Edmonton Oilers centre Leon Draisaitl, Colorado Avalanche centre Nathan MacKinnon and New York Rangers left-winger Artemi Panarin are the finalists for the Hart Trophy.
The awarded is presented each year to “the player adjudged to be the most valuable to his team.”
Draisaitl led the NHL with 110 points (43 goals, 67 assists) in 71 games, becoming the first German-born player to win the Art Ross Trophy. He registered at least one point in 56 of his 71 games and recorded a league-best 33 multi-point performances. The 24-year-old from Cologne, Germany led the NHL in assists and power-play points (44) and was tied for first with 10 game-winning goals. He also led NHL forwards in both total (1,605 minutes, 24 seconds) and average (22:37) ice time.
Draisaitl is seeking to become the fourth Oiler to capture the award, joining Wayne Gretzky (eight times, most recently 1986-87), Mark Messier (1989-90) and Connor McDavid (2016-17).
MacKinnon ranked fifth with 93 points (35 goals, 58 assists) in 69 games. The 24-year-old from Cole Harbour, N.S. finished among the league leaders in shots on goal (first, 318), power-play points (fourth, 31), assists (sixth, 58), power-play goals (tied sixth, 12) and goals (ninth, 35). He recorded 43 more points than defenceman Cale Makar, his next-closest teammate. It’s the largest differential between a team’s top two scorers since the 2007-08 Washington Capitals, when Alex Ovechkin had 112 points and Nicklas Backstrom had 69.
MacKinnon’s point total was aided by a 13-game, season-opening point streak, the longest by an Avalanche/Nordiques player since Mats Sundin’s 30-gamer in 1992-93.
Panarin established a career high and ranked fourth with 95 points (32 goals, 63 assists). He topped the league with 46 even-strength assists and 71 even-strength points, while placing second in both assists (tied, 63) and plus/minus (plus-36). Panarin also played a career-high 20:36 per game, including 3:44 on the power play, while logging a career-low 20 penalty minutes.
The 28-year-old Korkino, Russia native is New York’s first Hart finalist since 2011-12, when Henrik Lundqvist finished third in voting. Panarin also won the 2015-16 Calder Trophy in his rookie season with Chicago.
The three are also the finalists for the Ted Lindsay award, which goes to the “most outstanding” player as voted by members of the National Hockey League Players’ Association.