With the regular season winding down it’s only fitting we should start seeing opinions on who should win the Hart Trophy, “given to the player judged to be the most valuable to his team.”
Edward Fraser feels there are a quintet of contenders while Ken Campbell argues Henrik Sedin deserves to be included in the conversation but doesn’t deserve to win it. Tim Morgan thinks both Gaborik and Lundqvist deserve nominations but when it comes down to it, based on previous voting, it is shaping up to be a two-horse race: Alex Ovechkin and Henrik Sedin. (Sorry Sidney, maybe next year?)
Since 1998-9 (the first year of the Maurice Richard Trophy) the voters seem to reward players that rank 1st or 2nd in Points for the regular season. Only G Jose Theodore (2001-2002) and D Chris Pronger (1999-2000) are the exceptions during this time frame.
That leads me to believe it will come down to Ovechkin and Sedin despite the outcome as they battle for the Art Ross Trophy.
So lets look at the contenders:
Henrik has really decoupled himself from his twin brother this season, and showed he is the driving force behind Vancouver’s success this season. And while he may not be as dynamic as Ovechkin (or Crosby for that matter) Henrik has quietly shown the ability to be the exact type of player Vancouver has needed: Never going longer than four games without a point this season.
If you ignore the suspensions and Russia’s let-down in the Olympics, the biggest knock on the reigning Hart winner’s chances to threepeat (something which only two other players have ever done: Bobby Orr and Wayne Gretzky) seems to be that the Caps went 7-2-1 without him in the lineup this season. But as Ed Frankovic correctly points out 4 of those wins came against Florida and the two losses were to New Jersey, a team the Caps could potentially see in the playoffs. With Ovechkin in the lineup the Caps went 1-0-1 against those same Devils. And Nate Ewell reminded us last night, Caps have a better record with Ovi as captain (.821) than they did when he was out of the lineup (.750)
Plus, Sedin is only close to Ovechkin in Total Points because he has played in 10(!) more games than Ovechkin. If we adjust Ovechkin’s stats to an 82 game season, the point totals look much different:
- Alexander Ovechkin, 124
- Henrik Sedin, 109
And then we aren’t even having a debate. So look for Ovechkin to become the NHL’s third threepeat Hart Trophy winner.