This morning, the National Hockey League announced that Leon Draisaitl has been named a Hart Trophy finalist along with Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon and New York’s Artemi Panarin.
Around these parts, we’ve actually gotten accustomed to having the season close out with one of our guys being nominated for the league’s MVP award, but normally we’re talking about Connor McDavid. The fact that we also have Leon Draisaitl as a second candidate to potentially win the Hart Trophy in any given year is something that’s going to take some time to get used to, but a blessing that I’m all too happy to have. I mean, how spoiled are we, right? As for the nomination, seeing Leon’s name alongside Nathan MacKinnon and Artemi Panarin was absolutely no surprise given the ridiculous season that saw him put up 43 goals and 67 assists for 110 points in only 71 games. Regardless of teammates or linemates or any other complaint voiced by opposing fanbases and media, Draisaitl had the kind of year that deserves not only the nomination but also the award as well. At least, that’s how I see it.
So what is the Hart Trophy exactly? According to NHL.com:
The Hart Memorial Trophy is an annual award given “to the player adjudged to be the most valuable to his team.” The winner is selected in a poll of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association in all NHL cities at the end of the regular season.
With a Ted Lindsay Award nomination already on the books and an Art Ross Trophy in his pocket, it’s hard to see any logical reason why Leon Draisaitl should not also win the Hart Trophy but I also understand that I’m incredibly biased. To me, Draisaitl was undoubtedly dominant from start to finish and outside of a messy +/- from back in November — who counts that anyway — he’s done everything for this team that you could ever ask of him. What’s going to be interesting, though, is watching the mental gymnastics that will come out on social media by other fanbases over the next few weeks to try and discount the HercuLEON (see what I did there) year he had. Then again, this is an award voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers Association and who knows what they’re thinking, so we’ll have to wait and see how the totals shake out. But considering we have the same three finalists as we did for the Ted Lindsay award, it’s going to be very interesting to see if the players and media found a consensus on who was the best player this past season.
Regardless of what happens, the fact that Draisaitl is up for both the Hard and Ted Lindsay awards is an accomplishment that he should be very proud of and one that should excite every Oilers fan lucky enough to watch him play. Lastly, I wanted to send out another thank you to the Buffalo Sabres for letting Leon slide to us at number three back in 2014 because I don’t think we do it enough. You guys are the best.
So why does Leon Draisaitl deserve the Hart Trophy to go along with the Art Ross Trophy he already has and the Ted Lindsay Award that I’m predicting will follow? Watching all of his goals from the 2019-20 season couldn’t hurt. Frankly, in my opinion, watching this highlight pack could very well be the most productive thing you’ll do all day. Congrats, Leon. Well deserved, good sir.