With the NHL Awards coming up, we here at The Point will break down the finalists for the six major awards, as well as select our winners before the NHL Awards Ceremony in Vegas today. After picking our winners for the Norris, Vezina, Selke, Calder, and Jack Adams it’s finally time to take a look at the player voted most valuable to his team by the Professional Hockey Writer’s Association.
Sidney Crosby is a Hart Trophy finalist for the seventh time in his career and he’s looking to become only the ninth player to win the award three times. Topping 100 points for the sixth time in his career, he was also dominant in his own end where he won 57.1% of his faceoffs.
As usual, covering Crosby was an almost impossible task down low for defenders. He averaged the 16th most offensive zone possession time by a forward and used it well. He was especially good at finding players in the slot for one-timers where he averaged the 7th most passes to the slot for a one-timer among forwards.
Saying that Nikita Kucherov had an outstanding season would be a massive understatement. No player this millennium has scored more points than Kucherov’s 128 and prime Joe Thornton is the only player to have more than his 87 assists. He completed 60 more passes to the slot than McDavid, who ranked 2nd in the NHL, and still found time to score 41 goals, just 10 fewer than Alex Ovechkin’s league-leading total.
Kucherov led the league in scoring from December 27th on, never once giving it up. He contributed at least one point in 62 of his 82 games this season leading his team to an incredible 319 goals for. What more can we say about him? He was the most productive player in the league by a mile, helping himself and his team to multiple records.
A third straight 100+ point season for Connor McDavid gives him a chance to win his second Hart Trophy at only 22 years old. He finished second in the Art Ross race with a career-high 116 points and was once again the driving force for the Oilers, joined by Leon Draisaitl who also topped the 100-point mark.
The biggest knock against McDavid is the fact that his team missed the playoffs, but you can’t blame him for that. He dragged his team as far as he could but even while playing a league-high 22:50 among forwards per game, it just wasn’t enough. There’s no doubt McDavid is his team’s most valuable and will be for years to come.
The Point Consensus Pick: Nikita Kucherov
Just like the poll, we have Kucherov as the clear winner here. Even though he played on such an incredible team, his season was just too dominant for him not to win this award. Both McDavid and Crosby had great seasons but Kucherov had one of the greatest offensive performances we’ve seen in the past decade. He won the scoring lead by such a ridiculous margin and looked unstoppable all season long. His record-breaking season deserves to end with a Hart Trophy.
(Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)