The National Hockey League announced today that Penguins center Evgeni Malkin is one of three finalists for the Hart Trophy as league MVP.
The other finalists are Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos and New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.
Voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association (WHWA), the Hart Trophy is awarded annually to the player judged to be the most valuable player to his team. The winner will be announced at the NHL Awards show, which will be held on Wednesday, June 20 at the Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas.
The 2012 NHL Awards will be broadcast nationally in the United States on NBC Sports Network.
Malkin, 25, is a Hart finalist for the third time in the last five seasons. He finished runner-up behind Washington’s Alex Ovechkin back-to-back seasons in 2009 and ’08. Should he win, Malkin would become the fourth player in franchise history to do so, joining Mario Lemieux (3 times), Sidney Crosby (1) and Jaromir Jagr (1).
Malkin enjoyed a superb comeback year, tallying 50 goals for the first time in his career and adding 59 assists for a league-best 109 points – earning him his second Art Ross Trophy as NHL scoring champion.
Malkin defeated Stamkos by 12 points – the largest margin of victory for a scoring champion since 1999.
In winning his second Art Ross Trophy, Malkin became the third player in franchise history to win multiple scoring titles (Mario Lemieux, 6; Jagr, 5). Malkin won the scoring title despite missing seven games due to injury in October. He averaged a league-best 1.45 points per game (min. 41 games) and he also led all NHL players with 339 shots.
Malkin was at his best during the during the 40 games when captain Sidney Crosby was sidelined from Dec. 8-March 11, helping the Penguins remain among the NHL’s elite teams despite the absence of Crosby and several other top players. During that span, Malkin led all NHL players with 60 points (29G-31A) – an average of 1.5 per game. His 29 goals ranked second behind only Stamkos (34).
Pittsburgh’s team MVP for the third time in five seasons, Malkin was dominant down the stretch, helping the Penguins secure home-ice advantage for the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs for the fifth straight season. Malkin ended the regular season on an eight-game point streak – including multiple points in six of those contests – and with points in 14 of his final 15 games for a total of 28 (12G-16A).