Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Mark Messier, Bobby Orr, Bobby Clarke and many more NHL All-Stars have each won the Hart Memorial Trophy at some point during their prestigious careers.
The Hart Trophy is awarded to the player that is judged to be the most valuable to their team during the regular season.
Two potential candidates for the award include Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Both players are currently tied atop the NHL's leading scorers in points.
These two players seem to be the leading candidates for the Hart Trophy. Neither player has yet to win the award in their careers. However, it is inevitable that at least one of them will win the Hart by the end of the season.
The decision will be tough for the voters as the NHL regular season comes closer to an end. Here's a breakdown of each players' contributions so far this year.
The 25-year-old Malkin has already had great success in his career playing alongside Sidney Crosby. However, with Crosby out due to injury for much of the past two seasons, Malkin has taken over the spotlight in Pittsburgh.
Not only has he taken over the spotlight, he has carried the team on his back.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are currently sitting in the fourth place spot in the Eastern Conference with a 38-21-5 record.
Malkin has been able to stay at the top of the NHL leaderboard in points despite missing seven games this season due to injury. So far this year, Malkin has suited up for 57 games, posting up 38 goals and 42 assists for a total of 80 points.
He is also on pace for 100 points by the end of the year—the third-highest total of his career.
Malkin is also quite hot as of late, posting 18 points in the last 10 games. Expect his play to keep surging as the playoffs get closer and closer.
The 22-year-old Steven Stamkos has been having an exceptional season with the Tampa Bay Lightning. On the other hand, the team itself has had a terrible season.
Steven Stamkos has carried the team on his back all year long. So far this season, Stamkos has posted 47 goals and 33 assists for a total of 80 points in 65 games.
He is also on pace for a career high in points with 100 by seasons end.
However, expect those numbers to increase, as the young forward has posted 18 points in his last nine games.
Tampa has also been making a miracle run of their own as of late. The team has won four straight games and is 7-3-0 in their last 10. Their run has been good enough to place them 10th in the Eastern Conference and just two points behind the eighth-place Jets.
With the Lightning so close, Stamkos won't be letting off the gas pedal at this point in the season.
There's no doubt that the decision on who wins the Hart Memorial Trophy will be a tough one. Both players are on par in points at this point of the season. It will be a close vote, that's for sure.
If I were to pick the Hart Trophy winner, I would have to go with Evgeni Malkin.
In years past, Sidney Crosby has led the team to success. Now with Crosby out with injuries, Malkin has been forced to take the reins and carry the Pens on his back.
Not only do I think Malkin is going to win the Hart, I personally believe he deserves it more than any other player in the NHL.
Malkin has posted exceptional numbers through his entire career thus far, and those numbers have somewhat gone unnoticed because of Sidney Crosby.
In 409 games, Malkin has posted 498 points in this time. He has also reached the 100-point plateau twice already in his career, and he's one pace to reach that milestone for a third time.
His contributions this season are astounding; therefore, Evgeni Malkin should be the winner of the Hart Memorial Trophy.
Yet again, the decision will likely be a tough one for the voters. Good thing I will not be one of those voters.