2014-15 NHL Picks and Predictions: Picking the Major Award Winners: In the NHL, the Hart Memorial Trophy is the equivalent of the MVP Award in other professional sports, and it is given to the player deemed to be the most valuable to their team over the course of the year. As is usually the case, offensive players have had a huge advantage. The last goalie to take home the Hart Memorial Trophy was Jose Theodore in 2001-02, and the last defenseman to receive the honor was Chris Pronger in 1999-2000. Last year, Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby took home the award, and here is a closer look at the players with the best chance of taking home the Hart Memorial Trophy in the 2014-15 season.
He is the defending winner of the Hart Trophy, and Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby reminded everyone that he is the best all-around offensive weapon in the NHL when healthy. He scored 36 goals and dished out 68 assists, leading the league in points by a wide margin with 104. Crosby is a magician with the puck, and with plenty of weapons around him, he could end up with his third career MVP and second straight when the 2014-15 season wraps up.
Three-time Hart Trophy winner Alexander Ovechkin can be a one-man wrecking crew on offense, and the Washington Capitals star is still as good as any player in the NHL and putting the puck in the net. In fact, his 51 goals last year were eight more than any other player. There is a reason that Ovechkin has won three MVPs already in his career, and when he is rolling, he can absolutely carry the Capitals. Few players can match his combination of value to his team and individual talent.
An injury limited Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin to 60 games last year, but when he was on the ice, he was as good as any player in the league at scoring points. In fact, Malkin tallied 72 points, ranking second overall with 1.20 points per game. He finished with 23 goals and 49 assists, and if Malkin can stay healthy for an entire season, there is no reason the 2011-12 Hart Memorial Trophy winner can win the award again.
He was having another stellar season when he was lost for the year to an injury during the Olympic break, but New York Islanders star John Tavares will be ready to go when the 2014-15 season begins. In 59 games last year, he scored 24 goals and tallied 42 assists, ranking fourth in the NHL in points per game. Since his rookie year, Tavares has 261 points in 268 games, and as long as he can stay healthy, he is a lock to have the type of numbers that will put him in the mix for MVP honors.
After stringing together several solid years, Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf finally put it all together last year. He ranked third in the NHL with 1.13 points per game, finishing second in the league with 87 points. Getzlaf scored 31 goals and logged 57 assists, showcasing his ability to carry the offensive load in a variety of ways. Getzlaf has quietly become the best all-around offensive player for a talented Ducks team, and if he backs up his numbers from last season, an MVP isn’t out of the question.
A gruesome leg injury cost him most of last season, and Tampa Bay Lightning star Steven Stamkos has actually battled injuries in each of the past two seasons. However, Stamkos has still been productive when he has been on the ice, tallying 97 points in 85 games over the past two seasons. Meanwhile, he topped 90 points in his last three healthy seasons, scoring 60 goals in 2011-12. If Stamkos can avoid the injury bug, a big rebound year could end with Hart Trophy honors.
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