5. Patrick Kane Will Win Hart Memorial Trophy
The acronym “MVP” has taken a somewhat off meaning in all sports. To win, a player not only has to perform at the highest level, but his/her team also has to perform at a somewhat equal level. Thanks for ruining everything, LeBron.
Of all major leagues, the NHL has probably done the best job at keeping the MVP the actual most valuable player. Regardless of his point total this season, Kane should be the MVP assuming he finishes the season. Let’s look at his competitors. Jaime Benn has Tyler Seguin and vice versa. While the two are a nuclear bomb waiting to go off together, they still pose a serious threat without the other on the ice. Vladimir Tarasenko plays for the St. Louis Blues, so he’s obviously not allowed to win any awards. There should really only be two competitors: Erik Karlsson and Braden Holtby.
First thing’s first, we should all be lucky to witness Karlsson play. He has been arguably the best player in NHL for the past handful of years, even over those who may be obvious to some (Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, etc.). He has speed, hockey sense and skill to have scored 100 points per season year in, year out back in the good old days. This season is no different. Ottawa is only performing at the so-so level it is because of the leadership and brilliant, balanced play of its captain. Enough said.
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Now, we go to Holtby. Yes, I know that sounds absolutely insane. He was almost a laughable starter in recent memory but has really come into his own under the direction of coach Barry Trotz. However, even under a great mind like Trotz, the defense in front of Holtby nothing to write home about. It’s led by John Carlson after the departure of Mike Green, and Carlson is filling in nicely. But who do they have after that? Matt Niskanen may be performing like he used to, but the Caps become quite shallow after that. Holtby is performing at a Carey Price level with not as good of a defense right now. Give the man credit where it’s due.
So, why Patrick Kane? What makes him more valuable? He’s leading a lost team. He is the firepower that all teams fear but still can’t stop. The ‘Hawks are still finding their new, true identity after a heavy overhaul, yet they are still in playoff position in the best division in hockey with a fantastic record. While their may be other players at an equally high level, the opportunity of circumstances will lead to success for Patrick Kane here.
Next: Prediction #4