As the 2021-22 NHL season skates to a conclusion, there has been a lot of discussion around which player should win the NHL’s Hart Memorial Trophy as the league’s Most Valuable Player. The Hart trophy is voted by the members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association and is awarded to the player determined to be the most valuable member to his team during the NHL regular season.
In recent years, there has been some murmurs about how votes are cast (or should be cast) in light of market bias and true player value to their team. For example, should the Hart go to the player with the most overall points in the NHL, as it so often does? Should it go to a player who is on a non-playoff team? It’s something that is debated every year.
Edmonton Oilers’ game breaker, Connor McDavid won the Hart trophy last year in 2021 and has won it twice in the past five seasons (2017 being the other). He should be a finalist this year again. Of course there have been some strong performances this season, so it is not a slam dunk for the player who will eventually win it. Prior to getting into our list of 2022 candidates for the Hart Trophy, here are some things to consider:
- Why not have a new trophy or two Hart Trophies awarded to a player in each conference? An MVP from the East and an MVP from the West? As Pierre Lebrun recently wrote on The Athletic, it just might be time to change the definition of the Hart Trophy from most valuable to most outstanding.
- It would be interesting to ensure that Professional Hockey Writers’ Association votes were equally distributed between the East and the West. Historically there is a bit of Eastern bias that has creeped into voting.
- What about the fans having 30% of the vote? After all, it is the fans who pay for tickets and merchandise to watch their favourite teams and players. It’s the fans that keep the league running. Perhaps they should have a little say in whom is the league MVP?
2022 NHL Hart Memorial Trophy Candidates
Here is a look at the players whom the Hockey Fanatic feels should receive consideration for the Hart trophy (and maybe a few reasons as to why they won’t).
#10. Sidney Crosby – Pittsburgh Penguins – you have to give credit to the strong season that Sidney Crosby is having in Pittsburgh. At 34 years old, Sid is no kid anymore and he has his Penguins in a playoff spot and currently in third in the Metropolitan Division. At the time of this writing he has 7 GWGs and has amassed 72 points in 59 games.
Why he won’t win: There are simply some other NHLers who are having dynamite seasons. Which takes us to our player in the number nine spot…
#9. Nazim Kadri – Colorado Avalanche – for most the this season Nazem Kadri has led the Avalanche in scoring and would have pushed close towards the 100-point plateau had it not been for a recent injury. His 83 points in 65 games is already a career high and is one of the higher points per game percentages for players with 50 or more points.
Why he won’t win: The Avalanche are a team with a lot of talent at all positions. You’ve got Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen up front and off course young D-man Cale Makar is playing like a cross between Paul Coffey and Bobby Orr.
#8. Cale Makar – Colorado Avalanche – Makar has quickly become one of the most entertaining players in the game today. From his highlight reel rushes and goals, expect Cale Makar to win a Norris or two in upcoming season. Arguably one of the top three defensemen in the league today.
Why he won’t win: See Roman Josi.
#7. Johnny Gaudreau – Calgary Flames – Johnny Hockey is having his best season of his NHL career, and it’s a contract year for the diminutive player. With a couple of weeks left in the NHL regular season, Gaudreau will surpass the 100-point plateau and set a career high for assists in a season. He’s on pace to finish with 108-110 points possibly finishing in top four in NHL point production. T
Why he won’t win: Part of the reason the Flames have their record is because of solid play in their own end and the excellent season of goaltender Jacob Markstrom. Is Johnny Gaudreau even the most valuable member of his team? Markstrom’s performance might have something to say about that.
#6. Jonathan Huberdeau – Florida Panthers – coming in at number six on our list is Jonathan Huberdeau. Playing on a stacked Florida Panthers team, the left winger has challenged Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl for the NHL lead in points all season.
Why he won’t win: The Panthers have a lot of fire power and it’s hard to clearly suggest just who is their most valuable player? Alex Barkov and Sergei Bobrovsky are also strong candidates.
#5. Leon Draissaitl – Edmonton Oilers – The German Gretzky is having yet another strong NHL season. The former Hart trophy winner (2020) has again surpassed the 50 goal and 100 point milestones. He plays big minutes for the Oilers and can carry the team on his back at times.
Why he won’t win: Do Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl cannibalize votes from each other? They most certainly do and that works against both of them.
#4. Auston Matthews – Toronto Maple Leafs – sorry Leafs fans and Eastern hockey writers. While Auston Matthews is having a very strong season, there are still a couple of performances that are just a bit stronger. And yes we know that Matthews has done something no other Leafs’ player has done ever, in that he should score 60 goals this season, the contributions to the team from Mitch Marner cannot be overlooked. Is Matthews the games greatest goal scorer today? Well maybe, but is he the most valuable player to his team? Debatable, especially looking at performances from some of the others from around the league.
Why he won’t win: Matthews has a very strong chance of winning the Hart trophy this season, but you have to argue is he more valuable to his team that the players ahead of him in our list?
#3. Roman Josi – Nashville Predators – Roman Josi was having an under-the-radar season until recently when folks starting looking more closely just at what he has accomplished this season. He will be the first defensemen in 30 years to reach the 90 point plateau. Josi could very well reach the 100-point milestone. He is having a historic NHL season. Who thought that the Nashville Predators were going to be a playoff team this season? Well you can thank their defense and specifically Roman Josi for the great season that the team is having.
Why he won’t win: We are not so sure that he won’t win, but the players in our top two spots just might have something to say about it.
#2. Igor Shesterkin – New York Rangers – Are the Rangers even a playoff team this season without the strong play of Shesterkin? He currently has a .935 save percentage leading all NHL goaltenders who have played six or more games and has backstopped the Rangers to second place in the Metropolitan Division and third in the Eastern conference. How many of you saw that coming?
Why he won’t win: There is no doubt that Igor Shesterkin is the most valuable player to his team and it will be close in voting between he, Matthews and McDavid.
#1: Connor McDavid – Edmonton Oilers – hearing all the debate recently about who is going to win the Hart trophy, it truly amazes me when Connor McDavid’s name is not mentioned as much as say Matthews, Shesterkin or others. McDavid has had another amazing season and unlike many of the others has had to undergo yet another coaching change, sub-par goaltending that robbed Oilers of wins and a Covid-outbreak that went throughout the entire team save two players. The man is on pace for 120-125 points the most since Nikita Kucherov had 128 points in the 2018-19 season and possibly the highest points total since 1995-96 when Mario Lemieux had 161 points. If memory serves, both of those players won the Hart Trophy during those seasons.
Why he won’t win: As mentioned McDavid and Draisaitl will most likely be splitting votes and there is an Eastern bias as to the performances of Auston Matthews in the center of the universe and Igor Shesterkin in New York. Not to mention the “Connor-McDavid Factor” whereby Connor simply does so much all of the time that it has almost becomes expected. There is no doubt that the Edmonton Oilers are nowhere near where they are in the standings without Connor McDavid in the lineup.
The race for the 2022 Hart Trophy is a strong one and any one of five players could win it as the league’s most valuable player.