The Top 3 Candidates for the NHL's Hart Trophy
Despite playing about 10 games less than the rest of the league’s point leaders, Crosby still has a solid chance at finishing the season top-5 in points and is almost guaranteed to finish top-3 in assists. His end-of-the season stat-line: 15 goals, 41 assists, and 56 points in just 36 games. His 1.56 points per game average crushes anyone else in the league, with Martin St. Louis next at 1.26.
The two biggest cases against Sid the Kid are A) The injury of course and B) the fact that the Penguins are still an extremely solid team without him. Pittsburgh is 28-8 this season with Crosby and 7-3 without him. Chris Kunitz, Pascal Dupuis, Kris Letang and James Neal are all having spectacular seasons and don’t forget about that Evgeni Malkin guy who can come through with some big plays here and there.
Overall MVP Score: 7.5/10
Chicago’s superstar winger is currently 5th in the league in points (54) and 6th in the league in goals (22). After an underwhelming 2012 campaign (23 goals, 43 assists in 82 games), Kane has solidified himself as one of the league’s top offensive talents.
Now the argument for Kane as an MVP is something of a double-edged sword. The Blackhawks have had one of the most impressive seasons in recent memory, currently 35-6-5, good for 75 points in just 46 games. And Kane has had the most spectacular season of all the Blackhawks. But without Kane, the Blackhawks are clearly still a pretty dangerous contender. With a pair of goaltenders playing the best net-minding of their careers and a good amount of depth on both the offensive and defensive ends, Chicago would still have a lot of fight in them without Kane.
Overall MVP Score: 7/10
Most of the MVP talk right now is starting to center around Ovi. The Capitals are 10-1 in April, and during that streak, Ovechkin has tallied 13 goals, 6 assists and 19 points.
By the pure definition of the award - most valuable player - it’s hard to argue against Ovechkin, as the Capitals without him would be struggling to keep around .500. The load he carries for his team is almost incalculable. He distantly leads the league in shots on goal with 214 (next closest is Winnipeg’s Evander Kane at 187) and the Capitals have only one other player who has taken 100-or-more shots (Troy Brouwer with 104). Now compare that with Pittsburgh who has a range of shot-takers (Dupuis - 139, Neal -128, Crosby - 124, and Kunitz - 108) as well as Chicago (Toews - 137, Kane - 128, Hossa - 115, and Stalberg - 107).
Ovechkin’s current line is 31 goals, 22 assists and 53 points. The Capitals have clinched the pitiful Southeast division and will be the third seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs. The biggest argument against Ovi is that the Capitals aren’t in the top-tier of teams in the NHL this year, currently tied for 10th in the league in points, but they’ve turned on the jets at the right time and after their 1-5-1 start to the season, the Capitals have first-round, home-ice advantage in their headlights with the league’s MVP frontrunner to thank.
Overall MVP Score: 8.5/10