Hall Officially Named Hart Trophy Finalist

Well, it’s official.

To the surprise of very few, Taylor Hall has been named a finalist for the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s Most Valuable Player today.

Hall will be opposed by Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche and Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings at the NHL Awards show on June 20 in Las Vegas.

The official press release put out by the NHL on NHL.com stated that former number one overall draft picks have won the Hart the last two seasons (Patrick Kane of the Blackhawks in 2016 – who went first overall in 2007 and Connor McDavid last season – he went first overall to the Oilers in 2015). Hall and MacKinnon could continue this trend, as Hall was taken first overall by the Oilers in 2010 and MacKinnon first by the Avs in 2013.

One of Hall’s biggest assets going into the voting for this award will be the differential between him and his next closest teammate in points. He finished the year with 93 points which was a whopping 41 better than Nico Hischier’s 52. The press release noted that this was “the largest differential between a team’s top two scorers since 2007-08 (Alex Ovechkin/Nicklas Backstrom, Washington Capitals, 43 points).” For the record, Ovechkin won the Hart Trophy in 2007-08.

Also keep in mind that the Devils possibly do not make the post season without Hall putting them on his back the last few months of the season. If any player was most valuable to his team, it was Hall to New Jersey. You can make a good case for MacKinnon and, we shall see, Kopitar had a very strong year. But, watching the Devils day in and day out, I find it very hard to believe that there is anyone in the NHL who was a more valuable player to one team as Hall was to the Devils.

We covered Hall and MacKinnon’s credentials in yesterday’s post about the Ted Lindsay Award since both are also finalists for that trophy. Because of that, we will just kind of “scout” Anze Kopitar in this post.

Kopitar finished the year with 35 goals, 57 assists for 92 points, which was “tied with Pittsburgh Penguins forward Phil Kessel for seventh in the NHL.” The press release also notes that he was the first player LA Kings player since Wayne Gretzky (1993-94) to finish with more than 90 points. Gretzky had 130 that season. Gretzky is also the first and only Kings player to have won the Hart Trophy as league MVP – nabbing the honor in 1988-89.

Much like Hall and MacKinnon, Kopitar helped the Kings make a return to the playoffs after they missed last season. All three finalists played on teams that were elminated in the first round of the playoffs: the Devils by the Lightning, the Avalanche by the Predators and the Kings by the Golden Knights.

As Kopitar is also a finalist for the Selke Trophy as best defensive forward, a trophy that he won in 2016 last, he would join Bobby Clarke and Sergei Federov as the only players to win the Hart and Selke in their careers. Federov won the Hart in 1994 and the Selke in 1996 as a Red Wing while Clarke won the Hart in 1973, 1975 and 1976 and the Selke in 1983 all with the Flyers. Like the other two, he is a first-time finalist for this trophy.

Were MacKinnon to win, he would be the third Avalache player to win the honor, joining Joe Sakic (2001) and Peter Forsberg (2003).

Were Hall to win, he would be the first New Jersey Devil to take home this prestigious trophy.

Good luck to Taylor Hall and congratulations on this great honor for him.

Taylor Hall Named Finalist For Ted Lindsay Award

Taylor Hall’s personal best season continues to get better. Today he was named a finalist for the Ted Lindsay Award, given “to the most outstanding player in the NHL, as voted by fellow members of the NHLPA.”

He will be competing for the award with Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche and Connor McDavid, his former teammate on the Edmonton Oilers, for the award. The winner will be announced on June 20 at the 2018 NHL Awards show in Las Vegas.

The three finalists “received the most votes from their fellow players based on their 2017-18 campaigns” according to the press release put out by the NHLPA and NHL on NHL.com. McDavid won the award last season.

The press release listed each players credentials. Hall led the Devils in all major offensive categories, including goals (39 – good for ninth in the league overall) and points (93 – good for sixth in the league). According to the press release, he was tied for fourth in the NHL in multi point games with 27, fifth in power play points with 37 “and averaged the seventh-most points per game (1.22).” He did this all in 76 games played and helped lead the Devils to the playoffs for the first time since the 2011-12 season

The press release notes that Hall had “41 points more than his next-closest teammate” (Nico Hischier) and noted his consecutive point scoring streak, recording at least one “in 26 consecutive appearances (18-20-38) from Jan. 2 to March 8.”

Hall is “a first time finalist” for this award and would also be the first Devil to ever win it.

His opposition includes MacKinnon of the Avalanche, who led his team “with career highs in goals (39), assists (68) and points (97).” Much like Hall, MacKinnon helped lead his team to a playoff appearance for the first time in four seasons.

The press release noted that he also led the NHL in game winning goals with 12. He was second in points per game (1.31), which the NHL notes was only .01 behind McDavid. He also “shared the league-lead in multi-point games (27) and shared the league-lead in multi-point games (9).”

MacKinnon is also a first-time finalist and would be the first member of the Colorado Avalanche to win since Joe Sakic in 2000-01.

Connor McDavid is the reigning and defending champion, if you will, as he won last year’s Ted Lindsay Award. The Edmonton Oiler superstar played all 82 regular season games for the second consecutive year, but missed out on the postseason.

He led the NHL in points with 108, winning his second straight Art Ross Trophy as the league’s leading point scorer. He placed sixth in goals scored with 41, third in assists with 67 and first in points per game with a 1.32 average.

The release also notes that he “led the NHL in multi-point games (32), as well as even-strength goals (35), assists (49) and points (84) – finishing with 18 points more than the second-ranked player in the latter category.” He also finished fourth amongst all NHL forwards in time on ice per game (a 21:33 average).

McDavid is looking to become the first player to win back-to-back Ted Lindsay Awards since Sidney Crosby did it in 2012-13 and 2013-14. He is the third player in Edmonton franchise history to win this award (which was formerly known as the Lester B. Pearson Award). He joins Wayne Gretzky (who won the award every season from 1981-82 to 1984-85 and again in 1986-87) and Mark Messier (who won the award with Edmonton in 1989-90 and then again in 1991-92 as a member of the Rangers) as Oilers who won it. According to the press release, McDavid is aiming to become the first player to win the award twice before the age of 22.

Good luck to Taylor Hall and congratulations on this wonderful honor.