|Credit: Geoff Burke - USA Today Sports|
What does it mean to win the Hart Trophy? You have to be valuable to your team, yes, but another factor to be taken into consideration is where your team would be without you. Jamie Benn is having a standout season in Dallas this year, but he's not a likely candidate for the Hart - Tyler Seguin, John Klingberg, and the goaltending tandem would likely have that team in the playoffs without Benn.
No, we aren't looking for players like Patrick Kane on this list; we're looking for players whose teams would be sunk by their absence.
Here, in no particular order, are the three likeliest candidates to win the Hart Trophy this coming summer.
The Flames' #13 is enjoying a banner year in the C of Red, leading Calgary in scoring with 39 points in 35 games (through Dec. 28, 2015). Though the Flames suffered through a horrendous start to the season, going 2-8-1 through their first eleven games, the club has enjoyed a massive resurgence lately with a 9-2-0 record thus far in the month of December, a month in which Gaudreau has an astounding 18 points (including 12 goals) and two hat-tricks.
The Flames are also currently riding a 11-game home-ice winning streak, on which Gaudreau has 22 points (including 15 goals). Since the start of Gaudreau's hot streak, the Flames have jumped from last in the NHL to one point back of 2nd place in the Pacific Division. If Gaudreau, who is currently tied for sixth in the NHL in points, can keep his pace and carry the Flames to the playoffs, he'll be a contender for the Hart for sure.
Braden Holtby is having a fantastic season in D.C. His 23 wins rank first in the NHL, as does his sparkling 1.86 goals against average. To further accentuate his 2015-16 greatness, his tallies in the save percentage (3rd), shutouts (9th), and saves (7th) columns all rank in the top 10 for each category. Holtby (23-4-1) is making saves that lesser goalies dream of...
...and he's being called the Caps' best player by a superstar in his own right, Alex Ovechkin. Everything he's doing is working, and he's propelling the Capitals up the NHL standings. As of this writing, Washington was sitting with 56 points - one back of Dallas for the top mark in the NHL.
Hi, I'm Erik Karlsson. I'm a two-time Norris Trophy winner, and here's why I deserve to win the Hart Trophy.
- I currently lead the entire NHL in assists. Not just by a defenseman - I lead the entire NHL.
- I am currently fourth in the entire NHL in points - again, the entire NHL.
- I am currently leading Mike Hoffman, a forward, and the second-highest point scorer on my team, by seven points.
- Among the top 8 scorers on my team, my shooting percentage is the lowest.
- Among the top 20 scorers in the entire NHL, my shooting percentage is second-lowest.
- I have fantastic hair.
- I sometimes make plays like this:
- And because of all of this, my Ottawa Senators team is currently holding on to a playoff spot. Where would they be without me?