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NHL Awards

Hart Trophy finalists announced

Draisaitl, MacKinnon, Panarin in running for award given to NHL most valuable player

by David Satriano @davidsatriano / Staff Writer

2019-20 Hart Trophy Finalists

Hart Trophy finalists announced

Leon Draisaitl, Nathan MacKinnon and Artemi Panarin have been named finalists for the Hart Trophy

  • 00:59 •

Leon Draisaitl, Nathan MacKinnon and Artemi Panarin were named finalists for the Hart Trophy on Tuesday.

The award, voted on by members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, is given annually to the NHL player voted to be most valuable to his team. The winner will be announced during the Conference Finals or before the Stanley Cup Final.

Draisaitl led the NHL with 110 points (43 goals, 67 assists) in 71 games when the season was paused March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus. The 24-year-old Edmonton Oilers center also was first in points per game (1.55), assists and power-play points (44), and was first among forwards in ice time per game (22:37). He tied Boston Bruins forward David Pastrnak for first in game-winning goals (10), and his 66 even-strength points (Panarin, 71) and 16 power-play goals (Pastrnak, 20) were second. Draisaitl had 33 multipoint games, and at least one point in 56 games.

"I think every player tries to get better every summer and become better players and, I'm no different," Draisaitl said. "I try to do that every summer as well. This season (it) seemed to work out and hopefully we can bring that into the playoffs as a team."

Edmonton was 24-5-2 when Draisaitl scored a goal this season and 13-20-7 when he didn't.

Video: WPG@EDM: Draisaitl buries McDavid's feed for PPG

Draisaitl helped the Oilers go 37-25-9 (.585 points percentage) and advance to the Stanley Cup Qualifiers. As the fifth seed in the Western Conference, Edmonton will play the No. 12 Chicago Blackhawks (32-30-8, .514) in a best-of-5 series, with the winning team advancing to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.. 

"He's been a good player for a long time now," Oilers center Connor McDavid said. "Obviously he was great this year. Huge for us in all situations. It's a super big accomplishment for him."

Draisaitl would be the fourth different Oilers player to win the award and first since McDavid in 2016-17. Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier also won the Hart Trophy with the Oilers.

"Amazing players, legends of the game, no question about it," Draisaitl said. "It's a big honor to be part of that group for sure."

MacKinnon finished fifth in the League with 93 points (35 goals, 58 assists) in 69 games, and third in even-strength points (62). The 24-year-old Colorado Avalanche center had 29 multipoint games, and at least one point in 53 games. He helped the Avalanche to the second-best record in the Western Conference (42-20-8, .657 points percentage) and they will play in the round-robin of the Cup Qualifiers along with the St. Louis Blues, Vegas Golden Knights and Dallas Stars to determine the top four seeds in the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference.

Video: COL@SJS: MacKinnon hammers one-timer for PPG

It's the second time MacKinnon is a Hart finalist; he was the runner-up to Taylor Hall of the New Jersey Devils in 2017-18. MacKinnon would be the third player in Avalanche/Quebec Nordiques history to win the award and first since Peter Forsberg with the Avalanche in 2002-03. Joe Sakic won the Hart with the Avalanche in 2000-01.

"We're spoiled. We see him every day, but obviously the impact that he has for our team, we consider him an MVP candidate and the lots around the league are taking notice of that," Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said.

MacKinnon was named a finalist for the Lady Byng Trophy on July 16. The award, voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers' Association, is given annually to the NHL player who best combines sportsmanship, gentlemanly conduct and ability.

"I mean there's no doubt there," defenseman Samuel Girard told the Avalanche website. "Nate is like, if he's not the best player, he's not that far. You know he's so good on the ice."

Panarin, who signed a seven-year contract with the New York Rangers on July 1, 2019, tied Pastrnak for third in the League with 95 points (32 goals, 63 assists) in 69 games. The 28-year-old forward ranked first in the League in even-strength points (71) and first among forwards in plus/minus (plus-36). He had at least one point in 54 games, including 28 multipoint games.

"I'm really very surprised to be nominated," Panarin said. "Even after the season was paused, I never even thought I would be nominated for anything so it's very important for me and very surprising for me but it's much more important for my relatives and my loved ones."

He helped the Rangers to a 37-28-5 record (.564 points percentage). As the No. 11 seed in the Eastern Conference, New York will play the Carolina Hurricanes (38-25-5, .596) in the Qualifiers.

"He's been outstanding for us all season," linemate Jesper Fast told the Rangers website. "Coming in, having the pressure, he's been carrying us the whole season with the way he's been playing, both the offensive type of game he has and he's also been taking really good responsibility playing defense and playing all three zones. He's been outstanding for us the whole year, and a very deserving nominee."

Panarin would be the fifth Rangers player to win the award and first since Messier in 1991-92.

Draisaitl, MacKinnon and Panarin were each named finalists for the Ted Lindsay award on July 14. The award is given annually to the most outstanding player in the NHL as voted by fellow members of the NHL Players' Association.

"They're obviously both very special," Draisaitl said. "Huge honor to all of us to be nominated for both awards. It's always great when you get the recognition from your teammates or guys that you go up against on a nightly basis."

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov won the Hart Trophy last season.

The 2020 NHL Awards had been scheduled for June 18 in Las Vegas but were postponed March 25.

Video: NYR@NYI: Panarin buries the feed from Lindgren

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