The Hart Trophy is the pinnacle of individual achievement in the NHL. It often defaults to the league’s leading scorer, but the award is so much more than that. As the award for the league’s most valuable player, it helps recognize the player who contributes or is the biggest part of his team’s success. It makes sense that the player who scores the most also contributes the most to the team’s success, but it is not the end-all-be-all factor.
So, following up on some early Jack Adams Award and Calder Trophy favourites, here are some 2022-23 Hart Trophy favourites so far! Included are a few players who have been extremely important to their team’s success, beyond just scoring a lot of points.
2022-23 Hart Trophy Favourites
Would a Hart Trophy favourites list ever not include the league’s best player? Not likely. Connor McDavid, as usual, finds himself as one of the leading candidates for the Hart Trophy early on this season. With 62 points in 32 games, including a league-leading 28 goals, he is somehow having yet another career year offensively.
McDavid also has 28 goals in 32 games, putting him on the 50-in-50 watch list. He would become the first player since Brett Hull in 1991-92 to accomplish the feat of scoring 50 goals in his team’s first 50 games.
As McDavid settles into his prime and into his role as a captain, he is becoming a more vocal and outspoken leader for the Oilers. Almost everything that happens for his team runs through him.
For a team whose success relies on its offense, McDavid is an automatic Hart Trophy favourite because of how much of the offense he contributes.
It’s always good to have some variety on these lists, and luckily there is a goalie who is absolutely worthy of being a Hart Trophy favourite this season. Linus Ullmark has quite possibly been the best player on a Boston Bruins team that sits atop the NHL standings. His performance in the net has been a major factor in the Bruins’ somewhat unexpected start to the season.
Through 21 games, Ullmark has a 17-1-1 record with a 1.83 GAA and a .938 SV%. He leads the league in all three categories amongst goalies with more than nine games played. His 15.7 goals saved above expected places him in a tie with Connor Hellebuyck for second in the league, showing that he is performing this well and it is not just a consequence of being on a good team. He is directly contributing to the success of the team.
Every once in a while, a goalie comes along and wins the Hart. Carey Price, Dominik Hasek, and Jose Theodore have all won it within the last 25 years. Ullmark has a very strong case so far for adding his name to this list.
The Toronto Maple Leafs started a bit slow this season, notably reigning Hart Trophy winner Auston Matthews, who only had two goals in his first nine games. But during that time, Mitch Marner picked up the slack.
Marner has been, all around, one of the best players in the entire league this season. Beyond his offensive contribution, currently at 37 points in 32 games (including a franchise record 23-game point streak), Marner has found a niche as an overlooked and underrated two-way forward.
In the middle of his point streak, the overlooked part of Marner’s game was his contributions without the puck.
Marner’s status as a Hart Trophy favourite this season comes from his all-around play as a compliment to his offensive contributions, something that separates him from the other forwards on this list.
A couple of seasons ago, Jason Robertson sort of came out of nowhere and put up 45 points in 51 games in his rookie season. Now this year, he is among the league’s best with 46 points in 32 games. He was leading the league in goal scoring for a bit as well, but has trailed off a bit over the past couple of weeks.
Robertson leads the Dallas Stars in scoring and is the driving force behind their offense. As the Stars are overperforming expectations as they currently lead the Central Division and are one of the top-scoring teams in the league, it is easy to look at the performance of their scoring winger as one of the big factors contributing to their success.
If he keeps the pace up and the Stars stay competitive into the playoffs, expect Robertson to get some serious consideration for the Hart Trophy.
Those are four of the 2022-23 Hart Trophy favourites heading into the end of the calendar year. Who else would you add to your ballot? Drop a comment down below!
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