Hart Trophy Favorites
NHL MVP Monthly Ladder
By Bob Duff
The Hart Trophy has seen seven different winners during the past seven NHL seasons and there’s a distinct possibility that this season could make it eight for eight. Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid is threatening to lead the Oilers to their first Stanley Cup playoff appearance since the 2005-06 season.
To be the league’s MVP though, McDavid will likely be required to hold off two veterans who know all about what it takes to be Hart-worthy. Past winners Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens and Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby are making strong cases for MVP of the NHL as well.
The contenders, with odds courtesy of Bovada.lv:
Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers (+125)
There are signs that McDavid is slowing down a bit from the torrid pace he set to start the NHL season. The sophomore center was recently caught atop the NHL scoring race by Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin. McDavid registered just two goals and three assists in his last nine games during the month of December.
Regardless, McDavid has posted 13 multi-point games this season and could explode again at a moment’s notice. If he gets the Oilers into the playoffs, it will be difficult to deny him the Hart.
Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins (+140)
During the calendar year of 2016, the Penguins captain registered an NHL-leading 100 points, ending the silly speculation that perhaps Crosby’s best years were behind him. Crosby leads the NHL with 26 goals and posted points in 13 of 15 December games, garnering 11-9-20 totals.
Crosby led the NHL in scoring in both of his previous Hart Trophy seasons, 2006-07 and 2013-14, and it may just be that the fact the Penguins are the defending Stanley Cup champions might work against him in the voting, because people expected Pittsburgh to be good this season.
Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens (+800)
Things have gone a bit south of late for Price, explaining the high price (pardon the pun) you can get on him right now in the Hart Trophy future book. The low point was his stare down of the Montreal Canadiens bench as he left the ice when he was pulled from a recent game against San Jose.
Regardless, Price still owned a .930 save percentage at the end of December, along with 18 wins and a 2.07 goals-against average. When Price was injured last season, Montreal missed the playoffs. With him between the posts, they are Cup contenders. That’s the absolute definition of an MVP.
Devan Dubnyk, Minnesota Wild (+500)
This is the goalie getting the most Hart love right now and with good reason. Dubnyk tops the NHL with a .940 save percentage and recently led the Wild on a 12-game winning streak and among the contenders in the Western Conference.
No player from Minnesota has even finished as runner-up for the Hart and expecting that to change this season would be wild speculation.
Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis Blues (+750)
The hero of the Blues’ Winter Classic win over Chicago, Tarasenko is fourth in NHL scoring (41 points) and sixth in goals (18) as of Jan. 3. But he’s also a minus-three and that will work against him in Hart balloting.
Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks (+1800)
The runaway NHL leader among defensemen in both goals (15) and points (35), Burns looks a lock for the Norris Trophy but history is against him when it comes to the Hart.
Since 1972, only one defenseman has won the Hart, Chris Pronger of St. Louis in 1999-2000.
Pick: Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers (+125)