To mark the end of the 2016-17 regular season, NHL.com is running its final installment of the Trophy Tracker series this week. Today, we look at the race for the Hart Trophy.
Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid does just about everything at a breathtaking pace. Quick hands. Quick feet. Quick release. Quick stops. Quick starts.
So it should be no surprise his rise to stardom in the NHL has also been rapid.
McDavid, all of 20 years old and already considered a top-five, if not top-two player in the NHL, did enough in 82 games to cement his status as the League's most valuable player this season.
Video: EDM@SJS: McDavid pots rebound for 30th goal of season
He is the favorite to win the Hart Trophy in a vote of 14 NHL.com staff members. McDavid received 12 first-place votes and was the only player to be named on all 14 ballots submitted.
Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby received the other two first-place votes and was named on 13 of 14 ballots.
McDavid won the Art Ross Trophy this season as the League's leading scorer with 100 points (30 goals, 70 assists). He is the first Oilers player to reach 100 points in a season since Doug Weight had 104 in 1995-96.
Crosby was tied for second in scoring with Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane, each with 89 points. Crosby won the Rocket Richard Trophy with 44 goals in 75 games.
Video: PIT@TOR: Crosby nets one-timer from Guentzel for PPG
"I saw the skill set last year, that it was there," said Oilers forward Milan Lucic, who played against McDavid in the Pacific Division last season as a member of the Los Angeles Kings. "I even told people that he'd be right at the top, fighting for the scoring championship before the year even started. He's been our best player all year long. He's carried the load when we needed him to."
McDavid led the League in scoring or was at least tied for the lead every day since Nov. 22. He had a League-high 30 multi-point games, including 11 games with three points. McDavid closed the regular season on a 14-game point streak. He had 25 points (seven goals, 18 assists) during the streak.
However, perhaps the most impressive thing McDavid did this season was lead the Oilers back into the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2006.
Edmonton finished second in the Pacific Division with 103 points (47-26-9), including 19-5-4 in games when McDavid scored a goal. They will open the playoffs against the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference First Round. Game 1 is at Rogers Place on Wednesday (10 p.m. ET; Sportsnet, TVA Sports, USA).
The Oilers won 16 more games and had 33 more points than last season (31 wins, 70 points). They scored 44 more goals and allowed 35 fewer than last season. They scored 13 more power-play goals. McDavid scored or assisted on 27 of Edmonton's 56 power-play goals.
"It's crazy to think about," McDavid said. "I look at this time last year and it was a real dark period. We were out of it, the fans were hard on us and not a lot of good things were going on. But we're definitely happy to be in this position this year."
McDavid's impact goes way beyond his own personal stats.
The Oilers outscored the opposition by more than one goal per every 60 minutes played at 5-on-5 with McDavid on the ice, according to stats.hockeyanalysis.com. They were even when he wasn't on the ice.
In addition, every Oilers player who played at least 100 minutes with McDavid had a better shot-attempts percentage (SAT) with him than without him.
"The best thing about it is that he's having fun with it," Lucic said. "He's going out there and he's just having fun and playing the game and loving the game. I think it's been contagious throughout the whole team."
Voting totals (points awarded on a 5-4-3-2-1 basis): Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers 68; Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins, 52; Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus Blue Jackets, 23; Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins, 21; Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks, 16; Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks, 13; Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs, 6; Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators, 5; Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning, 4; Devan Dubnyk, Minnesota Wild, 1; Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks, 1