Posts tagged Connor McDavid
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.

NHL Midseason Awards

Hart Trophy (MVP) - Current pick: Connor McDavid (EDM)

(Jason Franson/The Canadian Press)

(Jason Franson/The Canadian Press)

This may come as a surprise to some as Tampa Bay's Nikita Kucherov is most people`s choice and a tough 2nd for me, but Connor McDavid is truly the most valuable player and best player in the league.

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The Hart trophy for MVP often involves some weighing between the “most valuable” player and the player having the best season. Kucherov is having the best season but given the Lightning also have strong candidates for Vezina and Norris too, McDavid is far more valuable. New York Islander John Tavares should also get some consideration as he leads the league in even strength points just ahead of McDavid and has led his team to a higher place in the standings. While Tampa Bay has the best record in the league, some may be skeptical of how much the team relies on Kucherov with stars at each position as well. His points lead is largely due to power play effectiveness, and McDavid offers better possession and even strength stats along with being the most critical part of a team.

Norris Trophy (Top Defenseman) – Current pick: John Klingberg (DAL)

There are a number of decent candidates here without one truly sticking out. Klingberg is the points leader among defensemen but that’s not the only reason he's here. He is tied with St. Louis' Alex Pietrangelo for most points at even strength with 22, two ahead of LA's Drew Doughty, who is also a strong contender.

According to Corsica, Klingberg also has the highest CF% among these three as well as Ottawa's Erik Karlsson and Tampa's Victor Hedman who round out my top five. Doughty may be the better’s choice as the voters seem to love him even when he’s not doing that great but this year he warrants high praise. Erik Karlsson may have had a rough December but he is still the best defenseman in the league and could make a late charge for the trophy. Klingberg has been the best offensively and stable enough defensively to get the nod.

Vezina Trophy (Top Goalie) – Current pick: Andrei Vasilevskiy (TB)

This feels like an easy pick but goalies can rise and decline rapidly without warning, so trusting a young net minder like Vasilevskiy is a little risky. But his play to this point has been outstanding. Best even strength save percentage by 10 points over the next starters while also leading the league in shutouts with six.

The Blackhawks' Corey Crawford and Columbus' Sergei Bobrovsky offer similar cases of great even strength goaltending being dragged down by their teams’ poor penalty killing while LA's Jonathan Quick has enjoyed a resurgent season, along with the best save percentage on the penalty kill and solid even strength numbers. Vasilevskiy’s play of late has really propelled him past the other goalies and he is my choice now.

Calder Trophy (Best Rookie) – Current pick: Brock Boeser (VAN)

This has emerged as a two horse race and it is a very close call right now. Brock Boeser and the Islanders' Matthew Barzal are neck-and-neck as we hit the halfway point of the season. Boeser has 21 goals (fourth in the league) and has more total points but Barzal edges Boeser slightly when it comes to even strength points. Barzal also has better possession stats and advanced metrics favour him to Boeser.

A key advantage is that Boeser is more valuable to his team than Barzal. While Barzal has had a great season, he is fourth on the team in points as they also have an MVP candidate in Tavares. On the other hand Boeser leads his team in points by a margin of 10 and has been with two sets of linemates so far. Voters favour the goal scorers and in this case the player more valuable to his team too.

Jack Adams Award (Best Coach) – Current pick: Gerard Gallant (VGK)

This was the easiest choice for me to make. I’d wager almost everybody has Gallant pegged as the Jack Adams frontrunner right now.

Jon Cooper’s Lightning have the best record in the league and John Hynes has turned the Devils into something solid but there’s really no contest. I mean it’s almost unbelievable what the Vegas Knights team has done AS AN EXPANSION TEAM!!! This team was configured primarily of players left off teams protected lists. Their only really big free agent signing left for Russia. Yet here they are with the second best record in the league (!!!). Granted, some players they obtained were quality pieces that should’ve been protected - like Jonathan Audy-Marchessault and Nate Schmidt -but it is still surprising to pretty much everybody involved in hockey I’m sure even their fans wouldn’t have expected this. The team has gone through fie goalies but still held firm. Gallant deserves a ton of credit for how he’s been able to orchestrate this Cinderella story.