2017/18 NHL Hart Trophy: Connor McDavid To Repeat as NHL MVP?
2017/18 NHL Hart Trophy Favorites
Connor McDavid – Edmonton Oilers
At the age of 20, Connor McDavid overcame the disappointment of a season-ending injury during his rookie season to become the NHL’s newest superstar in his sophomore campaign.
Similar to Sid, who tallied 102 points in his first full season, Connor lead the NHL in scoring as the only 100-point player during 2016-2017. Accordingly, he was awarded the Hart Trophy for leading the Edmonton Oilers back to the NHL playoffs.
McDavid plays the game at a pace quicker than the rest of the league. Few skaters keep up with Connor’s acceleration, lateral movement and lightning-fast handles. His on-ice vision and smarts allow him to make the most of his ability to rocket around the rink, creating plentiful scoring opportunities for teammates. History shows that winning two consecutive MVP awards is an unlikely achievement. Considering that he’s yet to hit his prime, no other ice hockey player has a better chance to pull off the rare back-to-back Hart Trophy win.
Sidney Crosby – Pittsburgh Penguins
Despite McDavid’s ascendance to the Art Ross and Hart Trophy, Sidney Crosby remains the best player in the league. Over the last five years, Sid’s won the Hart once and finished second in voting thrice. His Penguins earned two Stanley Cups in a row, and they’re the favorites to three-peat in 2017-18. Crosby collected the Conn Smythe as playoff MVP for both rings.
People no longer worry about injuries for Sid - he missed out on three years of prime production during his early twenties because of concussion problems and a work stoppage. In the past four years, he regained his durability, playing 75 games or more each year.
Sid turned 30 in August, but he doesn’t look like he’s aged on ice for five years. Crosby could be the better bet to win the Hart over McDavid because of the historical difficulty of repeating as NHL MVP. Unless Crosby’s felled by injuries again, he’ll finish top three in voting, with an inside track to win his third Hart Trophy.
Vladimir Tarasenko – St. Louis Blues
Vladimir Tarasenko put up fantastic numbers as the Blues main goal scorer under Ken Hitchcock, a strict, defense-first coach. Hitch was fired late last season and replaced by former bench boss of the Minnesota Wild, Mike Yeo. Clearly, Ken’s message was growing old in the locker room as the Blues finished the season with a 22-8-2 record, one of the best marks in the second half of the year.
Seems like players enjoyed having the reigns loosened a bit, because the Blues started winning and enjoyed greater overall productivity on the offensive end. Vladdy finished the season on fire, with seven goals and 14 points in the last 12 games of the season.
Coach Yeo will continue to allow for a bit more offense, giving Tarasenko a chance to earn career high numbers this season. Young guns like Robby Fabbri and Ivan Barbashev appear ready to take the next step, which would provide Vladimir with linemates able to keep up. If Tarasenko manages to leap to the 85-90 point, 40-45 goal range, he’ll earn serious consideration for the Hart.
Nikita Kucherov – Tampa Bay Lightning
Hats off to the scouting and player development department of the Tampa Bay Lightning. There’s no other team over the past decade who consistently pick as many top prospects as Stevie Yzerman’s team. Stamkos, Hedman, Johnson, Palat and Vasilevskiy represent one of the best groups of home-grown players as any in the league.
Ironically, injuries to Steven Stamkos helped to reveal the full depth of Tampa Bay’s lineup, forcing prospects to step up to fill in for their oft-injured captain. Last year, Kucherov made a large leap in production, adding 10 goals and nine assists to his previous career high.
He was tied for fifth in the Art Ross race with 85 points, nearly outproducing Kane and Crosby despite a depleted lineup. With Stamkos returning to health, Kucherov appears ready for another improvement. He could breach the 45-goal, 90-point mark with Steve as his center, enough to warrant serious consideration for MVP.
Patrick Kane – Chicago Blackhawks
Patty Kane’s one of the shiftiest skaters in the current generation of NHL stars, capable of putting any defender in a spin cycle before deking the goalie out of his pads or slipping a smooth pass to a waiting scorer. Two seasons ago, he completely dominated the NHL, earning a whopping 106 points and winning the Hart Trophy and Art Ross in the process.
Kane’s ability to turn regular linemates into snipers form the basis of his Hart Trophy argument on an annual basis. He’s also learned to shoot more often as he’s aged, transforming into one of the league’s top goal producers.
There’s a good chance Kane will return to the 90-95 point mark, dragging his mates to 20 goal seasons. If the Blackhawks have another great season with Patrick leading the way, a second MVP award in three years isn’t out of the question.
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