NHL's MVP race heats up before season's end

We are officially one week away from the end of the season!

There are some good playoff battles to watch, especially in the west. However, the big battle on an individual level is for the Hart Trophy this year. The field is pretty wide open with several guys having a chance to win it without much argument. This will be a close vote so let’s look at the top 5 competitors.

 (Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

(Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Nikita Kucherov – Tampa Bay Lightning

Kucherov was seemingly the favourite for MVP at the halfway point of the season. He was outproducing everyone for the top team in the league. Now, other players are starting to catch up who are also more important for their teams than Kucherov, who plays with several star players. That being said, he is still 2nd in the league in points and remains an elite force on the powerplay.

 (Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images)

(Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images)

Evgeni Malkin – Pittsburgh Penguins

It feels different to discuss an MVP candidate from the Penguins that isn’t Sidney Crosby (who has played every single game this year). But here we are and Malkindefinitely deserves this praise. He has been the driving force behind the Penguins clinching a playoff spot as they look to pull off the rare 3peat. Malkin is 3rd in the league in points while also racking up 60 points in the last 40 games.

 (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

(Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

Connor McDavid – Edmonton Oilers

This is the most controversial candidate. Connor McDavid is the best player in the league and had 40 goals and 100 points. He is #1 in the league in points, and top 5 in goals and assists. He dominates every time he is on the ice. He seems like the easy choice but to a lot of voters, he might not even make the ballot. Why? Because the Oilers currently are in 25th place in the league standings and some voters are opposed to players who can’t bring their team to the playoffs.

 (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

(Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

Nathan MacKinnon – Colorado Avalanche

MacKinnon shot up MVP ballots with a scorching March of 22 points in 15 games to lead the charge for Colorado bringing them into the playoff picture. He is 5th in the league in points. Now, while the Avalanche still could miss the playoffs, there is no denying his impact on this team that wasn’t expected to go far this year.

 (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Taylor Hall – New Jersey Devils

Another leader from a team that wasn’t expected to do as well as they are doing, Taylor Hall has led this team to contention. He has had 25 goals and 28 assists in 38 games since the New Year and propelled the Devils ahead into a playoff spot right now.

There are some outside candidates like Rocket Richard favourite Alex Ovechkin as well as Philly forward Claude Giroux and the league leader in assists from Winnipeg Blake Wheeler. However, when it comes down to how I feel about the MVP, I have to go with McDavid. In my mind, the MVP should go to the player with the best season that means the most to his club. Connor McDavid contributes a higher percentage of his team’s production than any other player and has had a better season than anyone else. The poor management of a team shouldn’t impact the MVP caliber performance of a player, and Connor McDavid deserves it.