NHL Network Radio’s Two Man Advantage – The Race for the Hart Trophy


Nikita Kucherov #86 of the Tampa Bay Lightning looks on during a game against the Florida Panthers at Amalie Arena on March 6, 2018 in Tampa, Florida.

Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

With less than a month left in the NHL regular season some teams are jockeying for playoff position while others are just trying to find a way to crack the top eight in their conference.

The race for the Art Ross (Scoring Leader) and Rocket Richard (Most goals) Trophies are still up for grabs as well as who will be this season Hart Trophy winner for league MVP.

The Hart Trophy always conjures up a great deal of debate and this season will be no different as the race appears to be wide open.  You can make a case for close to a dozen players that are Hart Trophy worthy.

Here are some of the candidates and their resume.

Nikita Kucherov

91 points – 1st

34 goals – 7th

57 assists – tied for 3rd

6 GWG – tied for 4th

35% – percentage of teams goals he has scored or earned an assist.

Nathan MacKinnon

82 points – tied for 4th

33 goals – tied for 7th

49 assists – 8th

10 GWG – tied for 2nd

37% – percentage of teams goals he has scored or earned an assist.


Evgeni Malkin

87 points – 2nd

39 goals – 3rd

48 assists – tied for 9th

7 GWG – tied for 3rd

38% – percentage of teams goals he has scored or earned an assist.

Anze Kopitar

76 points – tied for 8th

28 goals – tied for 10th

48 assists – tied for 9th

22:00 TOI/Game – 2nd amongst forwards

37% – percentage of teams goals he has scored or earned an assist.

Taylor Hall

74 points – tied for 9th

30 goals – tied for 9th

44 assists – tied for 14th

36% – percentage of teams goals he has scored or earned an assist.

Connor McDavid

84 points – 3rd

33 goals – tied for 7th

51 assists – tied for 6th

44% – percentage of teams goals he has scored or earned an assist.

So, what best determines who deserves the honor of being named league MVP.  For me, it’s not only the percentage of your team’s goals that are scored that should be considered but what type of secondary support do you have.

Leading scorer Nikita Kucherov has plenty of support.  The Lightning have scored more goals than any other team in the league.  Tampa has six players with 20 goals or more, nine players with 10 or more goals and four players with 50 or more points.

Evgeni Malkin who trails Kucherov by four points in the scoring race has a solid support group as well, with Phil Kessel and Sidney Crosby, eighth and eleventh in NHL scoring respectively.  The Penguins feature five players with 20 or more goals and seven players with double digit goal totals.

The support group for Nathan MacKinnon is not quite as strong.  While the Avalanche do have nine players with 10 or more goals, only two others along with MacKinnon have eclipsed the 20-goal plateau and Mikko Rantanen and his 70 points is the only other Avalanche player to have more than 50 points.

What makes the accomplishments of Anze Kopitar most impressive and Hart Trophy worthy is the fact that Drew Doughty and his 48 points is second in team scoring. Doughty has figured into just 24% of the Kings goals, that is the second largest percentage split (first to second in team scoring) amongst all the Hart Trophy candidates (see Taylor Hall).

What a turnaround season it has been for Taylor Hall.  His 26-game point streak has lead to with his career high 30 goals and his 74 points is just six points shy of his career best 80 (2013-14). Though the Devils do feature nine players with 10 or more goals, rookie Nico Hischier is second behind Hall in points with 43.  Do the math, that’s 31 points separating the two and Hischier has only been in on 21% of the Devils goals scored this season.  That’s meant a lot of heavy lifting for Hall.

While voters of the Hart Trophy Award will submit their ballots following the conclusion of the regular season on April 8, I had 17 broadcasters and writers from around the NHL make their MVP selections based on the season ending today. You may be surprised on the results.

Players received 5 points for a first-place vote, four for a second-place vote, three for a third-place vote, two points for a fourth-place vote and one point for a fifth-place vote.

Player                               Points                1st place votes

Nathan MacKinnon             57                     7

Evgeni Malkin                     54                     3

Nikita Kucherov                  48                     7

Taylor Hall                          35                     0

Anze Kopitar                      19                     0

Sidney Crosby                    6                      0

Connor McDavid                 5                      0

Patrice Bergeron                 5                      0

Claude Giroux                     5                      0

Eric Staal                            4                      0

John Tavares                      3                      0

William Karlsson                 1                      0

Andrei Vasilevskiy               1                      0


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