The NHL’s Hart Trophy is given to the player who is most valuable to his team.
Note the criteria. Most valuable to his team.
But fans look at it as an MVP award for the NHL, even though the Ted Lindsay Award serves that purpose.
Each of this year’s Hart finalists can make a strong case for winning the trophy June 21 at the NHL’s Awards Show at T-Mobile Arena. Pittsburgh center Sidney Crosby, Edmonton center Connor McDavid and Columbus goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky are the contenders.
Let’s break down the three.
Bobrovsky started 63 of Columbus’ 82 games and won 41 of those starts. He had a 2.06 goals-against average and .931 save percentage. His play was a major part of the Blue Jackets’ best season, during which they had a record 50 victories and 108 points while making the playoffs for the third time.
Forwards Cam Atkinson, 35 goals, and Nick Foligno, 26 goals, had good seasons. But it doesn’t match Bobrovsky’s productivity. He was clearly Columbus’ best player, and given the franchise’s turnaround from 2016, when it went 34-40-8 and missed the playoffs, his impact on the team makes him Hart-worthy.
Then there’s McDavid, the Oilers’ captain. He led the NHL in scoring, so he’ll receive the Art Ross Trophy in Las Vegas. He was the catalyst in getting his team to the playoffs for the first time since 2006.
McDavid’s talent also has lifted the team’s level of play; the Oilers made the playoffs this season for the first time since 2006.
But he had help. Leon Draisaitl scored 29 goals, Patrick Maroon 27, Milan Lucic 23 and Jordan Eberle 20. Cam Talbot’s play in goal also was key. But it starts with No. 97, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he wins the Hart.
Finally, there’s Crosby, considered the NHL’s best player. The Penguins’ center had another outstanding season with 44 goals and 89 points in 75 games. And he flourished during a season in which Pittsburgh dealt with injuries to key players, most notably defenseman Kris Letang. Only Phil Kessel played all 82 regular-season games.
Crosby clearly is Pittsburgh’s most important player.
So who will win the award? There’s a lot of love for McDavid, though some voters see Crosby as the man. Bobrovsky most likely will come up short, though he probably received support from purists who understand the value of great goaltending.
Lindsay Award finalists
Crosby and McDavid also are finalists for the Ted Lindsay Award, which goes to the league’s outstanding player and is voted on by the NHL Players Association. The third finalist is San Jose’s Brent Burns, who is attempting to become the first defenseman to win since Bobby Orr in 1975, when it was the Lester B. Pearson Award.
Shipachyov’s contract reworked
The NHL is expected Sunday to approve a revised contract submitted by the Golden Knights for free-agent center Vadim Shipachyov after the original pact contained a clause he wasn’t eligible for.
Shipachyov, who has been playing in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League for SKA St. Petersburg, signed a two-year, $9 million contract Thursday that included a no-trade provision.
But the 30-year-old Russian is not eligible for a no-trade or no-movement deal. The NHL returned the original contract, and the Knights reworked the language.
Treliving stays put
The Calgary Flames wisely decided to keep general manager Brad Treliving, extending his contract.
Details of the multiyear contract were not released. Treliving has been with the Flames since 2014, and Calgary made the playoffs in 2015 and 2017.
There had been speculation that Buffalo would go after Treliving.
Zucker’s surgery successful
Minnesota Wild left wing Jason Zucker underwent successful surgery Thursday to repair a muscle in his midsection. The 25-year-old Las Vegan is expected to be ready for training camp.
Zucker had 22 goals and 25 assists in 79 games this season, all career highs. He also had a plus-34 rating, tied with teammate Ryan Suter for the NHL lead.
Steve Carp’s weekly NHL notebook appears Sundays. Contact him at email@example.com or 702-387-2913. Follow @stevecarprj on Twitter.
The week’s three stars
1. Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim. The Ducks would be on the golf course if not for their captain’s play against the Oilers.
2. Jake Guentzel, Pittsburgh. He has eight goals in the playoffs for the Penguins.
3. Oscar Lindberg, New York. He has three goals in the past two games to help the Rangers get back in the series against Ottawa.