Leon Draisaitl, Nathan MacKinnon, Artemi Panarin named Hart Trophy finalists

Gene Principe is joined by Chris Johnston, Iain MacIntyre, and Eric Francis, who all have different opinions on who should claim the title of the NHL’s Most Valuable Player.

Edmonton Oilers centre Leon Draisaitl, Colorado Avalanche centre Nathan MacKinnon and New York Rangers winger Artemi Panarin have been named finalists for the Hart Trophy.

The annual award is given “to the player judged most valuable to his team” and is voted on by Professional Hockey Writers Association. Nikita Kucherov took home the award for the 2018-19 season.

Draisaitl is a finalist for the first time after leading the NHL in scoring by 13 points with 43 goals and 110 points. He is the first German-born player to lead the NHL in scoring and had at least one point in 56 of his team’s 71 games, the highest percentage in the league. He also led the league with 33 multi-point performances and led all forwards in average time on ice with 22:37 per game. If he wins, Draisaitl will be the first German-born player to win the Hart Trophy and fourth Oiler, following Wayne Gretzky (eight times), Mark Messier and Connor McDavid.

MacKinnon is a finalist for the Hart for the second time in the last three seasons. He led the Avalanche with 93 points in 69 games and the 43-point difference between his next closest teammate (Cale Makar, 50) is the largest in the NHL and the largest on any team since the 2007-08 season. MacKinnon led the NHL in shots on goal (318), was fifth in points and fourth in power-play points (31). If he wins, MacKinnon will be the third player in Avalanche/Quebec Nordiques history to win the Hart after Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg.

Panarin is a finalist in his first season in New York after joining the Rangers as a free agent. He finished fourth in scoring with a career-high 95 points and finished 20 points ahead of his next-closest teammate (Mika Zibanejad, 75). The Rangers posted a 24-16-4 record in the 54 games Panarin registered a point and a 3-12-1 record in the other 16 games that he did not. He led the NHL in even-strength points (71) and was second in the league in assists (63) and plus/minus (plus-36). If he wins, Panarin will be the fifth Rangers player to win the Hart after Buddy O’Connor, Chuck Rayner, Andy Bathgate and Messier.

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