The Hart Trophy is awarded every year to the NHL player deemed most valuable by his team. Two names under consideration have each been given high praise from fellow finalists. Artemi Panarin of the New York Rangers and Leon Draisaitl of the Edmonton Oilers are among the favorites to win the honor thanks to some big names openly backing them.
Nathan MacKinnon for Artemi Panarin
In a recent radio interview, Avs superstar, Nathan MacKinnon opened up on how he tried to lure Artemi Panarin to Colorado. It went so far as to even offering his spot on the PP. Aside from trying to recruit him to the Avalanche, Nathan feels Panarin should be the winner of the Hart Trophy (h/t The Score).
“I knew he was a free agent so I was kind of watching him with Columbus. What an amazing player,” MacKinnon said, speaking with TSN 1050’s “Overdrive.” “And then I watched him all season – just from talking to him, really nice guy, so maybe I’m a little biased with that – but that’s why I think he should win the Hart this year.”
Artemi Panarin was the most sought after unrestricted free agent to hit the market in years. The entire league understood he was a game breaker and team maker. Before he signed with the New York Rangers, the Florida Panthers, New York Islanders, Columbus Blue Jackets and Colorado Avalanche were among the most mentioned teams in the hunt. This season, the Breadman propelled the Rangers into the playoffs with a staggering 95 points in 69 contests.
David Pastrnak for Leon Draisaitl
The majority of hockey experts believe that Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl will take home the Hart Trophy. Draisaitl put up 110 points and was the only player at the pause to break the century mark. Of course, the award is not all about points but importance to team. Draisaitl plays with Connor McDavid and while Panarin has talent like Mika Zibanejad around him, it’s undeniable that he was the MVP of the Rangers this season.
Today, Draisaitl just got a big boost to his candidacy when Boston Bruins forward, David Pastrnak stated Leon should win it hands down.
“For me, what Leon Draisaitl was showing up the whole season. A lot of people say, ‘Oh he’s playing with Connor’ and stuff. Connor was hurt for a month or two and he brought it up even another level up,” Pastrnak said, per NESN.com. For me it’s absolutely no question it’s going to be and it should be Leon Draisaitl because the way he played this year there is absolutely no question for me.”
For what it is worth, both are extremely worthy to win the award. The ballots must also be in by 5pm EST today. So who do you have, Panarin or Draisaitl? Leon Draisaitl has already won the Art Ross Trophy for scoring, so I would be hard pressed not to give it the free agent that dazzled Broadway and returned them to the playoffs for the first time since 2016-2017.