The Hart Memorial Trophy in the National Hockey League is an annual award given “to the player adjudged to be the most valuable to his team.” There are three finalists in the end and the winner is chosen by the members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.
Last year, the finalists for the Hart Trophy were: Auston Matthews from the Toronto Maple Leafs, Connor McDavid from the Edmonton Oilers, and Igor Shesterkin from the New York Rangers. Auston Matthews won his first Hart Trophy of his career.
This has been quite a year for some players as we have approached the middle of the season. Leading the race currently is Connor McDavid, but he has plenty of competition as Nikita Kucherov, Leon Draisaitl, David Pastrnak, Jason Robertson, Tage Thompson, and Jack Hughes are all heating up.
Now let's break down the competitors:
Connor McDavid is the current favorite for the Hart Trophy this year. This 26-year-old plays for the Edmonton Oilers and was drafted first overall in the 2015 NHL Draft. He currently has 92 points with 41 goals and 51 assists in 50 games played. He has a +/- of 4 and has scored seven game-winning goals. McDavid has won the Hart Trophy twice before in the year 2016-17 and 2020-21. He is on record pace right now to end the season with around 150 points and around 70 goals. According to his fans, he is known as the best player in the world and continues to shine.
Nikita Kucherov has been quite the player for the Tampa Bay Lightning this season. This right-winger currently has 72 points with 19 goals and 53 assists. He has played in 48 games this season. Throughout the course of his nine-year career, he has won one Hart Trophy, which was during the 2018-19 season. In 2020-21, he led the playoffs in points with 32 and won the Stanley Cup in 2019-20 and 2020-21. He has become a very dangerous player when he gets in the opposing team's defensive zone and has shown that he is not going anywhere anytime soon.
A teammate of Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, is also in the conversation for the Hart Trophy. This center went third overall in the 2014 NHL Draft. This season, he has 76 points with 29 goals and 47 assists in 48 games. He currently has 36 power-play points and nine game-winning goals. He also won the Hart Trophy before during the 2019-20 season where he also won the Ted Lindsay Award and Art Ross Trophy. He continues to be a force and leader for the Edmonton Oilers.
The Boston Bruins' one and only, David Pastrnak continues to shine this season with 71 points. He has scored 38 goals and has 33 assists so far in 50 games. He currently has a +/- of 24 and in the past playoffs for the Bruins, he has been very good. He continues to be a star on the Bruins and has helped them have a very successful season so far.
Jason Roberton may have gotten drafted in the second round, but he has proven that he is here for the long run and has been a great steal for the Dallas Stars. He currently has 66 points coming from his 33 goals and 33 assists. He has a +/- of 26 and from Oct. 27 to Dec. 4, he had an NHL personal-best 18-game point streak. This trophy would be the first in his career as he has proven to be a keeper for the Dallas Stars.
Tage Thompson has been absolutely insane for the Buffalo Sabres this year. With his 34 goals and 34 assists, he currently has 68 points. He uses his size to his advantage as he is skating around the ice scoring goals. On December 7, the Sabres took on the Columbus Blue Jackets. This was a historic game as Thompson scored 5 goals, 4 of which were just in the first period to tie the NHL record. He continues to be great for the Sabres and watching him is very enjoyable.
Lastly, Jack Hughes has had a breakout season for the New Jersey Devils. The Devils were not playing well last season and came into this season winning 13 games in a row. Some of this was thanks to Hughes and his skills. He currently has 64 points with 33 goals and 31 assists. He got his first hat trick this season with the Devils and only has four penalty minutes. He was selected first overall in 2019 and is now helping the Devils secure a playoff spot. He continues to be a star with skillful plays and speed all around the ice.
This race will continue to get closer as the season goes along and each player grows. McDavid might be the favorite for now, but he has lots of competition, one even being his teammate.