The race for the Hart Trophy as the NHL's MVP has gotten tighter as the season winds down. With less than 20 games to go, some new names have stepped up to make themselves a bigger factor in the race for the Hart.
Vancouver's Henrik Sedin is still close, but he's fallen back a bit. Claude Giroux and Pekka Rinne will still get some votes but will likely not be finalists.
Here is a look at the most likely Hart contenders.
Malkin remains tied for the league lead in points and is almost certain to be a finalist for the Hart Trophy.
After missing half the season to injury in 2010-11, Malkin rededicated himself to hockey with an aggressive rehab this past summer and took his game to another level once the season started.
The fact that he was able to become the undisputed leader of the Penguins after Sidney Crosby and Jordan Staal went down with injuries only helps his candidacy.
Malkin is arguably the most talented player in the game today and belongs in any conversation about league MVP.
Anybody taking a quick glance at the goaltending statistics will quickly understand why "King Henrik" is a candidate for the Hart Trophy this year.
The Rangers' All-Star goalie leads the league in save percentage and shutouts, is first among starters in goals-against average and is fourth overall in wins.
Lundqvist is consistent and often spectacular. Without his contribution, there is no way the Rangers would be in first place in the Eastern Conference by such a comfortable margin right now.
He is also the odds-on favorite to win the Vezina Trophy as well.
With his recent hot streak, Steven Stamkos has made himself a part of the Hart Trophy discussion.
In any sport, the question of how to consider a great player on a struggling team in the MVP vote creates controversy. The Tampa Bay Lightning may not make the playoffs this season, but the individual excellence of Stamkos is still impossible to ignore.
As of now, Stamkos has 10 more goals than any other player in the league and is tied for the lead league in points and game-winning goals. He is likely to be the only player in the league to reach the 50-goal mark this year.
Last year's winner, Corey Perry, will not be a finalist this season.
The last repeat winner of the Hart was Alexander Ovechkin, who won back-to-back trophies in 2008 and 2009. This year, Ovechkin's game has fallen off significantly, and he will not be a factor in the voting.
It looks like we will have a new Hart Trophy winner this year, as none of the finalists have won the Hart thus far in their NHL careers.