NHL Awards 2012 - Hart Trophy
Welcome to the 2012 NHL Awards Series! Read the Left Wing Lock Staff picks for each major award:
"The Hart Memorial Trophy is an annual award given to the player judged to be the most valuable to his team."
Before I explain my choices and declare a winner for the Hart Trophy, I need to make it clear that I don't think a player on a non-playoff team can be in the running. If you aren't valuable enough to your team to get them into the playoffs, then what's the point really? This is the only reason why Steven Stamkos is not in my top three. So who takes Stamkos' place as the third finalist? Jason Spezza. He's had an incredible season for the Senators after missing 40 games over the past two seasons. He's having his best season since the peak of the Alfredsson/Spezza/Heatley line. His teammates have benefitted greatly from his play as well; just look at how Milan Michalek and Erik Karlsson have done this year. Jason Spezza, however, is a distant third to Jonathan Quick and Evgeni Malkin for the Hart Trophy. Without Jonathan Quick and the 47 games in which he gave up 2 goals or less (including 10 shutouts), the Los Angeles Kings would not only be out of the playoffs but would probably be battling the Blue Jackets for 14th place in the Western Conference. But as crucial as Quick is to the Kings, Malkin is my pick for the Hart Trohpy. This guy has exploded for 49 goals and 58 assists for 107 points, and he missed a handful of games earlier in the season. With key players like Crosby and Letang out for extended periods of time, to say that Malkin stepped up his game would be an understatement. Malkin has had a fantastic season and has made his teammates better (career years for linemates Neal and Kunitz). Because of what he's done for the Penguins this season, Evgeni Malkin
is my pick for the Hart Trophy.
When I consider an award such as the Hart Trophy, I like to ask myself the following question: if I were to remove that player from the team and replace him with an average-level NHL player for the entire regular season, where would that team be sitting come playoff time? While both Giroux and Malkin are integral part of their respective teams, I can imagine scenarios under which Philadelphia and Pittsburgh make it to the playoffs without these players. Without Quick in net, the Kings give up an additional 38 goals this season (using Bernier as the replacement, far more if we use an average NHL goaltender). Those extra goals against put the Kings far out of playoff contention. For this reason, I award the Hart Trophy to Jonathan Quick
of the Los Angeles Kings.