NHL MVP Race 2017
2017 NHL MVP Candidates
By Bob Duff
Leading the NHL in scoring and enjoying a career year, Chicago Blackhawks left-winger Patrick Kane was a deserving winner of the Hart Trophy in 2015-16. But can he do it again?
Oddsmakers have placed Kane as the preseason favorite to win the Hart again this season at 22-3, but he will be bucking the recent trend if he does. Alexander Ovechkin was the last player to win back-to-back Hart Trophies in 2007-08 and 2008-09. And prior to Ovechkin, Buffalo Sabres netminder Dominik Hasek won back-to-back Harts in 1996-97 and 1997-98.
So, if it isn’t likely that Kane will rise again, who should you be looking at in your Hart Trophy future wager?
Here are a few likely candidates:
Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins (17-2)
After leading the Pittsburgh Penguins to the Stanley Cup and winning the Conn Smythe Trophy last spring, Sid The Kid was able to wash away the memories of what began as an average regular season. The Penguins captain rebounded strongly in the second half of the season and collected points in 21 of his last 22 games, leading people to believe that maybe, just maybe, Crosby is ready again to ascend to the throne of the NHL’s best player.
He hasn’t posted a 100-point season since 2013-14, which also happens to be the last time that Crosby won the Hart Trophy. But it’s never a good idea to count Crosby out, and it’s easy to forget that he’s just 29 and has lots of incredible hockey left in him.
Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals (10-1)
In a goal-starved league where 20-goal seasons are considered to be solid campaigns, Ovechkin stands out in the crowd. He’s the only NHL player to post a 50-goal season since 2011-12 and Ovechkin has done it in each of the the last three campaigns.
With that kind of finishing talent and consistency, you can never discuss the Hart Trophy without counting Ovechkin as part of the conversation. He’s won three Harts already – the most of any active NHL player – and he’s overdue for another, having gone Hart-less since 2012-13.
Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens (18-1)
Carey Price suffered a medial collateral ligament injury to his right knee in a Nov. 25, 2015 game against the New York Rangers, ending his aspirations of winning back-to-back Hart Trophies.
He’s bounced back strongly, playing solid between the pipes for Canada in the World Cup of Hockey. With a healthy Price between the pipes, Montreal is a much different hockey team than the one that missed the Stanley Cup playoffs last season.
The Canadiens figure to enjoy a strong bounceback season in the NHL’s Eastern Conference and that could lead to a lot of Hart love for Price, who could join Hasek as the only netminder to win multiple Hart Trophies.
Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning (20-1)
Everyone expected Stamkos to bolt the Lightning and take it to unrestricted free agency in the summer but he opted to re-up with Tampa Bay, a decision that propels the Lightning to a top Stanley Cup candidate. With Stanley Cup contention comes Hart Trophy attention, and really, isn’t it time that Stamkos was considered for the award?
Stamkos finished second in Hart voting in 2011-12 following his 60-goal season but that’s the only time he’s finished higher than eighth in the balloting, despite twice leading the NHL in goals and four times scoring 43 or more times.
At these odds, rolling the dice on a Stamkos Hart Trophy future bet might not be a bad idea.
2016-17 Hart Trophy prediction: Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins (17-2)
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