This season, Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin won the seventh Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy of his career after leading the league with 49 goals during his age 32 season. After declaring the Caps “were not going to be suck” in the preseason, Ovechkin backed up his talk and wore a shirt with that quote adorned on it, guiding his team to a third straight Metropolitan Division title. The Capitals finished third overall in the Eastern Conference (105 standings points) despite losing several key depth players during the offseason and both Barry Trotz and Brian MacLellan in the final years of their contracts.
Ovechkin scored 19 percent of the Capitals’ goals this season (49 out of 259 total goals), highest in the league, yet when the three finalists in Hart Trophy voting were announced Friday night, as voted by the Pro Hockey Writers’ Association, the Russian machine was no where to be found.
Taylor Hall, Anze Kopitar, and Nathan MacKinnon were announced as the three finalists of the award. The trophy goes “to the player adjudged to be the most valuable to his team,”
The four league leaders in points (Connor McDavid, Claude Giroux, Nikita Kucherov, and Evgeni Malkin) and the three league leaders in goals (Ovechkin, Patrik Laine, and William Karlsson) were all snubbed in the voting. Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy also had a strong season in net and worthy of consideration.
More from the NHL:
New Jersey Devils left wing Taylor Hall, Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar and Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon are the three finalists for the 2017-18 Hart Memorial Trophy, awarded “to the player adjudged to be the most valuable to his team,” the National Hockey League announced today.
Members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association submitted ballots for the Hart Trophy at the conclusion of the regular season, with the top three vote-getters designated as finalists. The winner will be announced Wednesday, June 20, during the 2018 NHL Awards™ presented by Hulu at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.
Following are the finalists for the Hart Trophy, in alphabetical order:
Taylor Hall, LW, New Jersey Devils
Hall ranked sixth in the NHL with 39-54—93 (76 GP), setting career highs across the board to propel the Devils to a 27-point improvement in the standings and their first playoff appearance since 2011-12. Hall recorded 41 more points than his next-closest teammate (Nico Hischier: 20-32—52), the highest such differential by a club’s top two scorers since 2007-08 (Alex Ovechkin: 112, Nicklas Backstrom: 69 w/ WSH). He collected points in 26 straight personal appearances from Jan. 2 – March 6 (18-20—38), a franchise record and the longest such streak by any player since 2015-16. Hall also set a club record with a 19-game point streak during that span (Jan. 30 – March 6: 13-13—26). The 26-year-old Calgary native and first-time NHL Trophy finalist is seeking to become the first player in Devils history to capture the Hart Trophy; goaltender Martin Brodeur finished third in voting in 2002-03, 2003-04 and 2006-07.
Anze Kopitar, C, Los Angeles Kings
Kopitar finished one point behind Hall in scoring (35-57—92 in 82 GP), nearly tripling his goal total and doubling his point total from 2016-17 (12-40—52 in 76 GP) to power the Kings to their seventh playoff berth in the past nine years. He became the first Los Angeles player to reach the 90-point milestone since 1993-94 (Wayne Gretzky: 38-92—130), also setting career highs in all three major scoring categories. Kopitar, who posted his first career four-goal game March 22 at COL, placed 31 points ahead of his next-closest teammate (Dustin Brown: 28-33—61), aided by a career-best 10-game point streak Oct. 26 – Nov. 16 (3-9—12). The 30-year-old Jesenice, Slovenia, native and two-time Stanley Cup champion is vying for his third NHL Award after winning the Frank J. Selke Trophy and Lady Byng Memorial Trophy in 2015-16. Only one player in Kings history has captured the Hart Trophy: Gretzky in 1988-89.
Nathan MacKinnon, C, Colorado Avalanche
MacKinnon placed second in the NHL with 1.31 points per game (39-58—97 in 74 GP) to guide the Avalanche to a 47-point improvement in the standings, matching the fourth-highest year-to-year gain in League history. MacKinnon, who registered 16-37—53 last season (82 GP), increased his goal total by 23 and point total by 44 to lift Colorado from last place in the 2016-17 NHL standings to its first playoff berth since 2013-14. He did so on the strength of 12 game-winning goals, tied for the League lead as well as the most in franchise history (Joe Sakic: 2000-01). MacKinnon also notched 13 three-point performances, second in the NHL and the most by an Avalanche player since 2002-03 (Peter Forsberg: 14). The 22-year-old Halifax, N.S., native and 2013-14 Calder Memorial Trophy winner is vying to become the third player in franchise history to win the Hart Trophy, following Sakic (2000-01) and Forsberg (2002-03).
The Hart Memorial Trophy was presented by the NHL in 1960 after the original Hart Trophy was retired to the Hockey Hall of Fame. The original Hart Trophy was donated to the NHL in 1924 by Dr. David A. Hart, father of Cecil Hart, former manager-coach of the Montreal Canadiens.
The three finalists for NHL Trophies are being announced by NBC Sports in the United States and Sportsnet/TVA Sports in Canada during pregame programming for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The series of announcements continues on Monday, April 30, when the three finalists for the King Clancy Memorial Trophy will be unveiled.
2018 NHL Awards™ presented by Hulu
The 2018 NHL Awards™ presented by Hulu will be held Wednesday, June 20, at The Joint, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino’s state-of-the-art concert and entertainment venue. It marks the second year that the NHL Awards™ will be held at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, home to world-class entertainment, dining and party hotspots as well as concerts and special events. NBCSN and Sportsnet will broadcast the event live in the United States and Canada, respectively, at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT.
A full lineup of presenters and entertainment will be announced at a later date. Fans can tweet about the event using the official hashtag #NHLAwards.
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