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Five reasons why Nikita Kucherov should win the Hart Trophy

Date: July 23, 2024 Time: 02:24:30

The NHL regular season has come to an end and with it the exciting scoring race. It was won by Russian Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov, who had a truly exceptional season: his 144 points became a record for the club, as well as for players from Russia.

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In any other year, along with Art Ross, he likely would have received the Hart Trophy, the award for the most valuable player of the regular season. But this year, the NHL Journalists Association, which will determine the winner of the MVP title, is in no hurry to give the victory to the Russian in advance: many participants in the upcoming voting consider the future election to be “one of the most difficult things in life. .”

However, IMHO, there is absolutely nothing complicated in this choice – the prize should go to Kucherov for the second time. And there are five very good reasons for this.

1. Victory in the scoring race: the craziest of the 21st century

The first reason without the second part might not be enough: as we know, the most valuable player of the season is not always determined in the scoring race. However, in this regular season, winning a competition like this is worth a lot: Kucherov, MacKinnon and McDavid not only were at the same level almost until the last games, but they also did it at a phenomenal speed. For the first time in 28 years, two players scored 140 points in a season, and McDavid could have done so if he hadn’t missed several games due to injuries.

And it was Kucherov who emerged victorious from this race, who responded to his pursuers’ attempts to get ahead with even greater matches, leaving the Canadian duo with no chance against Art Ross. In such conditions, the award for the most productive player of the regular season becomes even more valuable and therefore this fact should definitely add weight to Nikita in the fight for Hart.

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2. One of the best seasons in NHL history.

In the league’s nearly 107 years of existence, there have only been 22 cases in which players finished the regular season with more points than Kucherov, and in 14 of those cases Wayne Gretzky or Mario Lemieux were the names behind the achievement. Nikita was just nine shots shy of the 21st century record set by Connor McDavid last season.

Abroad, when talking about Kucherov’s chances at Hart, it is often noted that Nikita scores a lot of points in the majority. Yes, the Russian is the leader this season (53 points with the extra), but this year he scored many more points with equal strength than McDavid in the past (91 against 75) and almost achieved the century record. which was established today by MacKinnon (92). Connor scored 71 points on the power play last season, but for some reason no one downplayed his chances at Hart.

Let’s not forget that Kucherov also joined the club of players with more than 100 assists per season, which now consists of five people; along with McDavid, he now owns the best result of the 21st century. And in the list of hockey players who scored at least 40 goals and 100 assists, Nikita came in third place. You probably know the first two, but just in case, a hint: from Gretzky, Lemieux, Orr and McDavid, this is not Orr or McDavid.

Nikita Kucherov

Photo: AP/TASS

And these are not all of Kucherov’s achievements this season.

3. Play with the best clubs

Another thesis that is often used in relation to Kucherov abroad is that he accumulates statistics in matches with weak teams. Yes, Nikita really scores a lot of points in matches with outsiders, but he also produces results in matches with top teams. At the same time, again, he better than MacKinnon and McDavid.

Let’s look at the trio’s statistics in games against clubs that finished the regular season in the top ten.

No.EquipmentKucherovMcKinnonMcDavidMatchesPointsMatchesPointsMatchesPoints1Rangers37 (2+5)21 (1+0)11 (1+0)2Dallas23 (1+2)47 (3+4)31 (0+1)3Carolina27 ( 2+5)22 (1+1)24 ( 0+4)4 Winnipeg23 (2+1)34 (1+3)35 (0+5)5 Florida 34 (2+2)21 ( 0+1)23 (2+1)6Vancouver22 (2+0)34 (1+3)33 (1+2)7Boston46 (3+3)22 (1+1)24 (0+4)8Colorado24 (2+2)–22 (2+0)9Edmonton26 (3+3)34 (0+4)–10Toronto412 (5+7) 25 (1+4)24 (0+4)Total:2654 (24+30)2330 (9+21)2027 (6+21)

On average, 2.1, 1.3 and 1.35 points per game – Kucherov’s mastery in this component, as they say, could not be more obvious. It is also necessary to note that Nikita scored more than half of the goals (24 out of 44) against opponents from the top 10. This is very significant in comparison with the same MacKinnon, who hit the opponent’s goal 51 times, but only nine times in matches against the best teams in the league.

4. Contribution to team success

At this point the text could begin and end immediately. According to the wording, the Hart is awarded to the hockey player who “made the greatest contribution to the success of his team” in the regular season. And in this Kucherov has no equal. Unlike the other candidates for the season’s MVP award, he did not have such strong support in the team: in the Lightning scoring race, Nikita was ahead of his closest pursuer, Brayden Point, by as much as 54! points! Kucherov does not have Rantanen and Draisaitl in the Lightning lineup, and Vasilevsky, after the operation, has not yet regained his previous form, and Tampa still entered the playoffs with a reserve. And a great credit for this goes to Nikita.

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The Russian participated in almost half of the Lightning’s goals this season: 49.48% of the goals scored by the Lightning came with his participation! And this, of course, is the best result among all NHL players in the past regular season.

5. Conn Smythe’s debt

The NHL Writers’ Association also determines the playoff MVP, and based on the results of Tampa’s two championships, Kucherov should have received the award in at least one. However, Nikita never received this title. At the same time, in the 2020 vote, the Russian, who became the top scorer of the Stanley Cup, was far behind the final winner Victor Hedman, although in that situation the choice not in favor of Kucherov was clearly not so clear.

Therefore, the Electoral College owes a certain debt to Ray No. 86. History has known cases when players received personal awards for their length of service rather than for their performance in a single season, so why is Kucherov worse? Furthermore, if Nikita receives the Hart, it is unlikely that anyone will seriously claim that he received the award for the wrong reason.

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Puck Henry
Puck Henry
Puck Henry is an editor for ePrimefeed covering all types of news.

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