The Hart Memorial Trophy Goes To...
Who really is the Hart Trophy leader this season? The discussion was all but over by January 1st, when Sidney Crosby decided to put up points at a pace not seen since the 90’s. But a few bad luck hits left Crosby out and re-opened the Hart Trophy talk. Currently there are a few guys on the list that do not typically get the recognition that they should. Heading my list is a player that has been great all season, but just recently started to receive notoriety for the trophy. I will be listing the top 5 candidates, my personal opinion of course, in order and why they deserve the trophy.
1. Corey Perry – The right winger of the Anaheim Ducks is the current leader in the NHL for goals with 44. His 85 points put him at 5th in the league and first on his respected team. Perry has a 15-point lead on Teemu Selanne and a 17-point lead on Ryan Getzlaf. His three shorthanded goals and 10 game-winning goals rank him among the more clutch players in today’s game. Perry typically has Getzlaf and Ryan to aid him, but Getzlaf is having a subpar season. If the season were to end now, I would have to give the Hart Memorial Trophy to Corey Perry.
2. Daniel Sedin – The NHL leader in points is Daniel Sedin. His 40 goals place him 3rd in the league. While Daniel does lead the league in points, I have him second on my list for one reason; he has a twin who is second in the league in points. I know it is a typical cop out to choose the NHL leader in points, but when line mates are producing at a certain level; I find it hard to choose either one of them for league MVP. Daniel has had a career year and looks to be the only guy who might break 100 points, but unfortunately having a brother/line mate right there with you will cut down on your chances of being the Hart Trophy winner.
3. Pekka Rinne – The goaltender of the Nashville Predators might be the least known superstar in this league. Although he is second in the league in save percentage and goals against average (behind only Tim Thomas), I feel that he should be ahead of Timmy in the Hart talk. Nashville does not have a single 20-goal scorer, and their leading point scorers are Martin Erat and Shea Weber (with 46 points). Pekka has proven his worth in past seasons, but this season is one to remember.
4. Martin St.Louis – The 35-year-old playmaker is still at it. He is tied with Henrik Sedin for the second-most points in the NHL with 89. A constant for the ever shaky Lightning, St.Louis is one of the most dangerous players in the game. He feeds the shot machine that is Steven Stamkos and can puck-handle with the best in the game (Crosby and Pavel Datsyuk by the way). With the very streaky Stamkos next to him, St.Louis has managed to consistently put up points and even more consistently does not take penalties.
5. Tim Thomas – With stats like Thomas’s there is no doubt he was going to be on the list. Tim leads the league in goals against average and save percentage. His team is currently third in the East in the standings and first in the East in goals allowed. The only reason that Thomas is behind Rinne on this list is the defense that Thomas has in front of him, as well as the offense that Boston provides. Both of which are better than those of Nashville, so even though Thomas’s stats will win him a Vezina, Pekka’s situation gives him a slight edge in the Hart Trophy discussion.
Players that missed the cut
1. Steven Stamkos – The NHL’s next superstar is Steven Stamkos. With 43 goals and 86 points, Stamkos is one of the top offensive producers in the league. The reason he isn’t in the discussion is his lackluster faceoff percentage and his streaky play. The kid has a lot of growing up to do before he can be considered and elite player like Ovechkin, Crosby, or Datsyuk.
2. Henrik Lundqvist - With top five goalie numbers and 11 shutouts, the King will once again be in the conversation for the Vezina, but will most likely not win it. Henrik has had a rotation of young defenders in front of him all season but has still put up some of the best numbers in the league.
The NHL has offered plenty of talent over the years and this season is no different. Even without Crosby, Ovechkin, and Datsyuk, there is no shortage of great players to choose from. If you have any other candidates or don’t like the order, please leave a comment below.