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The Race for the Hart Trophy

Which of these four superstars can pull away from the rest in the Hart Trophy conversation?

As we get closer and closer to the home stretch of the NHL season, it seems as though there are just four players left in the realistic conversation for this year’s Hart Trophy. Of course, you could make an argument for a handful of other guys, but the odds that the Hart goes to one of Nikita Kucherov, Nathan Mackinnon, Connor McDavid or Auston Matthews is very high at this point. It’s far too close and too early to pick a winner yet, so instead, we’ll look at what they’ve done so far this year and what they’ll need to do in the last two months to give themselves the best chance to take home the award.

Nikita Kucherov

The Tampa Bay winger would be hoping for his second Hart Trophy after winning the award in 2019. In that season, he led the NHL with 128 points in 82 games. This year, he once again leads the league and is currently on pace to score more than 135 points. Kucherov is one of the toughest competitors in the league, and when games get important, he rises to the occasion almost every time. For him to secure a spot as a Hart Trophy finalist this year, he’ll need to continue to score on the pace he’s on right now. Tampa Bay probably won’t finish the regular season with as many points as Colorado, Edmonton or Toronto, and even though this is an individual award, team success does play a factor as well. 

Nathan Mackinnon

Mackinnon has never won the league’s MVP award, but he’s been very close multiple times. With two runner-up finishes and two more top five finishes, many around the league think it’s finally his to win in 2024. Mackinnon is currently second in the NHL with 92 points in 57 games, while his Avalanche will most likely be in a great battle with Dallas and Winnipeg for the top spot in the Central Division for the remainder of the year. He does it all for Colorado, and through 27 home games this year, he’s yet to be left off the scoresheet once. On a team where only five players have more than 30 points through 57 games, it’s hard to argue that Mackinnon hasn’t been just as valuable to his team as any other player in the league so far this year. 

Connor McDavid

This wouldn’t be a serious conversation without mentioning the best player in the world. McDavid and the Oilers did get off to a slow start, but since the team has figured it out, he’s back to being the top scorer in the NHL. He’s already a three-time Hart Trophy winner, but in leading his team out of the position they were in twenty games into the season, he’s had to accomplish something he’s never done before. His 83 points in 50 games this year are third in the league, but in 2024, he’s averaging two points per game. He also now leads the league in assists. If the Oilers continue to win and McDavid keeps his scoring pace, both will only get closer to the top of the league. If that happens, I don’t know how you keep him out of this conversation. 

Auston Matthews

49 goals in 53 games. He may not be top three in points like the other players on this list, but Auston Matthews has dominated the league in the goal scoring category in a way we don’t see very often. Alexander Mogilny was the last player to score 70 or more goals in the NHL, and that was more than 30 years ago. This season, Matthews has a very real shot at it. Even with Toronto’s other star forwards, it’s hard to imagine where the team would be without him. Like McDavid, his game is maturing over the years, but the scoring isn’t going away in the slightest. Two years ago, he won the Rocket Richard and Hart Trophy with 60 goals in 73 games. If he stays healthy for the remainder of this regular season, he’s on pace for 75. How would that NOT earn him your vote?

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