The NHL Hart Trophy voters agreed with NHL players in selecting Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl, Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon and Artemi Panarin of the New York Rangers as MVP award finalists.
The finalists were announced by the NHL on Tuesday, and determined by members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association. The three were also named finalists for the Ted Lindsay Trophy, honouring the league’s most outstanding player as voted on by players.
The 24-year-old Draisaitl is seeking to become the first German-born player to win the Hart after leading the NHL with 110 points (43 goals, 67 assists). He registered a point in 56 of 71 games and also led the league in assists and 44 power-play points.
Draisaitl is a first-time finalist, and has an opportunity to become the fourth Oilers player to win the Hart, and first since teammate Connor McDavid in 2017.
MacKinnon, who is also a Lady Byng finalist for sportsmanship this year, played a key role in helping the Avalanche overcome a rash of injuries to finish second in the Western Conference standings. The 24-year-old Canadian had 35 goals and 58 assists for 93 points, which ranked fifth in the league, and 43 more than his closest teammate.
MacKinnon finished second in the Hart voting in 2018, and is in position to become the franchise’s third player to win the honour, and first since Peter Forsberg in 2003.
Panarin had a breakout year in his first season in New York, finishing fourth in the NHL with a team-leading and career-best 95 points (32 goals, 63 assists). The Rangers had a 34-16-4 record when he registered a point, and finished 37-28-5, marking a five-win improvement over the previous season despite playing 12 fewer games.
The 28-year-old Russian was the NHL rookie of the year with Chicago in 2016, and a first-time Hart finalist. Panarin has an opportunity to become the fifth Rangers player to win the honour, and first since Mark Messier in 1992.
The winners will be revealed at a yet-to-be determined date during the conference finals, which are scheduled to be held in September as the NHL is set to resume play on Aug. 1 with an expanded 24-team playoff format.
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The Associated Press