Winning the Hart Memorial Trophy as MVP of the NHL is the highest individual honor a player can receive.
Some players have won one, two, or nine (as did "The Great One" Wayne Gretzky).
Let's take a look at the last 22 Hart Trophy winners, where we have to go as far back as 1973, and see how they stack up against one another.
Jose Theodore is the last goalie to win the Hart Trophy, and second since Jacques Plante in 1961.
In 2001-02, Theodore won the Vezina Trophy along with the Hart, after posting a 2.11 GAA and a stellar .931 save percentage, and registering seven shutouts.
That was good enough to beat out Jarome Iginla's 52-goal, 96-point season.
The Vancouver Canucks' captain, and one-half of the dynamic Swedish twin duo, has had some stellar seasons in recent history, ranking amongst the league's elite in scoring.
In his impressive Hart-winning season, 2009-10, Sedin tallied 112 points in 82 games.
Sedin is one of the most dangerous forwards in the game today, especially when combined with his twin brother, Daniel.
Joe Thornton is one of the league's best playmakers and power forwards.
His MVP season saw him tally an astounding 96 assists and 125 points in 81 games, split between Boston and San Jose, good enough for the league lead.
Thornton, a gold medalist notorious for his NHL postseason woes, unfortunately, is still searching for his first Stanley Cup.
Corey Perry, the 26-year-old Ontario native, has emerged onto the scene as one the league's premier snipers.
Perry, the league's reigning Rocket Richard and Hart Trophy winner, is looking to build off of last season's record year with an even stronger 2011-12 campaign.
Eric Lindros' storied career was sadly cut short due to concussion issues.
The menacing power forward captured the Hart Trophy in 1994-95 with the Philadelphia Flyers, when he registered 70 points in 46 games in the partially-locked-out season.
Before the concussion issues arose, Lindros was a dominant force every season in Philly.
Let's face it. Defensemen don't get nearly enough love in the Hart voting.
In 2000, then-St. Louis Blues defenseman Chris Pronger became the first rearguard to win the MVP since Bobby Orr took it home in 1972.
Pronger, still among the top defenders in the game at age 37, is looking to captain the Flyers to his second Stanley Cup.
Good things sure do come in small packages.
Martin St. Louis has been proving doubters wrong his entire life.
Undrafted, the persistent St. Louis is still performing at a top level at age 36, as he finished with 99 points last season, good for second in the league.
Sergei Fedorov was arguably one of the most exciting players to ever suit up in a Detroit Red Wings uniform.
The dazzling Russian had many great years in Detroit, but especially in 1993-94.
That season saw Fedorov register 56 goals and 120 points, the only campaign where he would even tally more than 37 goals.
On October 8th, 2011, the Avalanche organization immortalized Peter Forsberg, sending his famous No. 21 to the rafters of the Pepsi Center for good—as it should have been.
Behind Joe Sakic, Forsberg is easily the greatest player to have suited up in an Avalanche uniform.
With the exception of the poor comeback last season in which he played two games, Forsberg was never a minus-player in his 708-game career.
Forsberg was a one-time Hart winner in 2003, and two-time Stanley Cup Champion in 1996 and 2001.
Bobby Clarke is arguably the greatest Philadelphia Flyer to ever play in the City of Brotherly Love.
Clarke, a three-time MVP, led the "Broad Street Bullies" to back-to-back Stanley Cup Championships in 1974 and 1975.
Arguably the most prolific goal scorer the game has seen in quite some time, Alex Ovechkin has taken the league by storm since his arrival in 2005-06.
Shown above is most simply known as "The Goal," the one play that probably offers the best characteristics that sum up Ovechkin—persistence, finesse, and pure skill.
It may be the finest goal most of us have the pleasure of seeing in our lifetimes.
A two-time Hart winner, expect Ovechkin to win many more in his career. The one thing that would help establish him further is a Stanley Cup. Hopefully that's on its way, too.
The NHL's ninth all-time leading scorer has dazzled repeatedly over the course of his career.
The one-time Hart Trophy winner, in 1998-99, has a remarkable 1,606 career points in 1,281 games.
On top of that, Jagr is the all-time leader in game-winning goals with 112, and he won the Art Ross Trophy four years in a row from 1997 to 2001.
Now, at age 39, Jagr hopes to make one last run at a Stanley Cup with the Philadelphia Flyers.
The league's most decorated superstar comes in at No. 12.
Since his playing days in Rimouski of the QMJHL, Crosby hasn't had a season under 100 points, with the exception of his two seasons shortened by injury.
With already a phenomenal resume compiled at this point in the 24-year-old's career, Crosby became the youngest player to achieve a number of goals, including being the youngest NHL captain to lead his team to a Stanley Cup.
Phil Esposito, "Espo," was known for his complete style of game.
The guy could hit, shoot and score—and score prolifically, too.
Esposito, the oldest of these MVPs, sits prestigiously at No. 10 on the NHL all-time scoring list.
He started his career off with the Rangers, but played his best hockey with the Big Bad Bruins without a doubt. There, Esposito recorded six seasons with over 100 points and racked up two Hart Trophies.
