Who Will Win the 2018 NHL MVP?

Hockey News and Discussions

The Hart Memorial or MVP race in the NHL is interesting. Since the Salary Cap Era began, a player typically has to have a dominant season AND play on a top NHL team during the regular season:

2005-06: Joe Thornton-29 goals, 125 points (Sharks: 2nd in the Pacific Division, 99 points)

2006-07: Sidney Crosby-36 goals, 120 points (Penguins: 2nd in Atlantic Division, 105 points)

2007-08: Alex Ovechkin-65 goals, 112 points (Capitals: 1st in Southeast Division, 94 points)

2008-09: Alex Ovechkin-56 goals, 110 points (Capitals: 1st in Southeast Division, 108 points)

2009-10: Henrik Sedin-29 goals, 112 points (Canucks: 1st in Northwest Division, 103 points)

2010-11: Corey Perry-50 goals, 98 points (Ducks: 2nd in Pacific Division, 98 points)

2011-12: Evgeni Malkin-50 goals, 109 points (Penguins: 2nd in Atlantic Division, 108 points)

2012-13: Alex Ovechkin-32 goals, 56 points [lockout shortened season of 48 games] (Capitals: 1st in Southeast Division, 53 points)

2013-14: Sidney Crosby-36 goals, 104 points (Penguins: 1st in Metropolitan Division, 109 points)

2014-15: Carey Price-1.96 GAA, 44-16-6 record, .933 SV (Canadiens: 1st in Atlantic Division, 110 points)

2015-16: Patrick Kane-46 goals, 106 points (Blackhawks: 3rd in Central Division, 103 points)

2016-17: Connor McDavid-30 goals, 100 points (Oilers: 2nd in Pacific Division, 103 points)

2018, however, has a much different race, especially since the point spread in the National Hockey League is relatively close among playoff contenders and playoff hopefuls. Here are my picks for the most likely MVP candidates:


Taylor Hall-New Jersey Devils

Why he will win:

There’s a reason why virtually every hockey pundit has Hall penciled in as their      MVP selection. His 30 goals, 44 assists, and 74 points lead the Devils in all categories. To put it in perspective, Hall’s 44 assists would still be enough to lead his team in points. Nico Hischier’s 41 points are the next highest, leaving Hall to be the guy for the Devils. How far that will get them into the playoffs remains to be seen, but for the purposes of the regular season, nobody has been more valuable to their club than number 9. His PDO is also 101 and he owns a 51.9% corsi. Not to mention he has scored a point in 26 consecutive games. Obviously, I don’t get to cast a ballot, but if I could, Hall would be my pick.

Why he won’t win:

There isn’t much holding him back from being the MVP except for maybe the performance of the Devils. New Jersey currently owns a record of 34-25-8 for 76 points. They are currently in the first wild card spot, but only own it by 3 points. If the Devils miss the playoffs, it could hurt Hall’s chances, especially since every Hart winner in the Salary Cap Era has led his team to the post-season. I don’t see that streak ending anytime soon.

Nikita Kucherov-Tampa Bay Lightning

Why he will win:

Kucherov leads the league in points (86) as of writing this. He also leads the Lightning in goals (33) and assists (53). He is plus 13 and owns a 53.7% corsi and a 102.6% PDO. Let’s not forget that the Lightning also have the most points in hockey (96). Kucherov is a great Hart candidate, especially if the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association (who votes on the winner each season) wants the best player on the best team or the highest scoring player of the year.

Why he won’t win:

Objectively, Hall is the more valuable player. The Lightning have had a lot of success, but Kucherov, although a big reason why, isn’t the ONLY reason why. Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point, Yanni Gourde, Victor Hedman, and Andrei Vasilevskiy have all been terrific. As much as Kucherov deserves this trophy, the success of his teammates could hold him back. While the Hart Trophy isn’t only given to players who are essentially a one-man or two-man playoff team, there are years where the Hart recipient either carries his club, or carries a line that carries his club. See all 3 Alex Ovechkin seasons, Henrik Sedin, Patrick Kane, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Carey Price. Other years the PHWA rewards players who still have substantial help. See also Corey Perry, Joe Thornton, and Patrick Kane. But since the winner is most often the former, history would suggest that Kucherov is at a disadvantage.

Alex Ovechkin-Washington Capitals

Why he will win:

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Alex Ovechkin leads the league in goals. He has 40 so far this season and leads the capitals with 72 points. After Ovechkin’s “down year” in 2017, he has regained his generationally famous scoring prowess. He also owns a 51.1 % corsi and 101.9 PDO. In addition, his Capitals are currently 2nd place in the NHL’s toughest division.

Why he won’t win:

If we are speaking objectively, Hall has been the better player all year. While Ovi is definitely an alluring pick for the Hart, it is easy to argue that he hasn’t been the MVP in the same way that Hall or arguably Kucherov have been. If Hall or Kucherov don’t win, however, Ovechkin could walk away with his 4th trophy.

Evgeni Malkin-Pittsburgh Penguins

Why he will win:

Malkin currently leads the Penguins in goals (38) and points (84). No other Penguin has broken 30 goals, which is saying something since the team also boasts quite a few elite shooters in Phil Kessel, Sidney Crosby, and Jake Guentzel. Malkin’s plus 14 should also get him a few votes, especially since the Penguins are currently in the bottom third of the league in goals allowed. He also owns a 52.5% corsi and a 101.3 PDO. In addition, his Penguins are 1st in the Metropolitan Division.

Why he won’t win:

Malkin has fewer goals than Ovechkin and fewer points than Kucherov, at least as of writing this. He definitely deserves consideration and I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up in the final three slots. However, he hasn’t enjoyed the team success of Kucherov’s Lightning, nor the comparative individual success of Hall. Although, there are compelling reasons for Malkin and Ovechkin to be in the top 3, I would argue that neither have been as deserving as my top two picks.


Nathan MacKinnon-Colorado Avalanche

Why he will win:

MacKinnon has led a resurgence of the Colorado Avalanche after their dismal 2016-17 season. He leads the team in goals (32), assists (46), and points (78). He is also shooting 14.8 percent, is plus 7, owns a 51% corsi, and a 101.8 PDO.

Why he won’t win:

Despite the individual success of MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, Gabriel Landeskog, and Tyson Barrie, the Avalanche are 5th in the Central Division. While they have improved mightily over last season’s team, the 2018 Avalanche just aren’t the same caliber of team as other organizations that have boasted previous MVPs. This will significantly hurt MacKinnon’s chances.

William Karlsson-Vegas Golden Knights

Why he will win:

Karlsson has registered 35 goals and 24 assists for 59 points. He is also plus 39 in 65 games as of writing this, and shooting a red hot 24%. That is almost unheard of. In addition, his corsi sits at 54.0% and he has a PDO north of 105. Unreal!

His Knights are also 1st in the Pacific Division and have 89 points as of writing this, with the best first season record of any expansion team ever.

Why he won’t win:

Everyone on the Knights is playing extremely well. Although he leads the team in plus/minus and goals, he is currently tied with David Perron for 3rd on the team in points. Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith are also ahead of him in points, while six Golden Knights have at least 40 points this season. Karlsson’s elite season has been one of a number of fantastic stories on the Knights, but that might not be enough to consider him the MVP of the league.


PK Subban-Nashville Predators

Anze Kopitar-Los Angeles Kings

Claude Giroux-Philadelphia Flyers

Patrick Laine/Blake Wheeler-Winnipeg Jets

Johnny Gaudreau-Calgary Flames


 *statistics from Hockey-reference.com


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