Taylor Hall, Anze Kopitar, Nathan MacKinnon voted Hart Trophy finalists

Nathan Mackinnon.(David Zalubowski/AP)

The NHL announced the three finalists for the Hart Trophy on Friday, awarded “to the player judged to be the most valuable to his team.”

This year’s finalists are New Jersey’s Taylor Hall, Los Angeles’s Anze Kopitar and Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon.

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Recording 41 more points than his next highest-scoring teammate, Hall led the Devils to a 27-point improvement in the standings and their first playoff berth since 2011-12. From Jan. 2 to March 6, Hall recorded a point in 26 straight appearances, a franchise record and the longest such streak since 2015-16. Hall’s total of 39 goals and 93 points in 76 games was a career-high and good for sixth in league scoring. This is the first time Hall has been a finalist for an NHL award and is seeking to become the first member of the New Jersey Devils to win the Hart Trophy.

Kopitar’s totals of 35 goals and 92 points were good for seventh in NHL scoring as the Kings captain had a personal improvement of 40 points from his total output in 2016-17. His achievement led him to become the first Kings player to hit the 90-point plateau since Wayne Gretzky recorded 130 points in 1993-94. The 30-year-old also outscored his teammates by a wide margin, finishing 31 points better than the next highest-scoring King. A two-time Stanley Cup champion, Kopitar has previously won the Selke and Lady Byng Trophies and is seeking to become the second King to win the Hart, following Gretzky in 1988-89.

MacKinnon led the Avalanche from the worst record in the NHL last season to a playoff spot in 2017-18 with the second-highest points-per-game mark in the league at 1.31. After scoring just 53 points a year ago, MacKinnon finished fifth in league scoring with 39 goals and 97 points, setting a new career-high in every offensive category. A clutch performer for the Avalanche, the Cole Harbour, N.S., native led the NHL with 12 game-winning goals, good enough to set a new Avalanche franchise record. The Calder Trophy winner in 2013-14, MacKinnon has a chance to become the third Avalanche player to win the Hart, following Joe Sakic (2000-01) and Peter Forsberg (2002-03).

The Hart Trophy is voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers Association.

All award winners will be announced on June 20 at the NHL Awards Show in Las Vegas.


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