TORONTO – NHL players have picked the same three finalists for the Lester B. Pearson Award who are up for the Hart Trophy as the league’s most valuable player – Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin and Pavel Datsyuk.
The Pearson Award is presented to the league’s “outstanding player” as chosen by his fellow members of the NHL Players’ Association.
The Hart goes to the player deemed most valuable to his team. It is decided in a vote among members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association.
Ovechkin has a chance to take both awards for a second year in a row.
The Washington Capitals winger has already secured a second straight Maurice (Rocket) Richard Trophy for leading the league in goals with 56.
Malkin led the league with 113 points for the Pittsburgh Penguins, three more than Ovechkin, to secure the Art Ross Trophy.
Datsyuk got his first nomination for the Pearson award. The Detroit Red Wings forward is also a candidate for a second straight Selke Trophy as the league’s best defensive forward and a fourth straight Lady Byng Trophy as the NHL’s most gentlemanly player. He tied a career high with 97 points this season.
The winners are to be announced June 18 at the NHL awards show in Las Vegas.
The players and the writers have chosen the same MVP the past two years – Sidney Crosby in 2007 and Ovechkin in 2008. But they have chosen different winners 16 times since the Pearson was first awarded to Phil Esposito in 1971.
Most recently, in 2006, Jaromir Jagr got the Pearson while Joe Thornton took the Hart.
All three finalists are Russian, so it will be the third time the Pearson will go to a player from that country. Sergei Fedorov won it in 1994.