Connor McDavid is likely to win his first Hart Trophy as NHL MVP later week, but will anyone notice? The previous two were Wayne Gretzky and Sidney Crosby. The incredible 20-year old center for the Edmonton Oiler was awarded the Hart Trophy Wednesday night, being crowned the MVP of the National Hockey League for just the first time in his young National Hockey League career.
This one looks telegraphed, since only one goalie is a Hart and Vezina finalist. Last season, he was nominated for and won the Calder Trophy for rookie of the year, and he has come a long way since then. He also was given his Art Ross Trophy for having the most points this season by being the only player to notch 100 points this year.
Matthews led all first-year players this season and tied for second in the league with 40 goals, including four in his NHL debut. And while his scoring was undoubtedly impressive, it was the impact he had on the group around him that was most awe-inspiring.
That’s a healthy heaping of hardware for Connor McDavid. That’s a scary thought for every team but Edmonton.
It wasn’t just that the Oilers had a turnaround that pushed McDavid to the forefront of the MVP conversation, though.
The awards show got emotional when the league honored veteran Bryan Bickell, who retired this year after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
While Crosby didn’t claim the Hart, the back-to-back Stanley Cup champion won the Richard Trophy as the NHL’s top goal-scorer.
“I really think that those two kids, Auston and Connor – both No. 1 picks overall – they’ve accepted their responsibility and their role, not only to the teams, but to the league”, Gretzky said hours before Matthews’ Leafs topped McDavid’s Oilers in overtime on the first of November. It was a no-doubter award, too. With the potential that McDavid has, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him win a few more down the line. The only goaltender better was Ottawa Senators netminder Craig Anderson. He led defensemen with 29 goals and 76 points.
San Jose Sharks defenseman Brent Burns took the James Norris Memorial Trophy as the league’s best defenseman. The game’s first trailer was also unveiled, which gave fans a glimpse into some of the features and new modes that will be coming to the latest title.
In what should be a close race, Babcock stands out for taking a young Maple Leafs team to the playoffs in his second season as their coach.
On the administrative end, David Poile of the Nashville Predators was named the General Manager of the Year and Columbus Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella earned the Jack Adams Award as the league’s coach of the year. Tortorella also won the award in 2004 when he was with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Between 2011 and 2016 the athletes were, in order: Jonathan Toews, Steven Stamkos, Claude Giroux, Martin Brodeur, Patrice Bergeron, and Jonathan Toews again. The other, Montreal Canadiens legend Bob Gainey, was on hand to pass the trophy to Bergeron, a fitting way for the Boston Bruins center to take the award.
Lady Byng Trophy (sportsmanship): Johnny Gaudreau.
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