Everyone has his own definition of what constitutes "most valuable." It may not always be the player who scored the most goals or recorded the greatest number of points, but in the case of this year's nominees for the Hart Trophy, the National Hockey League's MVP award, it's hard to argue what they meant to their respective clubs.
Corey Perry of the Anaheim Ducks, Daniel Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks and Martin St. Louis of the Tampa Bay Lightning were named as finalists Thursday. The trio occupied the top three spots on the scoring list and were instrumental in their teams' accomplishments.
The Hart Trophy will be presented on June 22 at the 2011 NHL Awards in Las Vegas.
If Perry, who led the League with 50 goals and finished third with 98 points, isn't the favorite, his ascension into the list of contenders was certainly the most rapid. Perry scored 19 goals and added 11 assists over the Ducks' final 16 regular-season games, helping them rise from a playoff bubble team to the fourth seed in the Western Conference. He recorded three hat tricks during the season and his 11 game-winning goals were also tops among all NHL players. He was also second among forwards in average ice time, playing over 22 minutes a game.
Sedin's offensive game is as well-rounded as any current player, as his statistics this season will attest. He tied teammate Ryan Kesler for fourth in the NHL with 41 goals and placed third with 63 assists for a League-best 104 points. Sedin's 18 power-play goals also placed him atop that category, while his plus-30 rating was second among NHL forwards and his 10 game-winning goals trailed only Perry and Alex Ovechkin. Sedin will be attempting to keep the trophy in the family after Henrik Sedin captured it last year by edging two-time defending winner Ovechkin.
St. Louis, who will have turned 36 by the time the award is presented, just continues to marvel. He narrowly missed out on his second career 100-point season and eclipsing the 102 he put up during the 2006-07 campaign. All the same, St. Louis finished second in the League in both assists (68) and points (99), while scoring more than 30 goals for the sixth time in eight seasons. He also finished in the top 10 among forwards with nearly 21 minutes of ice time per game, a feat helped by the fact St. Louis, also up for the Lady Byng, amassed only 12 penalty minutes.
According to research, it's the first time in at least 50 years three wingers have been up for the award.
Tickets to the 2011 NHL Awards are available via Ticketmaster.com at nhl.com/awardstickets and at the Pearl Concert Theater Box Office. Tickets include access to the 2011 NHL Awards show and the official NHL Awards Party, a cocktail reception to be held immediately following the show. Guests must be 21 or older to attend the NHL Awards Party.