No. 1: Patrick Kane, RW, Chicago Blackhawks
This was more obvious than the Blues choking in the playoffs. Combined with Crawford’s showing in net, if the Blackhawks don’t have Kane’s performance this season, they’re nowhere close to atop the Central Division. They may not even be in the playoffs if the season ended today. That’s how important he’s been, and it’s why the Hart Trophy is currently his to lose.
His 30 goals lead the league. His 43 assists lead the league. His 73 points lead the league by 15. His 14 powerplay goals lead the league, as do his 25 powerplay points. Let’s add to that: plus-24 rating, six game-winning goals, 20:40 ice time per night, a 58.43 Corsi-for percentage. Yeah, it’s impressive.
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What’s more, he’s pushing a teammate to the forefront of the Calder Trophy conversation. Artemi Panarin leads all rookies in points (46; 13-point lead), goals (17; two-goal lead) and assists (29; 10-assist lead). And while Panarin is certainly talented, he’d be among all the other rookies without Kane. So Kane could be the reason the Blackhawks get two pieces of individual after-season hardware.
Oh, and there’s that 26-game point streak he had earlier in the season, establishing team and U.S.-born player records with the run. It was the longest streak since a 30-gamer by Mats Sundin in the 1992-93 season. And the Blackhawks needed those points almost every night, because they were essentially treading water while Kane was going off. The Blackhawks still have just 10 players with double-digit points this season, and three are defensemen.
Kane is the runaway Hart Trophy winner at this point, plain and simple.
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