Hart Trophy Finalists: Sidney Crosby vs. Ryan Getzlaf vs. Claude Giroux

Forwards Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Ryan Getzlaf of the Anaheim Ducks and Claude Giroux of the Philadelphia Flyers are the three finalists for the 2013-14 Hart Memorial Trophy, awarded “to the player adjudged to be the most valuable to his team,” the National Hockey League announced today.

These were the top three vote getters from the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association balloting. Crosby is the only previous winner, taking home the Hart in 2007.

Who wins the MVP award for the regular season?

Why Sidney Crosby Deserves The Hart

From the NHL:

Crosby posted 36 goals as well as a League-leading 68 assists and 104 points to capture his second career Art Ross Trophy and lead the Penguins to their second consecutive division title. He registered points in 60 of the 80 games he played in (75.0%), including 30 multi-point performances, and never went more than two consecutive games without registering a point. Crosby also reached the 100-point milestone for the fifth time in his career and on Nov. 29 hit 700 career points, doing so in his 497th game, the fastest among active players and sixth-fastest in NHL history. The 26-year-old Cole Harbour, N.S., native is a Hart Trophy finalist for the fourth time after winning the award in 2006-07 and finishing as a runner-up in 2009-10 and 2012-13.

Crosby also helped the Penguins battle through some significant and long-term injuries this season. And hey, if that criteria is good enough for coach of the year, it’s good enough for the Hart.

Why Ryan Getzlaf Deserves the Hart

From the NHL:

Getzlaf scored a career-high 31 goals and ranked second in the League with 87 points to power the Ducks to the top record in the Western Conference for the first time in franchise history. He posted a 14-game point streak Nov. 15-Dec. 15 (6-11—17), the longest in the NHL since the 2011-12 season. Getzlaf also set a career high with seven game-winning goals, second on the team to Corey Perry (9), and recorded a +28 rating, the second-highest of his career (2007-08: +32), to help the Ducks set franchise records for wins (54), points (116), points percentage (.707), home wins (29) and road wins (25). The 28-year-old Regina, Sask., native is a Hart Trophy finalist for the first time.

Elliotte Friedman, who voted for Getzlaf, has the best take on why the Ducks center deserves the award. Basically, the West is hella tough and the East is not, so Getzlaf did more heavy lifting than Crosby.

Why Claude Giroux Deserves The Hart

From the NHL:

Giroux matched a career high with 28 goals and finished third in the NHL scoring race with 86 points to help the Flyers bounce back from a 3-9-0 start to the season to qualify for the playoffs for the sixth time in the past seven years. After being held pointless in his first five games and not scoring a goal until his 16th contest, Giroux totaled 28-51—79 in his final 67 outings of the season, an average of 1.18 points per game. He also compiled a career-long, nine-game point streak Dec. 11-30, totaling 6-11—17 in that span, and recorded his 100th NHL goal Dec. 19. The 26-year-old Hearst, Ont., native is a Hart Trophy finalist for the first time.

Corey Perry and Alex Ovechkin both won the Hart with “down the stretch” domination, but neither of them were as putrid as Giroux was early in the season, when his lack of production led to his coach being fired. But there’s no question once he turned the key on his offense, the Flyers motored into the postseason. A worthy candidate, if not winner.

Who Wins The Hart?

Crosby. The League’s best offensive player usually gets Hart love, and that it’s an easy case to be made for Crosby makes this practically a lock. Not as unanimous as MacKinnon for Calder, but close.

Our Ballot

1. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins

2. Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks

3. Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers

4. Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars

5. Joe Thornton, San Jose Sharks

Huzzah, we nailed the top three!

We have a hard and fast rule about Hart Trophy candidates having to come from playoff teams save for some extreme cases (like Bobrovsky last season) in which they can make the top five, but not the top spot. So while someone like Phil Kessel built an impressive Hart case, the Leafs had to be in it for him to win it.

Figuring out Jamie Benn or Seguin was tough, but ultimately it was Seguin that energized the Stars. Granted, in the postseason, Benn was revealed as the better leader. But that’s Conn Smythe territory.

As for Thornton, he was the Sharks’ best possession forward by far and an absolute stud for that team. Obviously it’s not the day to make the case for a Sharks player being the MVP of anything but abject failure, but he made the fifth spot on my list.

Semyon Varlamov and Patrice Bergeron were close, but both of them had other players of equal worth on their teams. (As great as Varly was, Matt Duchene was the heart and soul of that team.)

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