Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin was announced as one of the three candidates for the Hart Memorial Trophy as NHL MVP on Friday, his third nomination for the award.
Malkin is the presumed favorite to win the Hart after capturing his second Art Ross Trophy with 109 points (50G, 59A) during 75 games in the regular season. His 50 goals were a career-high, and he finished four points shy of his career-best points mark of 113, set in 82 games in the 2008-09 season.
Malkin, 25, is a Hart finalist for the third time in the last five seasons. He finished runner-up behind Washington’s Alex Ovechkin back-to-back seasons in 2009 and ’08. Should he win, Malkin would become the fourth player in franchise history to do so, joining Mario Lemieux (3 times), Sidney Crosby (1) and Jaromir Jagr (1).
... Malkin defeated Stamkos by 12 points – the largest margin of victory for a scoring champion since 1999.
In winning his second Art Ross Trophy, Malkin became the third player in franchise history to win multiple scoring titles (Mario Lemieux, 6; Jagr, 5). Malkin won the scoring title despite missing seven games due to injury in October. He averaged a league-best 1.45 points per game (min. 41 games) and he also led all NHL players with 339 shots.
Malkin led the Penguins in goals, assists, points, power-play points and shots on goal while leading the NHL in points, shots and PPG (excluding Sidney Crosby's 20 games).
His numbers were impressive given the number of games missed by his teammates. Crosby (60 games), Jordan Staal (20 games) and Kris Letang (31 games) all missed significant time with injuries, leaving Geno to carry the offense while being the square focus of opponents' best shutdown offerings.
Malkin finished runner-up to Alex Ovechkin in 2008 and 2009 despite beating him out for the Art Ross in '09, the season in which Malkin also won the Conn Smythe Trophy and was part of the team that lifted the Stanley Cup.
The 25-year-old Russian star has led the Penguins in scoring in three of his six seasons with the team. With a Calder Trophy, Conn Smythe, two Art Ross Trophies and the '09 Cup already accounted for, the Hart is one of the last major awards missing from his cabinet.
He is the presumptive favorite to capture MVP honors for the first time in his third official nomination.
Stamkos led the NHL with 60 goals, just the second person to score as many since the lockout (Ovechkin), and finished second to Malkin for total points. Lundqvist helped to lead the Rangers to their first conference title since 1993-94 and finished in the top five of the NHL in wins, goals-against average and save percentage.