Hart Memorial Trophy: The NHL player judged most valuable to his team
Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins: Crosby had another great year in Pittsburgh. He ranked second in the league in assists with 41 and tied for third in points with 56– he led the Penguins team in both categories as well. He also leads the other nominees in plus/minus ratings. On the other hand, he only had 15 goals. Granted, he was out with a jaw injury for an extended amount of time and Pittsburgh was chock-full of other goal-scorers. It’s extremely impressive that he managed to come second in assists and second in points in the entire league after being out for such a long time in a shortened season. It’s no wonder he is considered the best in the world.
Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals: Ovi was harshly criticized in the beginning of the season for underperforming. And understandably so. He really kicked it up in the latter half of the year, though, and led his team to third in the east. The Caps success appeared to be strongly based on how well he played. Most notably, he finished the year with the most goals in the league (32). He also tied Sidney Crosby for third most points in the season (56). On top of that, he finished with the most power-play goals and shots on goal in the league. Out of all the Capitals players, Ovechkin led the team in points, goals, shots, and hits. Since this is an MVP award and not an offensive talent award, Ovechkin’s defensive play (or lack-there-of) is of some concern.
John Tavares of the New York Islanders: Tavares led his team to the playoffs for the first time in six years. In terms of points, Tavares had eleven less than the other two candidates (47). He did, however, have the third most goals in the league (28, which is only 3 less than he had in the 82 game season) behind Ovechkin and Stamkos. He also tied for third in power play goals (9) and as for his 5-on-5 play, he tied for first with 19 even strength goals. In addition, he led the other nominees in game-winning-goals with 5. In terms of his own team, he led the Islanders in points, goals, shootouts, shots, special teams goals, and forward ice time. Easy to say his spot on this list is well-deserved.
Pink Puck Pick: John Tavares. This was a tough call with Ovechkin coming in a close second. As for Crosby, since the Penguins had such a solid team all around, they could have done just as well without him (and proved that when he was out with a jaw injury). So if the trophy was for “most valuable player overall in the league”, yes, then it would go to Crosby. On the other hand, Ovechkin led the Capitals’ late season push for the playoffs and Tavares was the biggest reason the Islanders made the playoffs for the first time in six years. Tavares led his team in almost all offensive categories and showed up in a lot of the “Top Ten” lists for the entire league. Not to mention, he was consistently productive throughout the whole season unlike Ovi.