Why Connor McDavid will not win his fourth Hart Memorial Trophy

Connor McDavid deserves his nomination as a Hart Trophy finalist, but the same isn't quite as true when it comes to actually taking home the award this season.
2023 NHL Awards - Show
2023 NHL Awards - Show / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

The NHL award nominations continued on Tuesday, with the announcement of the three finalist for the Hart Memorial Trophy. As per NHL.com, this included Edmonton Oilers superstar Connor McDavid, along with the Tampa Bay Lightning's Nikita Kucherov and Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche.

This is the fourth consecutive season McDavid has been nominated, which speaks volumes about just how consistent and valuable he's been for the Oilers. In comparison, this is MacKinnon's fourth overall nomination and the second for Kuchervov.

Of course, Oilers fans will be wondering if their superstar centre can win his fourth Hart Trophy? Or will Kucherov win his second, or will it be MacKinnon claiming his first ever one?

McDavid not the favourite this time around

Objectively speaking, as much as McDavid thoroughly deserves his nomination as a finalist, he is unlikely to win the Hart Trophy for the third time in four years. Which subsequently leads to the question of why?

We appreciate there's a certain amount of subjectivity when it comes to quantifying the player who is most valuable to their team. However, one thing that needs to be clear is that this is about who is most valuable to his team as opposed to who is the best player in the game, otherwise it would be McDavid who wins another Hart Trophy this season.

If you just base it on pure points, Kucherov has the edge with 144 points, versus 140 by MacKinnon and 132 by McDavid. He had career highs in goals, assists and overall points, as he won his first ever Art Ross Trophy.

MacKinnon similarly set career highs in goals, assists and overall points, while McDavid actually had a down year -- for lack of a better phrase -- which speaks volumes about his lofty standards. To be clear though, this mostly relates to his 32 goals, which were his fewest since his second season in 2016-17.

At the same time, the 2015 first overall draft pick's 132 points were the second-most of his nine seasons in the NHL. This included becoming just the fourth ever player to reach 100 assists in a season, although any edge this might had given him was compromised by Kucherov equalling this achievement soon after.

There will be those who argue McDavid would have topped the NHL in scoring if he hadn't missed six games. However, aside from this being about what was actually accomplished rather than potentially, let's at least acknowledge his average points per game were still lower than Kucherov (1.74 versus 1.78).

Contributions to team success

In respect of a team's overall success, the Oilers had 104 regular season points, while the Avalanche had 107 and the Lightning finished with 98. The Avalanche led the NHL in goals, the Oilers were fourth and Lightning were right behind them, at fifth.

Some interesting context that helps in determining who was most valuable, comes in the help a player received from teammates. In this respect, McDavid finished 26 points ahead of Leon Draisaitl, who had 106, with Evan Bouchard finishing third on the team with 82 overall points.

The advantage for Kucherov was more defined in Tampa Bay, finishing 54 points ahead of Brayden Point with 90, followed by Steven Stamkos on 81. Meanwhile in Colorado, MacKinnon was 36 points ahead of Mikko Rantanen on 104, while Cale Maker finished with 90.

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Again, it is our humble opinion that number 97 will not win his fourth Hart Trophy this season, with Kucherov overall deserving to win the award. In fairness though, you can guarantee individual accomplishments are not the top priority for McDavid anyway, with him taking aim at trying to finally win the first Stanley Cup of his playing career.

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