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Photo Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Will Draisaitl Avoid the Hart Trophy Set Back?

Leon Draisaitl won the Art Ross trophy with 110 points in 71 games. His fellow NHLPA competitors voted him the Most Outstanding Player (Ted Lindsay Award) and the PHWA voted him the Most Valuable Player (Hart Trophy).

He had an incredible season, scoring 110 points and averaging 1.54 points per game (P/G). It will be impossible to match last season’s point total because of the shortened season, and history suggests maintaining the same P/G will be difficult as well. In the 2000s, only one Hart trophy winner has produced more points (or better goalie stats) the next season: Connor McDavid had 100 points in 2017, and 108 in 2018.

Alex Ovechkin did have a higher P/G in both seasons after he won the Hart trophy.

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Here is a list of the Hart trophy winners since 2000 including their Hart winning season (in bold) and the following season.

Chris Pronger:
2000: 14-48-62 in 79 games.
2001: 8-39-47 in 51 games. *He was on pace to produce more points until he was injured.

Joe Sakic:
2001: 54-64-118 in 82 games. 
2002: 26-53-79 in 82 games.

Jose Theodore:
2002: 30-24-10 with a 2.11 GAA and .931 Sv% in 67 games.
2003: 20-31-6 with a 2.90 GAA and .908 Sv% in 57 games.

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Peter Forsberg:
2003: 29-77-106 in 75 games. 
2004: 18-37-55 in 39 games. * He was injured, and his P/G was slightly lower.

Martin St. Louis:
2004: 38-56-94 in 82 games.
2005: No season
2006: 31-30-61 in 80 games.

Joe Thornton:
2006: 29-96-125 in 81 games.
2007: 22-92-114 in 82 games. Still an excellent season, but 11 fewer points.

Sidney Crosby:
2007: 36-84-120 in 79 games.
2008: 24-48-72 in 53 games. His P/G was lower prior to being injured.

Alex Ovechkin:
2008: 65-47-112 in 82 games.
2009: 56-54-110 in 79 games.
He had a slightly higher P/G.
2010: 50-59-109 in 72 games. Higher P/G again, but missed 10 games.

He did have a higher points per game in 2009, and again in 2010. He was extremely consistent those three seasons. His 2008 season was the only time he scored 60 goals thus far in his fabulous career.

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Henrik Sedin:
2010: 29-83-112 in 82 games.
2011: 19-75-94 in 82 games

Corey Perry:
2011: 50-48-98 in 82 games.
2012: 37-23-60 in 80 games

Evgeni Malkin:
2012: 50-59-109 in 75 games.
2013: 9-24-33 in 31 games. Lockout shortened season, but still a much lower P/G.

Ovechkin:
2013: 32-24-56 in 48 games.
2014: 51-28-79 in 78 games. He did score more because he won during the lockout shortened season. He did have a lower P?G.

Crosby:
2014: 36-68-104 in 80 games.
2015: 28-56-84 in 77 games.

Carey Price:
2015: 44-16-6 with a 1.96 GAA and .933Sv%
2016: Only played 12 games due to injury.

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Patrick Kane:
2016: 46-60-106 in 82 games.
2017: 34-55-89 in 82 games.

Connor McDavid:
2017: 30-70-100 in 82 games.
2018: 41-67-108 in 82 games.

Taylor Hall
2018: 39-54-93 in 76 games.
2019: 11-26-37 in 33 games.

Kucherov
2019: 41-87-128 in 82 games.
2020: 33-52-85 in 68 games.

McDavid was the only one with more actual points, while Ovechkin had a higher P/G both times and he is the only player to win consecutive Hart trophies in the past 20 years. Ovechkin is the only skater to win consecutive Hart trophies since Wayne Gretzky won eight in a row between 1980-1987. Goaltender Dominik Hasek won back-to-back in 1997 and 1998.

