The NHL’s top three scorers will be battling it out for the Hart Memorial Trophy as the league’s most valuable player.
Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin and Vancouver Canucks forward Henrik Sedin were named Thursday as finalists for the honour, which is awarded each year to the National Hockey League player “adjudged to be the most valuable to his team.”
The winner, determined by a poll of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association, will be announced on June 23 at the NHL awards gala in Las Vegas.
Ovechkin, the two-time defending Hart Trophy winner, tied for second overall in league scoring with 50 goals and 59 assists, despite playing in just 72 games. In addition to leading the NHL in shots on goal (368), he was tops in even-strength goals (37) and second with a plus-45 rating.
The 24-year-old Russian was also good at taking the body, ranking 29th in the league with 185 hits. None of the players ranked ahead of him in hits were among the league’s top-67 scorers.
He was named Washington’s captain on Jan. 5, sparking a 30-4-7 run by the Capitals, earning them the Eastern Conference title by 18 points.
A five-year veteran, Ovechkin joined Mike Bossy and Wayne Gretzky as the only players to score 50 or more goals four times within their first five NHL seasons.
When Ovechkin picked up a point during a game, the Capitals were 40-8-8, and were 28-3-4 when he scored.
Crosby, who was the Hart Trophy winner in 2006-07, tied Ovechkin for second in the scoring race, as the 22-year-old centre scored 51 goals and chipped in with 58 helpers. The native of Cole Harbour, N.S., had a career-high 298 shots, which ranked him fifth in the league.
His 51 goals earned him a share of the Maurice (Rocket) Richard Trophy as the league’s leading goal-scoring, joining Tampa Bay Lightning star Steven Stamkos atop the goal parade. He also led the NHL in hat tricks (three) and shootout goals (eight).
Crosby notched his 500th career point on April 8, at the age of 22 years, 244 days, which was third-quickest in NHL history, trailing only Wayne Gretzky (21 years, 52 days) and Mario Lemieux (22 years, 172 days).
Sedin is a Hart nominee for the first time in his career. The 29-year-old Swede had career highs in goals (29), assists (83) and points (112), as he became the first Canuck in franchise history to win the Art Ross Trophy as the league’s leading point-getter.
Despite missing linemate and twin brother Daniel, who missed 19 games due to injury, Henrik still picked up 10 goals and 19 assists in his absence. His 1.37 points per game was second in the league to Ovechkin (1.51), while his 83 assists were 14 more than San Jose’s Joe Thornton, who ranked second.
Sedin was consistent throughout the season, scoring 25 points in December, 25 in January and 24 in March.
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