Last Updated: 2017-10-02
The Hart Memorial Trophy is awarded annually to the “player judged most valuable to his team” and is voted upon by the members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association. Votes are cast at the end of the regular season before the playoffs begin but aren’t revealed until the NHL Awards night upon the conclusion of the Stanley Cup Final.
|Hart Memorial Trophy Odds
| Connor McDavid (EDM) +140
||Sidney Crosby (PIT) +275
||Auston Matthews (TOR) +850
| Alex Ovechkin (WSH) +950
||Patrick Kane (CHI) +1400
||Vladimir Tarasenko (STL) +1600
|Evgeni Malkin (PIT) +1800
||Carey Price (MTL) +2000
||John Tavares (NYI) +2200
|Steven Stamkos (TB) +2500
||Jamie Benn (DAL) +2500
||Erik Karlsson (OTT) +2500
|Jack Eichel (BUF) +3300
||Patrik Laine (WPG) +4000
||Nikita Kucherov (TB) +4000
|Johnny Gaudreau (CGY) +5000
||Brad Marchand (BOS) +6000
|| Ryan Getzlaf (ANA) +6000
|Braden Holtby (WSH) +6000
||Brent Burns (SJ) +6000
||Tyler Seguin (DAL) +6000
|Nicklas Backstrom (WSH) +6000
||Phil Kessel (PIT) +6000
||Artemi Panarin (CBJ) +6600
|Mark Scheifele (WPG) +6600
||Joe Pavelski (SJ) +6600
Odds Courtesy Bovada as of October 1st
A defenseman hasn’t won this award since the 1999-2000 season when St. Louis’ Chris Pronger brought home the hardware and he’s the only defenseman to win the Hart since the great Bobby Orr’s three-peat from 1969-1972.
It’s actually been more common for a goaltender to win the league’s most valuable award over the past few decades but it’s still a very uncommon occurrence. Dominik Hasek won back-to-back times in 1996-97 and 1997-98, Jose Theodore in 2001-02 and most recently, Carey Price with his incredible season in 2014-15 (Price’s win came in a season where they wasn’t a 90-point scorer, the first and only time that’s happened this century).
Since the 2000-01 season, the award has been won by a centerman eight times and by a winger six times, so there doesn’t seem to be a dominant advantage by one particular forward position and there hasn’t been a repeat winner since Alex Ovechkin in 2007-08 and 2008-09. Winners since then have been Henrik Sedin, Corey Perry, Evgeni Malkin, Ovechkin (again), Sidney Crosby, Price and Patrick Kane. All but two of those seasons the award has been won by the NHL’s top point scorer (2010-11 Perry was 3rd and 2012-13 Ovechkin was t-3rd).
Last year’s winner, Connor McDavid, led the NHL with 100 points in helping the Edmonton Oilers snap their decade long playoff drought. McDavid, “The Next One” ran away with the voting over a distant
Sidney Crosby who recorded 89 points.
So, after that little history lesson let’s take a look at how this applies to this year’s possible candidates. The only goaltender to win the award over the last decade came in a season where there was no standout offensive star. It’s hard to imagine that could happen again with all the great young talent that’s entered the league and overall scoring again on the rise the last couple years. You’re probably better off passing on Price and Holtby this season.
It’s been even more unlikely for a defenseman to win, so it might also be wise to pass on Karlsson and Burns. Karlsson had offseason surgery to repair torn tendons in his foot and still hasn’t been cleared for contact as of Sunday. It’s possible he misses the beginning of the season and might take him awhile to get going when he does return, making him a tough choice for this year’s Hart. Burns won the Norris Trophy last year as the best defenseman and finished fourth in Hart voting with a 76-point season, after a 75-point effort the previous year. Those are impressive totals for a blueliner but with the Sharks another year older it’s hard to think Burns could improve into the 85-90 point range deemed necessary for stronger consideration.
At the top of the list are McDavid and Crosby, once again, and it’s hard to argue why one of these two shouldn’t be favored to win this award every year now. These are the two best generational talents many of us have seen in our lifetime and rightly deserve to be the favorites. I certainly can’t fault anyone for firing a bet on either of these two greats, but what’s the fun of that? Let’s take a look at the rest of the list and at a couple of players who look to be mispriced here and should give us some solid value throughout the season.
Jamie Benn (+2500)
The Dallas Stars captain is often the forgotten man when discussing the best players in the NHL and after coming off a down season for him, is likely an underrated option on most people’s radar.
Benn finished tied for 20th in NHL scoring last year with just 69 points and was one of several Stars to see a dip in their production as Dallas struggled to a sixth place finish in the Central.
With expectations being at a high in Dallas after an excellent summer saw them address several of their needs, Benn should be able to regain his dominating form as he’s expected to line up beside Tyler Seguin again and newcomer Alex Radulov. The trio could form potentially the most exciting and productive scoring line in the NHL.
Here’s something you might not know – despite Benn’s tough season a year ago, he’s still scored the third most points in the NHL since the 2014-15 season, behind only Kane and Crosby. Benn actually led the NHL in scoring in 2014-15 with 87 points but inexplicably finished a distant 12th in Hart Voting that year (explain that?!). In 2015-16, the year Kane dazzled us all with his amazing 106-point season, Benn finished second in scoring with 89 points but was only third in voting.
If the Dallas Stars regain the scoring form that saw them lead the league in goals in 2015-16 (which I’m expecting) and Benn has the explosive year (I’m also expecting), hopefully voters won’t overlook him as they have in the past. Jamie Benn at +2500 for this year’s Hart Memorial Trophy is a solid value pick.
Nikita Kucherov (+4000)
The young Russian sniper had a breakout performance last year with Tampa Bay scoring 40 goals and 85 points, good for a tie of fifth in NHL scoring and eighth in Hart voting. Kucherov has increased his scoring output in each of his four NHL seasons to date and cemented himself on the top line in Tampa Bay. With a healthy Steven Stamkos set to return the Bolts are expected to once again be a serious contender for the Stanley Cup and their top line should terrorize the Atlantic division all season long. Some may be worried the return of Stamkos could take some of his scoring but I think it should be looked upon as what Stamkos adds to the equation and how it could help boost Kucherov’s point totals further. Whether he’s scoring goals with his incredibly accurate shot or feeding Stamkos with his equally strong playmaking abilities, Kucherov has the potential to hit the 100-point mark this season which should put him in the conversation. There’s a lot worse bets on the board than Nikita Kucherov at +4000 for this year’s Hart Memorial Trophy and he’s our top longshot value pick of the year.
Honorable Mention: Brad Marchand (+6000)
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