Many of them still had very solid seasons, and I expect Draisaitl to do the same, but can he join the small group of players who have a higher P/G total in the year after winning the Hart?

WHAT WILL DRAI DO?

Nov 4, 2019; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Arizona Coyotes defensemen Oliver Ekman-Larsson (23) tries to check Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl (29) during the third period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

This season is different due to the pandemic. It is a wildcard. Will the lengthy layoff allow Draisaitl to produce more points early in the season, when play is not as tight and crisp? When next season begins, only four teams will have played 20+ games in the previous 10 months (Tampa, Dallas, Vegas and New York Islanders).

Seven other teams have played 10+ games, while another 13 teams played between three and nine games, and seven teams (Anaheim, Buffalo, Detroit, Los Angeles, New Jersey, Ottawa and San Jose) have played none. Most players will be rested, and possibly rusty. Maybe that, combined with Draisaitl’s ridiculous skill, will allow him to match his P/G production from last year.

Draisaitl does have age on his side. Only McDavid (20), Ovechkin (22 and 23) and Crosby (19) in 2007 were younger than Draisaitl (24) when they won the Hart. He is just entering his prime and he is the only player in the NHL who scored 100+ points in each of the previous two seasons. He is a dominant threat offensively and he, along with McDavid, drive the most dangerous powerplay in the NHL.

Draisaitl produced 16-28-44 on the PP last season and a very good 0.61 P/G. That was the highest powerplay P/G since Crosby’s 0.77 in 2007. Draisaitl was only the 26th player to score 44+ PP points in a season in the 2000s (17 of them came in 2006 and 2007 when PP chances per game were much higher), and only the fourth player (Ovechkin 46 in 2009, Nick Backstrom 44 in 2014 and Nikita Kucherov 48 in 2019) since 2009. Before the season was postponed due to COVID, Draisaitl was on pace to score 50 PP points.

He and McDavid are scary good on the powerplay, and the addition of Tyson Barrie along with a fully recovered McDavid leads me to believe the Oilers PP could actually be more productive this season. Which is remarkable, considering the Oilers 29.5% PP efficiency last year was the fourth highest in the NHL history since they started tracking it in 1977/1978. Only the 1978 Montreal Canadiens (31.9%), the 1978 New York Islanders (31.4%) and the 1979 Islanders (31.2%) were better.

The Islanders PP was incredibly effective between 1978-1983 with a high percentage each season clicking at 31.4%, 31.2%, 23.4%, 29.3%, 27.8% and 26%. It dipped to 23.4% in 1980 because Denis Potvin missed 50 games. They ran the same PP for years with the same five guys on the first PP unit: Mike Bossy, Bryan Trottier, Clarke Gillies up front and Potvin and Stefan Persson on the blueline. When Potvin was out, Jean Potvin (no relation) filled in, but he wasn’t nearly as effective as the future Hall of Famer Potvin.

Between 1978-1983, Potvin led all NHL D-men with 198 PP points, even with missing 50 games. Persson was second with 179 points followed by Borje Salming (161), Randy Carlyle (148) and Brad Park (142). Potvin was fifth in the entire NHL behind Bossy (252), Marcel Dionne (247), Trottier (200) and Wayne Gretzky (199, in only four seasons).

**Sorry, I went down a rabbit hole looking at previous PP stats, but now I’m back on topic.**

Draisaitl’s age, skill and PP prowess gives him a wonderful opportunity to join McDavid, Ovechkin and Chris Pronger (albeit in 51 games )as the only Hart Trophy winners to have a higher point-per-game in the season following winning the Hart Trophy.

I see Draisaitl capable of matching his 1.54 P/G from last season, and I think he will surpass it and finish at 1.55 P/G.

What P/G pace do you see Draisaitl scoring at this season?

MONTH OF GIVING

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You can bid by listening to TSN 1260 and calling 780.444.1260 or text 101260 between 2-6 p.m. today. We are supporting Operation Friendship Seniors Society today.

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