The following is a five part series outlining my picks for the: Hart, Vezina, Calder, Norris, and Jack Adams awards. The following are my top five candidates for the Hart trophy, and the projected winner.
Evgeni Malkin: Malkin is having the best year of his young career. Malkin currently holds the NHL scoring lead with 112 points. Malkin has asserted himself as possibly the best play-maker in the NHL today. Malkin has recorded an assist in nearly every game, sitting at 78 assists (tops in the league). Malkin is a definite frontrunner for this prestigious award.
Alexander Ovechkin: Ovechkin, coming off his Hart winning season last year is once again having a stellar season with the Capitals. Ovechkin has recorded his third 50 plus goal season in this his fourth season in the NHL. Ovechkin is the league goal scoring leader with 55 goals, and is likely to be the only player this season to even reach the 50 goal mark. Ovechkin also is second in the league in scoring with 108 points. Ovechkin could very likely repeat as league MVP.
Steve Mason: Mason the rookie goaltender with the Columbus Blue Jackets has led the Jackets to their first ever playoff appearance. Mason is second in the league for GAA with a 2.25 GA. The most impressive stat however is that Mason leads the NHL with 10 shutouts. Mason has recorded a very respectable 33-19-7 record with Jackets, and a .917 Sv%. Mason will be a premier goaltender is this league for many years.
Tim Thomas: Thomas has had a very impressive season with the Boston Bruins, leading them from the eighth seed last year all the way up to he conference title, and ever so close to the Presidents trophy (best overall record). Thomas leads the league in save percent with an amazing .933, and if that's not enough, he also leads the league in goals against with a 2.10 GAA. Thomas has a 35-11-7 record with the Bruins this season. A very likely winner of the Vezina, and the Hart.
Mike Green: Mike Green has had a breakout season with the Washington Capitals. Green is possibly the best Offensive defensemen in the game today. Green has recorded 73 points in 68 games this season. He leads the Capitals in plus/minus with a 25.
What is most impressive however is that he is the first defenseman since Kevin Hatcher in 1992/93 to reach the 30 goal plateau, and is only the eighth player all time to do so. Green also set an NHL record after scoring goals in eight consecutive games, surpassing Mike O'Connels record of seven games that was set in the 1983/84 season. Green is very young and will be very exciting to watch for years to come.
And The Winner Is: Alex Ovechkin will repeat as Hart trophy winner. Ovechkin is easily the most exciting player in the NHL. The only 50 goal scorer this season, and second in points you cannot pass over Ovechkin for this title.