NHL: Top 3 midseason candidates for the Hart Trophy

We are halfway through the NHL season and the stars are pulling away from the pretenders. Here are the three early Hart candidates for the 2019-20 season.

According to the NHL, the Hart Trophy is given annually to the “player judged most valuable to his team”. The last three winners of the trophy are Nikita Kucherov, Taylor Hall, and Connor McDavid.

Since the 2019-20 season is halfway through and there have been many shining stars that have stood above the pack, let’s take a look at who the finalists for the Hart Trophy should be. Here are the early contenders for the Hart Trophy.

3. Connor McDavid

Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are the most dangerous duo in the NHL and are the biggest reason that the Edmonton Oilers are even in playoff contention.

Every time McDavid steps onto the ice, everyone in the arena is bracing themselves for a highlight-reel play. He currently leads the league with 64 points (22 goals and 42 assists) and is second in ice-time among forwards (22:11) just behind Draisaitl.

The Hart is given to the player that is the most valuable and if you were to take McDavid out of the Oilers’ equation, they would freefall down the standings. He is the lifeblood of the team and definitely a top contender for the award.

2. Jack Eichel

Last season was Jack Eichel‘s best season with the Buffalo Sabres. He recorded 82 points in just 77 games played. In just 41 games this season, Eichel is just two goals shy of his career-high of 28 and is on pace to demolish last season’s totals.

He is the Sabres’ top producer by 19 points and is single-handedly trying to pull the team into a playoff spot. While McDavid has Draisaitl, in Buffalo, it’s a one-man show starring Eichel.

He is third among all forwards in ice-time (21:58) and is expected to not just play against top lines, but lead the power play and play on the penalty kill as well. Head coach Ralph Krueger leans on him in every single game and Eichel delivers.

Eichel is the first Sabres player since Pat Lafontaine to record 50 points in less than 35 games. That shows how strong of a season Eichel has been having. His third All-Star invitation makes him just the seventh player in Sabres history to be invited three times. He is having a historic season and is a big contender for the Hart.

1. Nathan MacKinnon

Nathan MacKinnon has been one of the best players in the league for the past three seasons with back-to-back 90+ point seasons and is showing no signs of slowing down. He dominates every time he steps onto the ice and is a force to play against. MacKinnon is third in the league with 62 points (25G 37A) in just 41 games played. He averages 1.5 points per game, which is the most in the entire league.

Eichel is 19 points ahead of the Sabres’ second-highest points producer. MacKinnon is 31 points ahead of Cale Makar, the Avalanche’s next best producer. 31 points. If you take MacKinnon out of the roster, they would freefall out of second-place in the Central Division.

Next: 2010s All-Decade Team

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With all the injuries the Avalanche’s big stars like Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog suffered, MacKinnon stepped up in a huge way to put his team on his back and kept them in the conversation. He is by far the most important player to a single team and is the front-runner for the Hart Trophy.

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