NHL Awards Preview: The Hart Trophy

Mike ThiessenContributor IApril 2, 2009

MONTREAL - JANUARY 24:  Eastern Conference All-Star Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals gets a drink from Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins during the 'Scotiabank NHL Fan Fav Breakaway Challenge' during the Honda NHL Superskills competition as part of the 2009 NHL All-Star weekend on January 24, 2009 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Canada.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

This spring the Professional Hockey Writers of North America will select the winner of the Hart Trophy, which will be presented at the NHL awards in Las Vegas, Nevada on June 18, 2009.

It is highly anticipated that Alexander Ovechkin will be the recipient of this award as the league's MVP but perhaps there is a more worthy candidate. 

Alexander Ovechkin is arguably the best goal scorer in the league right now. His intensity on the ice when given the opportunity to score is unmatched.

This year, Ovechkin became one of three players to ever score 50 goals or more in their first four NHL seasons. His passion and showmanship have quickly made him a fan favorite not only in Washington, but also around the world.

He has been a vital part of the dramatic turnaround for a Washington Capitals hockey club that was struggling for years and did not make the playoffs between 2002-07.

Ovechkin also leads the league in shots with over 500 in 2008-09 alone, a number that has not been surpassed in 18-years.

Though there is no denying his talent and his contributions to his team's wins, it is Ovechkin's flashiness and pizzazz that really leave an impression and get him noticed.

In contrast, Evgeni Malkin has been playing in the shadow of his teammate Sidney Crosby since he entered the league as a 20-year-old in 2006-07.

Sidney Crosby is known as the face of the NHL through all the advertisements and media attention that he has been surrounded by since he entered the league in 2004-05, but in spite of all of this attention centered on Crosby, Malkin is a major reason why the Penguins are as good as they are today.

Malkin started out his career by scoring goals in his first 6 games in the NHL, which is a modern NHL record.

In that same year Malkin won the Calder trophy as the leagues best rookie. This year Malkin is leading the league in points and assists. Malkin plays a very good defensive role for his team with a +20 rating in the plus/minus department.

During the time when Sidney Crosby was injured for three games Malkin lead his team to three straight wins without their captain.

The Hart trophy is given to the leagues most valuable player every year.

Evgeni Malkin has proven this year that he is the most valuable player in the league because of his importance to his team. Malkin not only scores goals but he leads the league in assists and points.

He plays a puck possession game and leads all players in the league in takeaways.

The most valuable player should be someone who contributes through teamwork and discipline, a player who makes the other players around him better.

Malkin displays these attributes on a consistent basis.

It is too bad that the Professional Hockey Writers of North America will probably overlook these elements, because they will be blinded by a flash of red that streaks up the ice, takes a pass and then scores a goal that is followed by an elaborate celebration.