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Bruins’ Pastrnak Now Second-Favorite to Win NHL MVP; Auston Matthews a Distant Seventh

Connor McDavid
Connor McDavid last won the Hart Trophy in 2017 and is listed to do so again in 2020. By Connor Mah (Flickr)
  • Former winner Connor McDavid is putting up points at an astronomical rate, with 51 in 29 games
  • Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak is scoring goals for fun, and powering arguably the most potent line in hockey alongside Brad Marchand
  • Nathan MacKinnon is keeping the Colorado Avalanche in the playoff hunt almost by himself at some points this season with injuries to other key players

With points being scored at a rate that hasn’t been seen in years, if not decades, this season’s Hart Trophy race seems destined to be won by a high-flying forward.

But while McDavid leads the way for now, he is in for a good amount of competition, as highlighted in this year’s Hart Trophy odds.

2020 Hart Trophy Odds

Player Odds
Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers +200
David Pastrnak, Boston Bruins +325
Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins +500
Nathan McKinnon, Colorado Avalanche +500
Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks +800
Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning +900
Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs +1000
Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals +1200
Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins +1200
Artemi Panarin, New York Rangers +2000
Mark Scheifele, Winnipeg Jets +2500
Steve Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning +2500
Mark Stone, Vegas Golden Knights +2800
Taylor Hall, New Jersey Devils +2800
Evgeny Kuznetsov, Washington Capitals +3300

Odds taken Dec. 2

Oil King

Much like LeBron James for much of the last 10 years in the NBA, if the conversation were simply best player, Connor McDavid would win every season.

But it’s not. However, in a year that has seen No. 97 join the likes of Gretzky and Lemieux as one of the three different NHL players to hit the 50-point mark by December 1 since 1989-90, McDavid is very much in the conversation as most valuable player as well.

It doesn’t hurt that his play – combined with that of running mate Leon Draisaitl – has the Oilers sitting top of the Pacific Division and in the hunt for first overall in the Western Conference. And this from a team that has missed the playoffs the last two years.

But McDavid is no stranger to the Hart Trophy, having won it back in 2017, and having become just the sixth different player to reach 50 points in a season in 29 games or fewer, and with his team seemingly bound for the playoffs, he’s well on pace to become reacquainted with the old trophy.

Something Bruin in Boston

What David Pastrnak is doing in Boston is truly extraordinary. With 25 goals scored in just 27 games played, the Bruins winger has become the eighth different player in the last 30 years to reach that plateau in 27 games or fewer.

It doesn’t hurt that the 23-year-old plays on arguably the best line in hockey, alongside center Patrice Bergeron and fellow Hart contender Brad Marchand, who has 43 points himself, one more than Pastrnak. Marchand is currently the joint-third favorite to win the Hart, alongside Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche.

That the Bruins will be in the playoffs is almost a certainty, given that the defending Eastern Conference champions have a 99.1% chance of making the postseason according to HockeyReference.com. So having the pair playing on a strong team will help them both in the Hart race.

However, even with the added bonus that both play in the Eastern time zone, meaning that the eyes of the media that vote on the award will see them a lot more than say, McDavid or MacKinnon, the fact that both are on the same team is likely going to hurt them come decision time.

Rocky Mountain Man

After finishing sixth in the Hart Trophy voting last year, after helping the Avalanche into the playoffs for the second straight year, MacKinnon is out to do better this year.

But he hasn’t had it easy. While he’s the leading light on a young Colorado team, having seen teammates Mikko Rantanen and captain Gabriel Landeskog miss time with injuries so far already this season, MacKinnon has had to provide some semblance of stability for the team.

And he has done so, currently sitting joint-fourth in the scoring race alongside Pastrnak.

His play has also helped keep the Avs well placed in the West, with the team behind just Edmonton and defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis, and seemingly positioned for a third straight trip to the playoffs.

Best of the Rest

The only other realistic contenders at this point are defending Hart Trophy winner Nikita Kucherov and former winner Patrick Kane.

At +900 and +800 respectively, they are something of a longshot, even this early in the season. One big reason for this is that both are on underperforming teams.

After running away with the Presidents’ Trophy last year, Kucherov’s Tampa Bay Lightning are currently sitting at 12th in the Eastern Conference and outside of the playoff positions.

And while nobody was expecting great things from the Blackhawks this year, the team is second-bottom in the West and looking set to miss the playoffs for a third straight year.

Kane, the 2016 Hart Trophy winner, has 33 points in 26 games, while Kucherov, the reigning scoring champion, has just 28 in 23. Both are scoring at a respectable rate, but compared to the otherworldly totals being put up by some of the other contenders, it’s just not going to cut it this year, particularly on what appear to be non-contending teams as of right now.

Pick: McDavid should pick up his second Hart Trophy next June (+200)

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