Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov was announced Wednesday as the winner of the 2019 Hart Memorial Trophy as the NHL's most valuable player for the 2018-19 season.
He beat out fellow finalists Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers in a vote by the Professional Hockey Writers Association.
Kucherov was a slam-dunk selection for the league's top individual honor after racking up 41 goals and 87 assists across 82 appearances during the regular season. His 128 points were 12 more than his closest rival (McDavid).
The 26-year-old playmaker also led the NHL in point shares (14.6), once again edging McDavid (13.0) for the top spot, per Hockey Reference.
He downplayed his individual success during an interview with Stephen Whyno of the Associated Press in April, noting he didn't pay much attention to his numbers or Tampa's place in the standings.
"I like to find the open guys and give him a pass that he would be comfortable with, shoot it and score it," Kucherov said. "It just gives me more joy to just give the great pass and land it perfectly on his stick or in his wheelhouse so he can just score a goal."
He added: "Season's been...it's OK. My job is just go out there and play. It's not my job to just talk about it. I don't look back how many games we won. The more important games is ahead of us."
The Bolts were downright dominant during the regular season, posting a 62-16-4 record. Their 62 wins tied the NHL record shared by the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings, and their 128 points fell four shy of the record held by the 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens.
That didn't translate to success in the playoffs, however, as the Columbus Blue Jackets shockingly swept the Lightning in the first round.
Although Tampa Bay's promising season ended on a low note, it doesn't take away from what Kucherov accomplished during the regular season.