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NHL Mid-Season Power Rankings: Hart Trophy Edition

The Hart Trophy, given to the player most valuable to his team, has long been the subject of debate amongst fans and writers. So let's have some fun.
Alex Ovechkin

By Steven McGoey

The Hart Trophy, given to the player most valuable to his team, has long been the subject of debate amongst fans and writers.

This year's race is wide open following the All-Star break, with three former winners included on this list.

Goaltenders have typically not been highly regarded for this award, even though many should be. So we're going to focus on just skaters for this today:

1. Alex Ovechkin - Washington Capitals

At 36-years-old Ovechkin is once again proving that age is just a number, currently fifth in the league in scoring with 29 goals and 59 points in 47 games.

Ovechkin has helped them overcome shaky goaltending and they sit comfortably in a playoff spot despite the recent struggles.

A three-time Hart Trophy winner, Ovechkin has had this success despite his usual set-up man Nicklas Backstrom playing only 14 games and TJ Oshie playing just 18.

Ovechkin leads the league with 21 even strength goals and is tied with Johnny Gaudreau for most even strength points with 44. He's also second in the league in scoring chances and first in shot attempts, to make his case look even stronger.

Ovechkin is not the Hart favorite on most betting sites, but at this point in his career, doubt him at your own cost.

2. Connor McDavid - Edmonton Oilers

Well, duh.

Widely regarded as the best player in the world, McDavid does run the risk of suffering from voter fatigue. Currently in his seventh NHL season, the 25-year-old has won the Hart twice and has been in the top five in voting three other times.

Oh, the struggles of being the best.

McDavid is tied for third in the league in scoring with 61 points in 43 games for a 1.46 points per game rate that is above his career average.

After his incredible 105 point run in just 56 games last season, McDavid leads the league in on ice expected goals for, while the Oilers dominate in possession, scoring chances, and goals for when McDavid is on the ice.

3. Auston Matthews - Toronto Maple Leafs

The 2021 Rocket Richard Trophy winner has turned himself into a strong two-way player over the past two seasons and has cemented himself in the Hart conversation.

Arguably the best pure goal-scorer in the league, Matthews sits third with 31 goals, 12 more than the next closest Maple Leaf.

Matthews has produced a league high 221 individual scoring chances in all situations, 42 more than second place Ovechkin.

The 24-year-old has shown the ability to take over games, with the team getting 66 percent of the scoring chances while he's on the ice.

4. Leon Draisaitl - Edmonton Oilers

No matter what happens in Edmonton, it's hard to overlook Draisaitl based on the level of offensive production he provides in all aspects of the game.

The 26-year-old is averaging 1.5 points per game (first among players with at least 20 games played) and sits second in the league in scoring with 64 points in 44 games.

Draisaitl leads all forwards in average ice-time with 22:53 and is one of the deadliest special teams players in the NHL. A solid 62.8 percent on ice expected goals percentage shows the impact Draisaitl has offensively.

Often regarded as a set-up man, Draisaitl is second in the league with 32 goals, 18 of them at even strength, and a league-high eight of them being game winners.

It's not easy being No. 2 to McDavid, but points-wise in Edmonton, he's No. 1

5. Jonathan Huberdeau - Florida Panthers

One of the more understated players in the league, Huberdeau has played himself into the Hart conversation, leading the league in both assists (47) and points (64) coming out of the break.

The 28-year-old is tied for the league lead with 28 primary assists and sits one point behind Ovechkin and Gaudreau for most even strength points.

The Saint-Jerome, QC, native is a fantastic playmaker and his ability to create opportunities for both himself and his teammates makes him one of the most valuable players in the league.

Data via Natural Stat Trick and MoneyPuck


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