and did it by breaking the 100-point mark for the first time in five years. On top of that, he was 18-points better than any other players on his team, making his season quite valuable for a Pittsburgh franchise that struggled to get into the playoffs this season.
McDavid’s name is not surprising either, other than the fact that the Edmonton Oilers didn’t have a very impressive season and while they weren’t mathematically eliminated from the playoffs until late in the season, they were never truly considered to be a playoff threat this season. In fact, McDavid is just the sixth player in NHL history to be a Hart finalist from a non-playoff team. McDavid, however, who won the Hart Trophy in the 2016-17 season when he tallied 30 goals and 100 points, continues to improve on each season as he tallied 41 goals and 116 points to reach new career highs.