The Hart Memorial Trophy is handed out annually at the conclusion of each NHL season. The award, which is voted on by members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association, is given to the player who has been deemed to be the most valuable to his team during the regular season.
Since this honor is only bestowed upon one player at the NHL’s award ceremonies I wanted to take the time to recognize a few other skaters in the league who are having outstanding MVP-caliber seasons.
I have decided to break down my MVP accolades by division. I will award one Hart Trophy nomination to one player from each division in the NHL (as well as an honorable mention nod to the division's runner-up).
I have placed a self-imposed rule on these selections by only allowing myself to vote for forwards and defensemen.
The reason I am not recognizing goaltenders in this divisional MVP selection process is because in at least five of the six divisions a strong case could be made that a goaltender should be deemed to be the most irreplaceable player for a team within that division.
Everyone knows that the “true” MVP of the Northeast Division is Ryan Miller, but who else in that five-team grouping deserves some praise?
In Colorado, the upstart Avalanche are currently resting in a Western Conference playoff spot (barely) due in large part because of Craig Anderson's play in net, but that does not mean there haven't been other or more significant players this season for the teams in the Northwest.
In short, I believe in several cases it would simply be too easy to select a goaltender as a division's most valuable player and I wanted to delve a bit deeper and unearth some players who have had outstanding seasons, but may not receive the adulation they deserve.
I also would like to make it abundantly clear to the readers that the only team I have watched every game of this season (with the exception of maybe one or two) is the Pittsburgh Penguins.
In no way shape or form do I believe my MVP selections to be the end all be all. My assessment of many of these players comes from watching them play off and on throughout the season.
I am much more confident in my Eastern Conference divisional choices, given that I spend much of my hockey watching time on those 15 squads located within my time zone.
However, I do watch quite a bit of the West as well so I am not blindly guessing at their selections either.
What I would love from all of you readers out there is for the die-hard fans of all 30 NHL clubs to chime in and give me your selections for divisional MVPs. You guys know your teams and their division rivals better than I ever will so let me know if I’m wrong in my assessment or if I selected the right guy for my, ahem, esteemed award...enjoy!