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Ranking the Hart Trophy Candidates

by Photo of Gil Santos

Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin are among the Hart Trophy candidates.

Ranking the Hart Trophy Candidates

The NHL season is nearing its end with 12 games left for most teams, so it's the perfect time to rank the candidates for the league's most valuable player award: Hart Memorial Trophy.

5. Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals - Last season's Hart Trophy winner is well on his way to his fifth career 50-goal season and leads the league in goals with 46 tallies. He is also tied for 6th in points with 69. Ovechkin has shouldered the load in terms of scoring for the Capitals, having put in 22% of the team's goals. In addition, he has contributed 33% of the Capitals' power play goals. He hasn't received much help in terms of secondary scoring until recently with Troy Brouwer and Joel Ward starting to heat up and breaking the 20-goal mark. The one thing that holds him back from repeating is his ugly -31 plus/minus, which will be the worst of his career. While Ovechkin isn't known for his defense, he could do more to help his team in their own end, an area where they've struggled all season. 

4. Ben Bishop, Tampa Bay Lightning - Only six goalies have ever won the Hart Trophy, the last being Jose Theodore during the 2001-2002 season. While it's not likely Bishop will be the next netminder to accomplish this feat, there is no question he has been remarkably valuable to the Lightning. Bishop's stellar play during an extended Steven Stamkos' absence kept the Lightning in playoff contention. During that stretch, Bishop went 18-13-4 and had a 2.05 goals against average along with a .929 save percentage. Overall, Bishop is 34-11-6 with a 2.17 GAA and a gaudy .927 save percentage in 55 starts. In games where Bishop did not play, the Lightning are just 5-9-1 while giving up 3 goals a game. Bishop should also be one of the Vezina Trophy favorites (top goalie) along with Boston Bruins' Tukka Rask.  

3. Phil Kessel, Toronto Maple Leafs - Kessel was introduced to the world during the Sochi Olympics, where he displayed his lightning quick speed and amazing skill. Kessel continued his stellar play and is currently sitting third in the league in points this season with 74 in 71 games. He is also approaching career highs in goals and assists and has helped carried the Leafs to playoff contention. While Kessel is known has more of a shooter, he rounded out his game this year and has become more of a playmaker. Kessel leads the Leafs in most offensive categories.

2. Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks - Captain Duck does it all for Anahiem. From scoring goals to setting up teammates to playing on the penalty kill, Getzlaf is a true leader and an exceptional all-round player. He is having a career season with 29 goals and 47 assists and sits at 2nd place in points with 78. He is also on pace to break the 90-point mark for the second time in his career. Along with line-mate Corey Perry, Getzlaf has made the Ducks a legitimate Stanley Cup contender as they sit in second place of the Pacific Division with a 45-18-7 record.

1. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins - Crosby is the clear frontrunner for the Hart Trophy and it would be an upset if he does not win it.  Despite injuries to Penguins' key players such as Pascal Dupuis and Kris Letang, Crosby has not missed a beat. The Captain is lighting it up, leading the league in points with 91 and assists with 58. He also has guided his Penguins to a 45-19-5 record and atop of the Metropolitan Division. Crosby should cruise to his second Hart Trophy of his career. 

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