1. Jonathan Huberdeau, Florida Panthers
Like Ovechkin and Kaprizov, Huberdeau is the offensive leader for his club. His 47 assists are 16 better than the next closest Panther, and six clear of the next closest skater across the entire NHL. In terms of points, he’s scored 20 more points than any of his Florida teammates and he’s got a slight edge over 2020 MVP Leon Draisaitl.
It’s crazy to me that on a team that is as explosive as Florida, one player could be so much more productive than the rest. I’m not suggesting that the Panthers would be lost with Huberdeau, but I can’t picture this team being a top-two club in its own division without the masterful season that number 11 has put together.
Further stats to complement his offensive excellence include a plus-19 rating, 19 points on the power play, two game-winning goals, and a career-high three shorthanded points. Again, he is doing it all for the Cats in what could turn out to be the best season in franchise history.
What I believe separates Huberdeau from the competition is that the value of the first two players I’ve included on this list has gotten their teams solidly into playoff positions, but his performance has the Florida Panthers firmly at the top of the postseason bracket.
Florida owns a 32-10-5 record, which not only leads the Atlantic Division, but also the NHL. Huberdeau’s offensive production has led the Panthers’ top-ranked offense in the league, which scores 4.1 goals per game. Further, no team has a better goal differential than Florida, which boasts a +55.
Huberdeau, as the driving force behind a dominant season thus far in Sunrise, should be viewed as the favorite to take home the Hart Trophy.
An MVP case can be made for many players in this NHL season, but these three have started to separate themselves from the rest. They’re well-positioned to be MVP candidates after the first half of the year, and now they have to solidify their resumes down the stretch.