2010-11 Hart Trophy favourites
The Hart Trophy is given to the player judged to be most valuable to his team at the end of the National Hockey League season. Recent winners have included big names such sa Alexander Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, and Joe Thornton. This year several players will be vying for the coveted trophy
Last season’s winner – Henrik Sedin
Sidney Crosby – Forward – Pittsburgh Penguins
A favourite for the award every year, Crosby has made a habit of hanging around near the top of the league in points. Last year the wunderkind slotted home a league leading 51 goals, while also managing 58 assists for 109 points.
This year is not expected to be any different for the gold medal-winning forward, as he heads into 2010-11 with a highly skilled Pittsburgh side. Nevertheless, Crosby may be even more important to his team this year as the club is without any elite wingers, and therefore will have added pressure to perform.
Crosby has been known to take his job very seriously, and is said to go into every off-season with a part of his game to improve, and goal in mind for next season. One only needs to look at his 18-goal jump in production from 2008-09 to 2009-10 to see how important hockey is to the youngster.
Alex Ovechkin – Forward – Washington Capitals
Like Crosby, Ovechkin has made it his business of being near the top of the league in points, and having won two Hart Trophies already, he is certainly a favourite for a third.
A goal-scoring machine, Ovechkin is a pleasure to watch, and has only scored less than 50 markers once in his five-year NHL career. Last season he finished one behind Crosby and Stamkos for the league lead in the category, while managing 109 points.
Playing with a stacked Washington line-up there is no doubt that we can expect to see Ovechkin’s name on the score sheet throughout the season. Nevertheless, he may have more trouble proving he is the most important member of his club this year than in the past. The Capitals have acquired young talent, and one of those players is all-star Nicklas Backstrom. Acting as Ovechkin’s set up man, Backstrom registered 101 points last season, and looks to only be improving.
With so much talent on one line, another player could be considered more valuable to his team than Ovechkin.
Steven Stamkos – Forward – Tampa Bay Lightning
Perhaps considered the long shot for the award, Steven Stamkos has certainly thrown his hat into the ring. The 20-year-old broke out in his sophomore campaign registering 51 goals and 44 assists for 95 points, establishing himself as one of the league’s top snipers.
Last year Stamkos played on a struggling Lightning team that had very little offensive depth. The 2010-11 version of the Lightning look much more potent and capable at the offensive end. In addition, the squad signed set-up man Martin St. Louis to a contrac extension, something that should help keep Stamkos up around the 50 goal mark.
Stamkos yet to reach his potential, and if he is able to this season, and Tampa Bay makes the play-offs, there is no question that he will be in the race for the Hart Trophy.
Henrik Sedin – Forward – Vancouver Canucks
Last year’s winner will again be a contender for the Trophy this season, as the Canucks look to be the class of the West.
Last season with Vancouver Sedin led the league in points with 112, dishing out an impressive 82 assists in the process. A proficient passer of the puck Sedin will once again be placed with his brother Daniel on the Canucks' first line, and when the twins get together there are few teams in the NHL that can stop them.