The start of the NHL season is here, and everyone is wondering: Who will be the best in the league this year? Whether it’s the best player or the best team, everyone wants to either be the best or beat the best. The Hart Memorial trophy is handed out every year to the league’s most valuable player. Last year the finalists for the award were Jamie Benn, Sidney Crosby and Patrick Kane, with Kane being the eventual winner. At the time of publishing Auston Matthews has 4 goals in the first 40 minutes of his NHL career. He has to be the Hart favorite, right? Not so fast.
Jamie Benn – Benn has the most goals for per 60 minutes in the NHL over the last 3 seasons by a substantial amount, being ahead of teammate Tyler Seguin, who is second, 3.45GF/60 to 3.32GF/60. Being a consistent performer for years has made Jamie Benn a Hart trophy finalist in 2016. Benn and Seguin will both be good enough to be up for the Hart trophy this season, but only 1 star will be nominated for it and that is Benn.
Connor McDavid – Connor McDavid doesn’t turn 20 until January, and it’s no surprise that he made this list. He’s that good. In his first year in the league, McDavid put up a point per game rate higher than Sidney Crosby did (1.07 points/game vs 1.06). With another season in the league, with more experience, and a lot more health, it can easily be expected that McDavid will be a Hart trophy contender.
Carey Price – The Montreal Canadiens proved that without Price they are nothing. He won the league MVP two years ago leading the Canadiens to the playoffs. Returning to fine form with Canada in the World Cup of hockey, Price showed that he still has it. The Canadiens, on the other hand, need him more than ever if they’re going to make the playoffs. Price will lead the Canadiens to the playoffs and be a Hart finalist.
Joe Pavelski – This is probably where you except us to put Auston Matthews. Well, Joel isn’t writing this article. Pavelski has officially taken over as The Guy in San Jose, taking over for Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau, as the Sharks made the Stanley Cup Final last year. Putting up 116 goals over the last three seasons probably means that Pavelski shouldn’t count as a wild card anymore, but he often doesn’t get the credit that he deserves. Another point a game season will have Pavelski might finally be what Pavelski needs to get the Hart nomination he’s been working towards since 2013-14.
The Winner: Jamie Benn