Formerly known as the Lester B. Person Award, the trophy is given annually to the NHL's "most outstanding player," with members of the National Hockey League Players' Association voting for the winner. Daniel Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks won the award last year.
Last week, Lundqvist, Malkin, and Stamkos were all named finalists for the Hart Trophy, which is awarded annually "to the player adjudged to be the most valuable to his team."
Stamkos and Malkin are already guaranteed to see the podium at the 2012 NHL Awards, which will take place June 20 at the Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas. Stamkos clinched the Maurice Richard Trophy as the League's top goal scorer, while Malkin will receive the Art Ross Trophy as the League's leading scorer. Lundqvist will also be vying for the Vezina Trophy, given annually to the League's top goaltender.
Lundqvist is coming off a standout season in an already-noteworthy career. In 62 games, he led the Rangers to their best season point total since the team's Stanley Cup season in 1993-94. Along the way, Lundqvist set career highs for wins (39), goals-against average (1.97) and save percentage (.930). His eight shutouts also ranked third this season. Should he win, the man with the moniker of "King Henrik" would become just the third goaltender to earn the award, after Mike Liut in 1981 and Dominik Hasek in 1997 and 1998. He is the first goaltender to be nominated for the award since Roberto Luongo in 2007.
Forced to lead a club ravaged by a number of high-profile injuries, Malkin turned in a historic season. The 25-year-old Russian scored 50 goals and led the League with 109 points, the highest total since Henrik Sedin had 112 points in the 2009-10 season. Previously nominated for the award in 2008 and 2009, Malkin also led the League with 339 shots and tied for fourth with nine game-winning goals. If he wins, Malkin will become the fourth member of the Pittsburgh Penguins to win the award after Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr, and Sidney Crosby.
In the NHL's goal-scoring race, there was Stamkos and then there was everyone else. Malkin's 50 goals ranked him second in the League, well behind Stamkos' 60. It marked the second time in his career that the 22-year-old led the League in goals and the first time he has reached the 60-goal plateau, making him just the 19th player in NHL history to record 60 goals in a season. Stamkos also finished second behind Malkin with 97 points, and his 12 game-winning goals tied him for the League lead with Radim Vrbata. Stamkos finished second in last year's voting for the "Most Outstanding Player" award behind Sedin.
The three nominees could potentially join a prominent list of 13 players who have won both the Hart and Lindsay in the same season. That list includes Guy Lafleur, Wayne Gretzky, Lemieux, Hasek, Joe Sakic, Crosby, and Alex Ovechkin.