The Hart Trophy, awarded to the most valuable player in the entire NHL. The Hart is not only a sign of great talent, but of leadership, perseverance, hard work, and the overall mentality of a true hockey player.
Winning the Hart means your name will forever be mentioned among the great players of our generation, and generations before. Players like Gordie Howe, Bobby Hull, Bobby Orr, Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, as well as names of more recent players who will go down as some of the best who have played like Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby.
The Hart Trophy is an eternal symbol of greatness as a single player. Unlike the Stanley Cup, which symbolizes the greatness of one team, or an organization, the Hart is awarded to one player. The player who excels over all others in the league.
Here is a look at the eight top players to keep an eye on this season that could end up with their first, or possibly even another Hart Trophy to add to their careers. If you’d like to read up on who to watch for the Vezina, you can do so here, and if you’d like to take a look at the Norris watch, you can also do that here.
1. Alex Ovechkin is fresh off of his third Hart Trophy. Ovechkin caught fire late in the season and never slowed down. He’s off to another torrid start already this season, taking aim at his fourth Hart in his short nine season career. Ovechkin is back at the top of his game now, and there’s no one better in the offensive end when he’s on fire. Ovi is primed for another 100 point season this year, which would be his fifth 100 point season, and first in 4 years.
2. Sidney Crosby is always a hot topic when it comes to the Hart Trophy. He excels in the offensive and defensive end of the rink. The main issue with Crosby is his health. Crosby is entering his 9th season in the league, and has only played over 70 games in four times. Crosby has one Hart to his name so far in his career, but will hopefully be able to stay healthy all season long, and continue to wow fans with his spectacular abilities on the ice.
3. Steven Stamkos is a two time winner of the Maurice Rocket Richard Trophy, for leading the league in goals, but has yet to win a Hart. Could this be the year? It very well could be the year for Stamkos to finally get his first Hart. He’s a clean skater with a rocket shot, and he offensive hockey senses that rank among the best in the league. Stamkos is entering his sixth season in the NHL, and has the help of veteran Martin St. Louis on his line. Stamkos already has a 60 goal season under his belt, and with youth on his side, he has an opportunity to hit 60+ again this season, and with a season like that, he’s almost guaranteed to be in the talk for the Hart Trophy.
4. John Tavares was a finalist for the Hart Trophy last season, and in my opinion should have won it. He was the most consistent player in the nominees. Tavares, the new captain of the New York Islanders, has all around skill on the ice, and has a great opportunity in New York this season to have a huge year. Tavares scored his first 30 goal season two years ago, and nearly hit 30 again last season, and he played in only 48 games. Tavares has a knack for scoring, and his leadership makes him that much more valuable to the Islanders night in and night out. If he can continue playing like he did last season, he has a great chance at being mentioned in the Hart conversation, and consistency is key.
5. Erik Karlsson was banged up last season, but he’s back this season, and we all know what he’s capable of from the blue line. Point a game stats, and the ability to shut down opposing forwards. Karlsson is a huge part of the Senators team, and is a popular topic in opposing team’s dressing rooms. His ability to skate, pass, and shoot with the best of them makes him a great candidate for the Norris, as well as the Hart. Keep an eye on this young star as he goes through the season.
6. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane proved to be a lethal combination for the Blackhawks last season. Toews playmaking ability along side Kane’s sniping ability makes it extremely difficult for opponents to match up on. Toews ability in the defensive end makes him that much more valuable to the Hawks, he led the league in take aways last season. Toews skills trancend into the faceoff circle as well, where he’ exceptional as well. Toews is an excellent player, and is more valuable to the Hawks than any other player on the roster. If Toews can put up a few more points this season than he has in the past, he has a great chance at bringing home some prized hardware.
7. Evgeni Malkin is one of the league’s most explosive players. He won the Hart two seasons ago in 2012, and has the ability to win it every season if his health provides him with enough ice time. Malkin and Crosby are the reason the Penguins are so dangerous. Malkin is a huge body, and a great skater. Entering his 8th season in the league, Malkin has three 100 point seasons to his name, and a 50 goal season as well. Malkin possesses the skill level needed to win an award like this, and will be out to prove his 8 year extension was worth every dollar this year.
8. Taylor Hall is an up and coming star in the NHL. I put him on here, because he finally had the season everyone knew he was capable of last year. The former first overall draft pick of the Oilers, put up 50 points in 45 games last year. The entire Oilers team is on the rise, and Hall has reached the level of play the organization expected him to reach when they drafted him. If Hall can once again improve on the season before, he could very well find his name in conversation with the best players in the league, and maybe even earn himself a nomination for the Hart, and maybe even take it home.
Topics: Alex Ovechkin, Bobby Hull, Bobby Orr, Edmonton Oilers, Erik Karlsson, Evgeni Malkin, Gordie Howe, Hart Trophy, John Tavares, Jonathan Toews, Mario Lemieux, Martin St. Louis, New York Islanders, Ottawa Senators, Patrick Kane, Pittsburgh Penguins, Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, Wayne Gretzky