ARLINGTON, Va. – The National Hockey League announced today that Washington left wing Alex Ovechkin is one of three finalists for the Hart Trophy, which is presented annually to the player judged most valuable to his team. Ovechkin joins Calgary’s Jarome Iginla and Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin as the three finalists.
Members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association submitted ballots for the Hart Trophy at the conclusion of the regular season, with the top three vote-getters announced as finalists. The winner will be announced Thursday, June 12, during the 2008 NHL Awards Television Special, which will be broadcast live throughout the United States on VERSUS and in Canada on CBC from the historic Elgin Theatre in Toronto.
Ovechkin could become the first Washington, D.C., most valuable player in a major North American sport (NFL, NBA, NHL or MLB) since the Washington Redskins’ Joe Theismann in 1983. He would be the first Capital ever to win the Hart Trophy and would join teammate Sergei Fedorov as the only Russian-born players to capture the award (Fedorov won in 1994 as a member of the Detroit Red Wings).
Ovechkin has already claimed the Art Ross Trophy as the league’s top point scorer (112 points) and the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy as the top goal scorer (65 goals). He also led the league in power-play goals (22), game-winning goals (11) and shots (446), while playing all 82 games. Ovechkin scored a higher percentage of his team’s goals than any other player (27.3%) and had a hand in more of his team’s goals than any other player (47.1%).
His 65 goals set a Capitals record and an NHL record for goals by a left wing. Ovechkin wrapped up his third NHL season as the first player since 1996 to reach 60 goals and one of only 12 players all-time to score 65 or more goals. Ovechkin shared the NHL lead with three hat tricks and had two of the league’s four four-goal games all season.
Ovechkin’s +28 rating was seventh in the league and tied for first on the team with Viktor Kozlov and he was among the league’s top 10 in hits (220) and takeaways (69).
Ovechkin, who led the Capitals to the playoffs for the first time since 2003, appeared in his second NHL All-Star Game in January. He was the NHL’s First Star for the months of January and March and was a five-time selection as one of the Three Stars of the week. Ovechkin was named the MVP and the league’s best player by The Hockey News, the “Monster of the Year” by TSN’s Pierre McGuire, the Clutch Scorer and a unanimous choice for MVP by USA Today’s panel and the “Espo Award” winner as the league MVP by Phil Esposito of XM Radio NHL Home Ice.