The Hart Trophy is awarded annually to the player best judged to have been his team’s Most Valuable Player during the regular season. Three players are nominated, one wins. This year’s nominees are Columbus’ Sergei Bobrovsky, Edmonton’s Connor McDavid and Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby. Three worthy candidates. But that’s just three of thirty. In this short series we’ll be looking at which players deserve to be named as their team’s MVP. Today we’re looking at the Metropolitan Division. Previously we looked at Pacific Hart Trophy Nominees and Atlantic Hart Trophy Nominees.
Carolina Hurricanes: Sebastian Aho
In his first season with the Hurricanes, Aho scored 24 goals and assisted on 25. Only Jeff Skinner scored more goals. In any other draft class Aho’s season would have earned him a Calder Trophy nomination. His hat-trick against Philadelphia made him the youngest player in the history of the franchise to score a hat. Unfortunately Aho was in the same class as Zach Werenski and some dudes in Toronto so he doesn’t quite get the recognition he deserves.
Columbus Blue Jackets: Sergei Bobrovsky
An official nominee, Bobrosky’s goal tending powered the Blue Jackets all the way to the playoffs. His .931 save percentage was head and shoulders above any other goalie in the league (who played at least half a season). His 2.06 Goals Against Average was lowest in the league (same factors). It’s easy to see why Bobrovsky got the nod, on a roster of average performers he stands out.
New Jersey Devils: Taylor Hall
2010’s first overall draft pick may have struggled to find his place in Edmonton, but in the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king. That land being New Jersey. Despite missing a number of games due to surgery; Hall’s 53 points still landed him top of the Devil’s pile, tied with Kyle Palmieri. To get used to a new system so quickly is worthy of a shout and Hall, to his credit, responded well after his surprise trade for Adam Larsson.
New York Islanders: Anders Lee
Yeah he’s not JT or even JB, but he is the Islanders’ leading goalscorer and guaranteed #HiSticking winner. Lee is clutch, if you believe in that. Looking for an MVP in Brooklyn is fishing from a small pond, I almost picked Andrew Ladd just for Carl. 2016/17 may have been a forgettable season for the Isles, but for Lee, it was his best season. His 52 points far surpassed his previous best of 32.
New York Rangers: J.T. Miller
Miller played every game in the regular season, scored a bucket full of goals and assisted on a load more. His 56 points were trumped slightly by Mats Zuccarello‘s 59 but I’ve got a lot of time for Miller. He quietly gets on with his job and always manages to find the net when the Rangers need to find an advantage. Six of his 22 goals were game winners. The former first rounder has just come off a career best regular season too. And he was great in Silicon Valley.
Philadelphia Flyers: Brayden Schenn
Every team needs a goal machine, the Flyers have a few but Schenn is the guy the team should recognise as their MVP. Wayne Simmonds may have scored a few more goals but Schenn has the most powerplay and game-winning goals on the team. It was close decision between the two, but Simmonds’ ridiculous 1.4 penalty minutes per game let him down. While Schenner’s points total may have fallen four short of last season, he’s played well and clinched a good number of games for the Flyers.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Sidney Crosby
He’s Sid the Kid. It goes without saying that Crosby is the Penguins’ MVP. He scored more goals than anyone else in the regular season (44) and makes everyone around him better. The two time Hart Trophy winner is in the running for his third, and has a pretty good shot at winning, although he’s not my first choice. On a team loaded with superstars of course Crosby is important, but could the Pens have reached the playoffs without him? Most likely.
Washington Capitals: Nicklas Backstrom
It was a close call between Backstrom and Braden Holtby, but Backstrom gets the nod here. A true MVP knows when to shoot and when to pass, and Backstrom’s 63 regular season assists are testament to his unselfish play. Having stepped out of Alex Ovechkin’s shadow, Backstrom is a true leader on the ice and is dominant on the power play. His 86 point season should have stood him in good stead for a Hart Trophy nomination.
Those are our picks for each team’s MVP. Are you a fan of a team in the Metropolitan Division? Who would you pick? Comment below or join in the conversation on twitter.