The NHL is almost done announcing all its awards finalists and today they present the three contenders for the Hart Trophy, given to “to the player adjudged to be the most valuable to his team.” The nominees are:
- Henrik Lundqvist (New York Rangers)
- Evgeni Malkin (Pittsburgh Penguins)
- Steven Stamkos (Tampa Bay Lightning)
Lundqvist, who is also nominated for the Vezina Trophy, had a personal-best season between the pipes for the resurgent Rangers. He’s on record for 39 out of the 51 wins they tallied, set personal-bests for goals against average (1.97) and save percentage (.930) that were fourth in the league, plus he notched eight shutouts. He’s a big part of the Rangers’ rise to prominence. This is the first time a goalie has been a Hart finalist since 2006-07, but no netminder has won the award since Jose Theodore back in 2001-02.
Malkin spent last summer resting a season-ending knee injury and wasn’t all the way back to normal at the start of this season, but he went to work and did good things. He had a 50-goal season, his first ever, and his 109-point total led the entire league, giving him the Art Ross Trophy. He often went streaking, putting together three streaks where he tallied points in at least eight consecutive games, and had four separate five-point games as well. His presence also bettered the players around him, like James Neal, who scored 40 goals this season while on a line with Malkin. But this might be the most telling statistic: in the 14 games where Malkin went pointless this season, the Penguins had a 5-9-0 record.
Stamkos also had a standout season, though Tampa Bay struggled in the standings and missed the playoffs altogether. He scored 60 goals this season, becoming just the 20th player ever to do so, won the Rocket Richard Trophy and finished off the year with 97 points. This season he had two hat tricks and 13 multi-goal games. While he excels at scoring, he also played all 82 games for the third straight year, had about 22 minutes of ice time (a career best) and provided assists, takeaways, hits and blocked shots whenever needed.
The members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association vote on the Hart winner, who will be announced at the NHL Awards on June 20. The last announcements of finalists, for the Jack Adams Award and the NHL Foundation Award, will come on April 30.