NEW YORK – Edmonton Oilers center Leon Draisaitl, Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon and New York Rangers left wing Artemi Panarin are the three finalists for the 2019-20 Hart Memorial Trophy, awarded “to the player adjudged to be the most valuable to his team,” the National Hockey League announced today.
Members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association submitted ballots for the Hart Trophy after the conclusion of the regular season, with the top three vote-getters designated as finalists. The winner will be revealed during the Conference Finals, with the exact date, format and time to be determined.
Following are the finalists for the Hart Trophy (who also are the finalists for the 2019-20 Ted Lindsay Award), in alphabetical order:
Leon Draisaitl, C, Edmonton Oilers
Draisaitl (43-67-110 in 71 GP) – who became the first German-born player to win the Art Ross Trophy – topped the NHL with 110 points, 13 more than the next-closest player (Connor McDavid: 97). He registered at least one point in 56 of his 71 appearances, the highest such percentage in the League (78.9%) ahead of Panarin (78.3%) and Patrick Kane (77.1%). Draisaitl also recorded a League-best 33 multi-point performances, four more than MacKinnon and David Pastrnak (29), and led NHL forwards in both total (1,605:24) and average time on ice (22:37). Draisaitl, who reached the 100-point milestone for the second consecutive season (50 55-105 in 2018-19), paced all 2019-20 players in assists (67), power-play points (44) and game-winning goals (t-10) while also ranking among the top five in power-play goals (2nd; 16), power-play assists (2nd; 28), shooting percentage (3rd; 19.7%) and goals (4th; 43). The 24-year-old Cologne native is vying to become the first German-born player to win the Hart Trophy. He also is seeking to become the fourth player to capture the award with the Oilers, following Wayne Gretzky (8x, most recently 1986-87), Mark Messier (1989-90) and McDavid (2016-17).
Nathan MacKinnon, C, Colorado Avalanche
MacKinnon, who last week also was named a finalist for the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, ranked fifth in the NHL with 35-58-93 in 69 games to power the Avalanche (42-20-8, .657) to their third straight playoff appearance on the strength of the third-highest points percentage in the League. MacKinnon recorded 43 more points than his next-closest teammate (Cale Makar: 50), the largest differential between a team’s top two scorers since the 2007-08 Washington Capitals (Alex Ovechkin: 112, Nicklas Backstrom: 69). That total was aided by a 13-game, season-opening point streak (Oct. 3 – Nov. 1: 8-10-18), the longest such run by an Avalanche/Nordiques player since 1992-93 (Mats Sundin: 30 GP). Overall, MacKinnon finished the campaign among the League leaders in shots on goal (1st; 318), power-play points (4th; 31), assists (6th; 58), power-play goals (t-6th; 12), goals (9th; 35) and power-play assists (t-10th; 19). The 24-year-old Halifax, N.S., native – who placed second in voting in 2017-18 – is looking to become the third Avalanche/Nordiques player to claim the Hart Trophy, after Joe Sakic (2000 01) and Peter Forsberg (2002-03).
Artemi Panarin, LW, New York Rangers
Playing his first season in New York, Panarin established a career-high and ranked fourth in the NHL with 32-63-95 to help the Rangers (37-28-5, 79 points) improve their year-over-year point total despite playing 12 fewer games (32-36-14, 78 points in 2018-19). Panarin – who finished 20 points ahead of his next-closest teammate (Mika Zibanejad: 75) – found the scoresheet in 54 of his 69 appearances (78.3%), during which New York posted a 34-16-4 record (3-12-1 when he failed to register a point/DNP). He topped the League in even-strength assists (46) and even-strength points (71) while placing second in both assists (t-63) and plus/minus (+36). Panarin also played a career-high 20:36 per game, including 3:44 on the power play, while logging a career-low 20 penalty minutes. The 28-year-old Korkino, Russia, native and 2015-16 Calder Memorial Trophy winner (w/ CHI) is New York’s first Hart Trophy finalist since 2011-12, when Henrik Lundqvist finished third in voting. He is vying to become the fifth Rangers player to win the Hart Trophy and second to do so in the expansion era (since 1967-68), following Messier in 1991-92.
The Hart Memorial Trophy was presented by the NHL in 1960 after the original Hart Trophy was retired to the Hockey Hall of Fame. The original Hart Trophy was donated to the NHL in 1924 by Dr. David A. Hart, father of Cecil Hart, former manager-coach of the Montreal Canadiens.
Harrison is a diehard Caps fan and a hockey fanatic with a passion for sports writing. He attended his first game at age 8 and has been a season ticket holder since the 2010-2011 season. His fondest Caps memory was watching the Capitals hoist the Stanley Cup in Las Vegas. In his spare time, he enjoys travel, photography, and hanging out with his two dogs. Follow Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonB927077