It’s almost time to vote for the Hart Trophy and I’ve got to be honest, I am not even close to picking my winner.
I will say, though, I have narrowed it down to four candidates – goalies Martin Brodeur of the New Jersey Devils and Roberto Luongo of the Vancouver Canucks, left winger Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals and right winger Jarome Iginla of the Calgary Flames.
I firmly believe, had Sidney Crosby not missed so much action with that high ankle sprain, he would have repeated as the Hart winner. Oh well.
There is a big part of me that wants to make Ovechkin No. 1 (out of five) on my ballot, but I am struggling with the fact his team may not make the playoffs. Part of me thinks he should win it because without him the Capitals wouldn’t even be in contention for a playoff spot.
And if the award were for the best player this season, he’d win it hands-down. Voters are supposed to reward “The player adjudged to be most valuable to his team.” Has anybody been more valuable to his team than Ovechkin?
Then again, I have admired the way Iginla has played for the Flames. Through 72 games he ranked third in NHL scoring with 45 goals and 87 points. With the exception of a 10-game goalless drought from Jan. 8 through Feb. 4, he has been marvelous. He leads by example, often dropping his gloves to make his point.
Luongo has been spectacular once again for the Canucks. Is it his fault they don’t offer him scoring support? Of course not! Like Ovechkin, he may fall into the category of great season, but no playoffs. It should be noted, however, without Luongo, the Canucks would be gunning for a lottery draft pick and not a playoff spot.
Brodeur just may be the sentimental favorite. Gone are the days when he relaxed between the pipes while Scott Stevens, Scott Niedermayer and Brian Rafalski kept attackers at bay. Now, he makes stops with the likes of Colin White (who has improved drastically, but was a No. 5 defender in the glory days), Johnny Oduya and Mike Mottau patrolling the blueline.
With a few weeks to go, the Hart Trophy is still wide open from my perspective. So wide open, in fact, Daniel Alfredsson might sneak into the pack with a strong finish.
Mike Brophy, the co-author of the book Walking with Legends, is a senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor on THN.com. His blog appears Mondays and his column, Double OT, appears Wednesday.
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