Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Hart Memorial Trophy Candidates

As the NHL moves through the first quarter of the season it seems like a good time to look at the top candidates for the Hart Memorial Trophy given, not to the league MVP or best player, but rather the player most valuable to his team. It’s an important distinction otherwise we hand over the trophy every year to Sidney Crosby. These candidates are certainly worth noting for NHL betting tips.

1. Jonathan Toews – Chicago Blackhawks
The best player on what is shaping up to be the best team in the league and still only 23 years old. Toews, the Blackhawks captain, anchors the top line for Chicago and is tied with NHL scoring leader Phil Kessel of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

2. Phil Kessel – Toronto Maple Leafs
Taken two picks below Toews in the 2006 NHL draft by the Boston Bruins, Kessel has slowed a little after his red hot start to the season, but still leads the league in goals and points. Moreover his play has elevated that of line mate Joffrey Lupul who appears to be on his way to a career year after bouncing around the league with the Anaheim Ducks, Edmonton Oilers and Philadelphia Flyers.

3. Claude Giroux – Philadelphia Flyers
Yet another skater from what is turning out to be a very good 2006 NHL draft that also included the Penguins Jordan Staal and Nicklas Backstrom of the Washington Capitals, Giroux was selected 22nd overall by the Flyers. The first line center may ultimately edge out Toews and Kessel if all-around play is also taken into consideration.

4. Pavel Datsyuk – Detroit Red Wings
Datsyuk suffers in the race for the Hart Memorial because of the belief that he is surrounded by superior talent in Detroit. That may be so, but the value of the best two-way forward in the league cannot be diminished so easily. Not only is he great for NHL picks, but is one of the great value picks of all time, Datsyuk lasted until the sixth round of the 1998 draft.

5. Steven Stamkos – Tampa Bay Lightning
On pace for a 100-point season the former top pick overall in 2008 has lived up to all the hype and finds himself at 21 the best player on a Tampa team that also features Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier. Stamkos will not win the Hart this year, but pencil him in as the early favorite for next.

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