The great Steve Yzerman grew up idolizing Bryan Trottier and wore No. 19 like the Isles' great did.
Trottier, the NHL's 15th all-time leading scorer who also carries a plus-minus of plus-452, holds a couple interesting records, too.
He's one of eight NHL players with multiple five-goal games, as well as holding the record for most points in a a period, with six.
Trottier won the Calder Trophy in his first season, setting a rookie point record at the time, with 95.
However, his biggest feat was being a key part of the Islanders' dynasty that won four straight Stanley Cups from 1980 to 1983.
Joe Sakic sits at No. 8 in this list, as he does on the NHL's all-time scoring list, with 1,641 points in 1,378 career games.
A premier talent, Sakic was also a premier leader who will probably be known as one of the finest captains in league history.
Joe Sakic will likely go down as the best Colorado Avalanche player to suit up in the blue and maroon.
"The Flower," Guy Lafleur, spent almost his entire outstanding career with the Montreal Canadiens, where he won five Stanley Cups.
A two-time, back-to-back Hart Trophy winner in 1977 and '78, Lafleur recorded six straight seasons, from 1974 to 1980, in which he registered at least 50 goals.
"The Dominator" was one of the most colorful goaltenders the NHL has ever seen.
A two-time Stanley Cup winner with the Detroit Red Wings in 2002, and as a backup in 2008, Hasek dominated in the late 90s especially. He won six Vezina Trophies from 1994 to 2001, and also won two Hart Trophies in 1997 and 1998—years he also won the Vezina.
With 389 career wins, Hasek sits 11th all-time in that category, while also boasting the highest career save percentage of all time, at .922.
Brett Hull, son of former great Bobby Hull, was renowned for his signature one-knee one-timer.
Hull currently sits third all-time in NHL goal scoring with 741.
It's safe to say that Hull scored one of the most controversial goals of all time in 1999 to clinch the Stanley Cup for his Dallas Stars. He also won a second Cup in 2002 with the Detroit Red Wings.
Alongside Wayne Gretzky, Hull is the only other NHL player to score 50 goals in 50 games more than once.
Along with Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier played a starring role in the Edmonton Oilers' 1980s dynasty.
Messier has won six Stanley Cups in his career, five of which came with the Oilers.
The two-time Hart Trophy winner played a total of 1,756 career games are second only to Gordie Howe, who played in 11 more games than Messier.
In those 1,756 games, Messier totaled a whopping 1,887 points, which is second to only Wayne Gretzky all time.
Wayne Gretzky is the greatest scorer the game has ever seen, holding the best career points-per-game average in NHL history.
With 894 goals and 2,857 points in 1,487 games, Gretzky holds the records for most career goals and points, along with a boatload more.
With his stellar, skillful play, he helped lead the Oilers to four Stanley Cups in the 1980s.
The longest consecutive point streak, most points in a season, most 100-plus point seasons and plenty of more records all belong to Gretzky.
Perhaps the most impressive streak, one that we will likely never see again, is his eight straight Hart Trophies from 1980 to 1987.
Gretzky would add one more in 1989, giving him nine total.
"Super Mario" gets the No. 1 spot on my list.
While he may not boast the records and trophies that Wayne Gretzky has, Mario Lemieux still captured three Hart Trophies, and also two Stanley Cups as a Pittsburgh Penguins player.
Much like the situation Sidney Crosby found himself in coming into Pittsburgh, relocation was a hot topic in Pittsburgh in 1984, when Lemieux broke into the league.
The team was doing poorly, and Lemieux had little to work with on his wings. Yet he still carried the workload, scoring five 100-plus point seasons before the team won its first Cup in 1990, which included an MVP, Calder Trophy and Art Ross Trophy in that run. Five or six years can make a huge difference in scoring, as shown with Gretzky. "The Great One" stepped right into the league, surrounded with an all-star cast. If teams focused on shutting him down one night, it didn't matter. They could just pass the puck to Messier, Kurri, Coffey, or Anderson.
Lemieux was also diagnosed with cancer in January of 1993, shocking the world. This would keep him off the ice for over a month with radiation treatments.
However, on the last day of treatments, Lemieux hopped on a plane to Philadelphia in time to play the Flyers on March 2, 1993. That night, he tallied a goal and an assist, receiving a standing ovation thereafter from a usually-harsh Flyers crowd.
The Pens went on to win an NHL-record 17 straight games upon his amazing return. Remarkably, despite only playing in 60 games that season, Lemieux would go on to win the Art Ross Trophy for the fourth time of his career, edging out Pat Lafontaine by 12 points.
What most people may not know about Lemieux is that his career goals-per-game average through 1997 (ignoring his late comeback) is the best of all-time. Yes, even better than "The Great One." In my mind, along with points-per-game, is the most definitive statistic of them all.
Lemieux sits at seventh all-time in scoring with 1,723 points in 915 games. Despite "Le Magnifique" playing in 572 less games than Gretzky, .805 goals-per-game average is the best to ever exist and may be the best that ever come to exist.