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Trophy Tracker

Trophy Tracker: Hart

McDavid, MacKinnon among preseason favorites for most valuable player by panel

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer

To mark the beginning of the 2019-20 regular season, is running its first installment of the Trophy Tracker series this week. Today, we look at the race for the Hart Trophy, the award given annually to the player deemed to be most valuable to his team, as selected in a Professional Hockey Writers Association poll.

Connor McDavid is many things in the NHL: fast, fearless, skilled, arguably the best player in the world at 22 years old.

The Edmonton Oilers center is also the envy of his peers, many of whom said they'd love to walk in his shoes and skate in his skates for just one day to feel what it's like to be McDavid.

"I want to know what it's like to skate that fast by me," Pittsburgh Penguins forward Patric Hornqvist said.

New Jersey Devils forward Jesper Bratt said, "Just to be on the ice like him, to skate around like him, play a scrimmage game as him, that would be fun."

Florida Panthers forward Jonathan Huberdeau said jokingly, "Just to be able to go fast one time."

The experience would also give them a chance to find out what it's like to be the favorite to win the Hart Trophy this season.

A panel of 20 voters determined that McDavid should be expected to be named NHL most valuable player for the second time in his career. He won the Hart Trophy after the 2016-17 season.

Video: Top 10 plays of 2018-19: McDavid

Each voter submitted his or her top five for the Hart Trophy, in order, and a point total was assigned to each vote. McDavid received four first-place votes, two fewer than Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon, but had six more voting points because he also received five second-place votes and he was named on 17 of the 20 ballots, the most of any player.

McDavid finished third in the actual Hart Trophy voting last season, when he had 116 points (41 goals, 75 assists), second behind Hart winner Nikita Kucherov, a right wing for the Tampa Bay Lightning who had 128 points (41 goals, 87 assists).

"[Connor] does things that … people see it, but you don't really see it unless you see it every day, the things that he can do," Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins said. "The way he can explode out of any situation is incredible and do the things he does at the highest speed that you can possible go on the ice, I think, is pretty incredible."

McDavid will have to prove that he can still do the incredible after tearing the PCL in his left knee in the season finale against the Calgary Flames on April 6. He did not need surgery but he had to spend most of the offseason rehabbing and sat out the first four preseason games before he was cleared to play against the Arizona Coyotes last week.

McDavid is expected to be in the Oilers lineup when they open the season against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Place on Oct. 2.

"The way that he does things at top speed, you don't think about it because he looks like every other player out there, he has his head up, he's making plays, but he's going a lot faster than everybody else," Nugent-Hopkins said. "I think what really separates him is when he starts to cross over, you're not getting him. You're just not going to catch him. I mean, as soon as he takes one crossover, he explodes. With the puck, without the puck, doesn't matter. He's taking off."

Voting totals (points awarded on a 5-4-3-2-1 basis): Connor McDavid, Oilers, 62 points (four first-place votes); Nathan MacKinnon, Avalanche, 56 points (six first-place votes); Nikita Kucherov, Lightning, 41 (one first-place vote); Aleksander Barkov, Panthers, 38 (two first-place votes); Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs, 27 (three first-place votes); Sidney Crosby, Penguins, 24 (one first-place vote); Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks, 11 (one first-place vote); Evgeni Malkin, Penguins, 7 (one first-place vote); Taylor Hall, Devils, 6 (one first-place vote); Johnny Gaudreau, Flames, 6; Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals, 6; Steven Stamkos, Lightning, 4; Brayden Point, Lightning, 4; Phil Kessel, Arizona Coyotes, 2; Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars, 1; Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers, 1; Mark Stone, Vegas Golden Knights, 1; Sebastian Aho, Carolina Hurricanes, 1; Mitchell Marner, Maple Leafs, 1; P.K. Subban, Devils, 1 staff writer Mike Zeisberger and columnist Nicholas J. Cotsonika contributed to this story

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