Draisaitl, MacKinnon and Panarin named finalists for Hart Trophy


The National Hockey League announced its final round of award finalists on Tuesday with the three candidates for the Hart Trophy. The Hart Trophy is awarded annually to "the player adjudged to be the most valuable to his team," as voted by the Professional Hockey Writers' Association at the end of the regular season.

This year's three finalists for the Hart Trophy this season are Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl, Colorado Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon and New York Rangers forward Artemi Panarin.

Leon Draisaitl | Nathan MacKinnon (@Mackinnon9) | @artemiypanarinYour 2020 Hart Trophy finalists. #NHLAwardsMore from @NHLdotcom ➡️ https://t.co/QWVvSBW4jE pic.twitter.com/7rsJhIAfbY

— NHL (@NHL) July 21, 2020

All three players are also finalists this year for the Ted Lindsay Award, which recognizes the most outstanding player in the regular season as voted upon by members of the NHL Players' Association.

This is the first time that Draisaitl has been named a finalist for the Hart Trophy after he finished the 2019-20 season as the league's top scorer with 110 points (43+67) in 71 games played. The 24-year-old not only scored the most points in the league this season and came away with the Art Ross Trophy, but he also registered the most assists. Draisaitl was also able to add five more points to his total from last season (105 points) in 11 fewer games, and was on pace to finish the 2019-20 season with 50 goals and 77 assists for 127 points in 82 games if the year was not shortened due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Since being drafted third overall in the 2014 NHL Draft by the Oilers, Draisaitl is quickly becoming one of the best playmaking forwards in the league. In 422 career games in parts of six seasons in Edmonton, the native of Cologne, Germany is averaging exactly a point per-game with 422 points (168+254) in that span.

Overall, the Oilers went on to finish the 2019-20 season with a 37-25-9 record with 83 points in the standings. While that was good for second place in the Pacific Division, the team ended up as the fifth-seed in the Western Conference Qualifying Round and will take on the 12th-seeded Chicago Blackhawks.

2019-20 Hart Memorial Trophy finalist: Leon DraisaitlDraisaitl can become the fourth player in @EdmontonOilers history to win the award, joining Wayne Gretzky (8x), Mark Messier (1989-90) and @cmcdavid97 (2016-17). https://t.co/XqPYQHTB0U #NHLAwards #NHLStats pic.twitter.com/2wyrxxFsTT

— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) July 21, 2020

MacKinnon is the only member of this list that has been a finalist for the Hart Trophy before, when he finished second in voting to Taylor Hall in 2018.

The 24-year-old ended up leading the Avalanche this season in scoring with 35 goals and 58 assists for 93 points in 69 games. MacKinnon was on pace to set career-highs in every scoring statistic this season, and was expected to surpass the 100-point mark for the first time in his career.

So far in 525 career games in the NHL, the former first overall pick in the 2013 NHL Draft has went on to score 190 goals, while posting 305 assists for 495 points in seven seasons with the Avalanche.

Colorado had another stellar season in the Western Conference with a 42-20-8 record in 70 games and finished in second place in the Central Division. The Avalanche will be playing in the Western Conference seeding round-robin tournament during the Stanley Cup Qualifying Round to determine the seeding for the top-four teams in the West for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

2019-20 Hart Memorial Trophy finalist: Nathan MacKinnon@Mackinnon9 is looking to become the third @Avalanche / Nordiques player to claim the Hart Trophy, after Joe Sakic (2000 01) and Peter Forsberg (2002-03). https://t.co/XqPYQHTB0U #NHLAwards #NHLStats pic.twitter.com/W0MnFvZVST

— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) July 21, 2020

As for Panarin, the 28-year-old winger had a dynamic first season in New York by setting career-highs in goals (32), assists (63) and points (95) in 69 games played. Panarin was on pace to score 112 points this season, while also scoring 38 goals and registering 74 assists. He led the Rangers in scoring this year after signing a massive seven-year contract this past offseason worth $81.5 million.

This is the first time that Panarin has been a finalist for the Hart Trophy in his dynamic five-year career in the NHL. Back in 2016, the Russian winger was able to claim the Calder Trophy as the league's Rookie of the Year while with the Blackhawks. So far in 391 NHL games, Panarin is producing well-over a point per-game pace with 148 goals and 267 assists for 415 points.

The Rangers did not have the greatest of seasons with a 37-28-5 record and 79 points, which was good for just sixth place in the Metropolitan Division. However, given the circumstances of the 24-team Return To Play format this summer, the Rangers were able to qualify for the play-in round and will face the seventh-seeded Carolina Hurricanes in the best-of-five series.

2019-20 Hart Memorial Trophy finalist: Artemi Panarin@artemiypanarin is vying to become the fifth @NYRangers player to win the Hart Trophy and second to do so in the expansion era (since 1967-68), following Mark Messier in 1991-92. https://t.co/XqPYQHTB0U #NHLAwards #NHLStats pic.twitter.com/YvOWN1GSmv

— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) July 21, 2020

An announcement of the winner of the Hart Trophy will be announced during the Conference Finals.