Wayne Gretzky knows a thing or two about the Hart Memorial Trophy.
He won nine of them.
And he had his hands on a 10th Wednesday night at the NHL’s postseason awards show at T-Mobile Arena. But that one was for a different Edmonton Oilers center: second-year phenom Connor McDavid.
McDavid, 20, hockey’s most prized prospect since Sidney Crosby, validated the lofty expectations that have accompanied him since his adolescent years and accepted the Hart Memorial Trophy from The Great One, himself a former Oiler, to stake his claim as the league’s MVP.
McDavid, who led the league in points with 100 and guided the Oilers to the second round of the Western Conference playoffs, beat out fellow finalists Crosby and Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky to become the youngest Hart Trophy winner since a 19-year-old Crosby won the award in 2007.
“I don’t even know how to explain how much that meant for (Gretzky) to be presenting the trophy,” McDavid said. “The guy who has won it more times than any other player. Probably the best player to ever play. It just means so much.”
McDavid showcased some of his potential in 2015-16 but missed 37 games with a broken collarbone and finished with 16 goals and 32 assists.
He played in all 82 games this season when the Oilers unleashed him as a do-it-all playmaker and finished with 30 goals and 70 assists while helping Edmonton to its first playoff berth since 2006.
Crosby finished runner-up to McDavid in the voting and spoke glowingly about the new MVP.
“He’s worked hard to get to this point to do the things he’s done at an early age,” Crosby said. “I think he’s very deserving. He had an unbelievable year.”
McDavid also won the Ted Lindsay Award as the NHLPA’s most outstanding player and was named the EA Sports’ NHL 18 cover athlete.
Bobrovsky finished third in Hart Trophy voting but didn’t leave T-Mobile Arena empty-handed. He won his second Vezina Trophy as the league’s best goaltender. He led the league with a 2.06 goals against average.
Brent Burns of the San Jose Sharks claimed the Norris Trophy as the league’s top defenseman. He scored 29 goals and paced all defensemen with 76 points, ninth among all players.
“For me to be successful, to help the team, I’ve got to help create offense,” Burns said. “If I’m not doing that … then I’m not really doing much out there.”
Toronto Maple Leafs phenom Auston Matthews won rookie of the year honors and was awarded the Calder Trophy after finishing tied for second in the league in goals with 40.
Other notable winners included Columbus’ John Tortorella (coach of the year) and Nashville’s David Poile (general manager of the year).
But Wednesday night was all about McDavid, the Oilers’ wunderkind once hailed as the future of hockey who inevitably morphed his way into one of the faces of the sport before he can buy a beer.
“I’m sure tonight when I put my head on the pillow … that’s when it’ll sink in,” McDavid said. “To see the trophies up close and personal, touch them … it makes it a little bit more real. Today is a very special day in my life, for sure.”
Contact Sam Gordon at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @BySamGordon on Twitter.
NHL awards winners
— Hart Memorial Trophy, MVP — Connor McDavid, C, Columbus
— Vezina Trophy, goaltender — Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus
— James Norris Memorial Trophy, defenseman — Brent Burns, San Jose
— Calder Memorial Trophy, rookie — Auston Matthews, F, Toronto
— Frank J. Selke Trophy, defensive forward — Patrice Bergeron, C, Boston
— Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, most gentlemanly — Johnny Gaudreau, F, Calgary
— Jack Adams Award, coach — John Tortorella, Columbus
— King Clancy Trophy, humanitarian contribution to hockey — Nick Foligno, F, Columbus
— Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award, great leadership qualities on and off the ice — Nick Foligno, F, Columbus
— NHL Foundation Player Award, applies commitment, perseverance and teamwork to enrich his community — Travis Hamonic, D, N.Y. Islanders
— NHL General Manager of the Year Award — David Poile, Nashville
— Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey — Craig Anderson, G, Ottawa
Awards based on regular-season statistics
— Art Ross Trophy, points scoring leader — Connor McDavid, Edmonton
— Maurice Richard Trophy, goal-scoring leader — Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh
— William M. Jennings Trophy, goalies with fewest goals against, minimum 25 games — Braden Holtby, Washington
Award voted on by NHL Players’ Association
— Ted Lindsay Award, outstanding player — Connor McDavid, Edmonton
(Formerly called the Lester B. Pearson Award)