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Nathan MacKinnon gets the shaft again from Hart Trophy voters

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Nathan MacKinnon

Look, don’t get me wrong. Leon Draisaitl is a heck of a player, as evidenced by his winning the Hart Trophy as NHL most valuable player for 2019-20 – the player who, as a longstanding member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, got my second-place vote. But – and go ahead and call me a homer if you want – I voted Nathan MacKinnon first on my ballot, and here’s why:

Because, well, MacKinnon was more valuable to his team than Draisaitl.

I don’t want to bog this all down in this stat, and that stat and just compare a million different numbers. I just know how much MacKinnon literally carried his team throughout much of the regular season, when a total siege of injuries hit, most especially to his own linemates. The fact that MacKinnon got 93 points, in 69 games, playing at least a third of the season without either Gabe Landeskog or Mikko Rantanen – sometimes both – on his line, is testimony to how valuable he was to his team – a team that finished second in the Western Conference.

Like I said, I don’t want to make this too stat-centric. Draisaitl had more goals and points than MacKinnon (110-93). He had 10 game-winning goals, while MacKinnon had four. MacKinnon was much better in fancystat analytics than Draisaitl. MacKinnon’s Corsi for percentage was a whopping 60.1. Draisaitl’s was a subpar 47.9. This helps explain why MacKinnon was a plus-13 and Draisaitl a minus-7.

We all know Draisaitl is a teammate and frequent linemate of Connor McDavid. I’m actually not going to penalize him for that, because – and hockey people will tell you this – it’s not easy playing with a guy as talented as McDavid. Hockey is littered with guys who couldn’t play on a line with great players, but Draisaitl has more than shown he can.

I just believe, absolutely, that MacKinnon was the most valuable player to his team this season. He was the better all-around hockey player.

That’s why he got my vote. But he finished second in the voting for the second time in three years.

Here’s a link that shows how the rest of the PHWA voted (and, ugh, I guess I forgot to tell someone that the name of my affiliation has changed). Two of the 170 members who voted did not have him even in their top five. Hey, I’ve made some goofs before too in voting for trophies but…woof.

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Adrian Dater - Kiss and Larry Bird fan. Writer with @Gambling and @Bookies. Previously Denver Post, SI, Bleacher Report to name just a few.

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Aaron Hinton

What did these morons who didn’t vote for MacK base their argument on, I wonder?

dp10

Draisaitl won it primarily because he outpaced McDavid in scoring and because he ran away with the scoring race when McDavid was injured. I am honestly fine with that decision. I also think this decision seems far less egregious than when Taylor Hall snatched the Hart from MacKinnon in 2018 despite being behind MacKinnon in the scoring race and despite MacKinnon, in his break out year, carrying a “48pt team” to their first post-season in 4 years.

I think MacKinnon will get his MVP trophy when he breaks the 100pt mark.

Adrian Dater

Edmonton also lost four of the seven games McDavid missed

dp10

But Draisaitl also had 12 pts during that 6 game stretch (3W, 2L, 1OTL) in February. As a German, obviously I am a little partial to our first NHL MVP, but even then the guy had a monster season and frankly him stepping out of McDavid‘s massive shadow is quite a feat in and of itself and is probably what got him the laurels. Again, in my opinion, this is completely different from 2018.

dp10

Btw..did I read BSN Denver in that spreadsheet? That’s not where my money goes…

Adrian Dater

Yes. I thought for sure the NHL had my correct affiliation now but I guess not. Not too thrilled about it either

The PG

Your “brilliant” (your word, in a very recent article) peer had them as Drasaitl / McDavid / Pastrnak / MacKinnon / Panarin. Maybe ask him about that. Maybe ask him to justify 2 players from the same team (?!) going 1-2, and Mac going 4th?

Not so brilliant ballot, in my opinion.

chippy play

/shrug

It’s obviously an award for offensive ability only, so not nearly as meaningful as people make it out to be.

We can be annoyed by it. Or instead we can just stop and remember that Avs have Nathan MacKinnon on the team instead of Leon Draisaitl, and let out a huge sigh of relief.

The PG

“Offensive ability” is what the Art Ross is for (total points). Also, Carey Price won the Hart in 2015, and there are other goalies and defenders who have won over the years, so definitely not an “offensive ability only” award.

I agree that arguing over these pieces of metal has no value. I wasn’t arguing in my original post. Inquiring? Yes. Sarcastic? Most definitely.

chippy play

Yes, I don’t think my sarcasm came through in that statement.

It should be different that the Art Ross, but seems like it just isn’t for too many voters.

captainjoe19

This is so true. I think most hockey people would want MacKinnon on their team over Draisaitl…

Catatafish

AD how do you compare the two though? I find it extremely difficult to do when I watch all the Avs games and maybe a handful of Edmonton games during the season. Same on that year with MacK vs Taylor Hall. I felt that was the best season MacKinnon had so far and how could have anyone been better. But then I maybe saw four full games of Taylor Hall and felt it’s impossible to compare thw two.

Adrian Dater

I think the voters just got it wrong this year. The people who voted McDavid No. 2 after Draisaitl have a lot of explaining to do. How is one guy the most valuable player on the team, but the next most valuable player in the league is his teammate? It’s a flawed system, bottom line.

Kurt Scherer

Well, this argument is pretty silly. Does playing with the second best player in the league preclude the best player from the MVP? Had Babe Ruth played with Honus Wagner or Willie Mays, would he somehow be less valuable (and, trolls, I anticipate your argument. Goodness =value)? Contribution to one’s team is neither enhanced or diminished by the ability of one’s teammates.

Kurt Scherer

That said, I agree the voters got it wrong. My counter-argument above is hypothetical as applied to the best player in the league. I just don’t think Leon Draisaitl is the best player in the league. Appreciate the coverage, Dater.

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