Hart Trophy Watch: Ranking the 3 Current Front Runners

Andy Campbell Correspondent IDecember 7, 2011

Hart Trophy Watch: Ranking the 3 Current Front Runners

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    With the holidays approaching, the Hart Trophy race in the NHL is heating up. Who will be the player to take home the hardware in 2012?

    We have seen some great individual performances thus far. While two candidates have been consistent from the start, one candidate has recently emerged.

    If the trophy were going to be awarded today, there is a good chance that the three candidates profiled in Las Vegas will be Claude Giroux, Phil Kessel and Jonathan Toews.

    Will this hold true? Time will tell, but let's take a look at these three. 

3. Claude Giroux

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    Claude Giroux has always played with a lot of grit and has an immense amount of talent, but few outside of Philadelphia were prepared for the tear he has gone on this season.

    Giroux has been hot from the get go, and is currently tied for third in the NHL is scoring with 32 points. Giroux has tallied 15 goals and 17 assists in 25 games, and has a plus-3 rating.

    He is the straw that stirs the drink for a Philadelphia Flyers team that may have the ingredients to make a serious run at the Stanley Cup. 

    The Flyers are currently fifth the Eastern Conference, but chances are they will not be there for long. If Giroux continues his play, expect the Fly-boys to move up and for Giroux to be a legitimate Hart Trophy candidate. 

2. Jonathan Toews

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    Any of you who saw his performance on Versus against the Phoenix Coyotes Monday night will agree that Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews is a serious candidate.

    He is tied for first in the NHL in goals with 17, tied for third in points with 32, has a plus-11, rating and leads all NHL centers with a 62.3 face-off percentage.

    The Hawks are second in the Western Conference with 36 points and have a great chance to be the No. 1 seed heading into the postseason.

    If the award was given out today, folks would have to take a serious look at "Tazer" to bring home the prize. 

1. Phil Kessel

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    Whether you love him or hate him, or whether you wrote him off or believe in him, Phil Kessel has been the real deal in 2011-2012.

    The Toronto Maple Leafs are back in the playoff picture and Kessel is the main reason why. He is the current leader in points in the NHL with 17 goals, 18 assists, 35 points and has a plus-1 rating. His 17 goals are also tied for the league lead. 

    Currently sitting sixth in the East with 33 points, the Leafs are poised to make a playoff run. A lot of their playoff hopes with rest on the shoulders of No. 81.

    It may be safe to say that he has been the best player in the NHL to date.