Colorado Avalanche superstar Nathan MacKinnon was announced as one of the three finalists for the NHL’s 2020 Hart Trophy. Along with MacKinnon, Artemi Panarin of the New York Rangers and Leon Draisaitl of the Edmonton Oilers have also been named finalists. These are the same three nominees as we saw for the Ted Lindsey Award.
Unlike the Lindsey - which is the most outstanding player voted on by the players - the Hart is voted on by members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association and is awarded to the player voted to be most valuable to his team.
Draisaitl led the NHL with 43 goals and 110 points in 71 games when the season was suspended on March 12 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Panarin, who signed a seven-year contract with the Rangers last summer ended up with 32 goals and 95 points this season. He helped turn around a bottom feeding team in New York and would win the argument of which of the three nominees had the least latent around him.
MacKinnon finished the season with 35 goals and 93 points in 69 games while leading an injury riddled Avalanche team to second place in the Western Conference - just two points behind the St. Louis Blues. This is MacKinnon’s third Hart nomination in three years. The 24-year old lost to Taylor Hall in 2018.
MacKinnon has also been nominated for the the Lady Byng Trophy this year.
This should be a two horse race between MacKinnon and Panarin. unfortunately, more often than not, many PHWA voters are lazy and vote for whoever has the most points - making Draisaitl the unworthy favorite for the award. The Oilers forward is an elite offensive talent, but it debatable as to whether he was even the most valuable player on his own team, let alone in the league. The same can’t be said for Panarin and MacKinnon who were the unquestionable leaders on their team.
The winner will be announced during the Conference Finals or before the Stanley Cup Final.