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Hart Memorial Trophy

Hart Trophy winner debated by NHL.com

Crosby of Penguins, Kucherov of Lightning, McDavid of Oilers finalists for League MVP

NHL.com @NHLdotcom

The Hart Memorial Trophy is a three-player race among Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Nikita Kucherov of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers. Who will be honored as the best player during the regular season when it is handed out during the 2019 NHL Awards presented by Bridgestone in Las Vegas on Wednesday? That remains to be seen, but we had five members of the NHL.com staff debate the merits of the finalists to see how the voting by the Professional Hockey Writers' Association could shake out.

 
Nick Cotsonika, columnist

Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning

Kucherov had a historic regular season for one of the best regular-season teams in NHL history. Not only did he lead the NHL in scoring, he led it by a large margin, 12 points ahead of Connor McDavid. His 128 points were the most since 1995-96, when Mario Lemieux had 161 and Jaromir Jagr had 149. His 87 assists tied Jagr in 1995-96 for most in one season by a wing. This one's easy.

Video: TBL@BOS: Kucherov sets record with his 128th point

 

 

Amalie Benjamin, staff writer

Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning

I wish I could disagree with Nick, but I just can't. This is Kucherov's award, and there isn't much to debate. What happened to the Lightning in the Stanley Cup Playoffs takes a little bit of the shine off the apple, but that doesn't factor into what is a regular-season award. He powered a team that was more dominant than just about every single other team in NHL history. That should be more than enough -- plus all those stats Nick listed -- to get Kucherov his first Hart Trophy, in the process denying McDavid his second and Sidney Crosby his third.

 

Tom Gulitti, staff writer

Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning

I agree with Nick and Amalie. Kucherov was by far the best player this season, leading what was by far the best team in the NHL during the regular season (on which this award is based). The Lightning's 128 points were 21 more than the Calgary Flames and Boston Bruins, who tied for second-most in the NHL. I understand the argument that Tampa Bay would've made the playoffs with or without Kucherov, but, as Nick noted, he had the kind of special season that supersedes that, finishing with 12 points more than anyone else and reaching numbers not seen in 23 years.

Video: BOS@TBL: Kucherov snipes top corner to tie game

 

Mike Zeisberger, staff writer

Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning

Make it 4-for-4 among NHL.com writers when it comes to Kucherov. To me, Crosby is the best 200-foot player in the NHL. And no one has more raw skill or can do the things McDavid does. But when you have the most points in more than two decades (128) and win the scoring title by 12 points, you've made quite the statement. Often there's a debate as to what the Hart Trophy represents: is it MVP of the entire NHL or of his particular team? In Kucherov's case you could make an argument for both. Like Nick, Amalie and Tom, I've got to go with Kucherov here. The supporting evidence is just too overwhelming.

 

Dan Rosen, senior writer

Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning

It's a clean sweep. That should have been expected. No one was better in the regular season than Kucherov. Forget about the Lightning records he set (most assists and points in a season) or the fact that his 128 points set the NHL single-season record for most by a Russia-born player. Those are amazing. But check these out: 1) Kucherov took the lead in the NHL scoring race Dec. 27 and never gave it up. 2) He had a point in 62 of 82 games, including at least two in 38 games. 3) The Lightning went 54-5-3 when he had a point and 8-11-1 when he didn't. Debate? What debate? It's over.

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