Connor McDavid, Alex Ovechkin headline recent Hart Trophy vote runaways

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Connor McDavid, Alex Ovechkin headline recent Hart Trophy vote runaways originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Connor McDavid was this year’s runaway Hart Trophy winner as NHL MVP and was just the second unanimous Hart Trophy selection in the 97-year history of the award. The only other player to ever be awarded the honor unanimously was Wayne Gretzky in 1981-82.

McDavid received 100 of a possible 100 first-place votes over second-place Auston Matthews, who received 69 second-place votes. Nathan MacKinnon placed third. 

McDavid, 24, had a ridiculous 2021 season and scored 33 goals and had 72 assists in just 56 games played. He put up 1.88 points per game, which was the 22nd best in NHL history and the best since Mario Lemieux’s 2.30 points per game in 1995-96.

In fact, McDavid’s runaway MVP season was one of the highest margins of victory since Alex Ovechkin won the award in the 2007-08 season with 97.99% of the vote and 128 first-place votes. And surprisingly, the MVP vote is never as close as it might seem.

That season, Ovechkin scored 65 goals and had 47 assists to lead the Capitals back to the playoffs for the first time since 2003. 

That 07-08 season was the first of back-to-back MVP awards for the Russian winger, who put up a career-high in goals. Ilya Kovalchuk of the Atlanta Thrashers was next in goals, with 52. 

In 2008, Ovechkin received 1,313 votes for MVP and had 126 more first-place votes than Jarome Iginla and Nicklas Lidstrom, both of whom had two first-place votes. 

Each year since, until McDavid went nuclear, the Hart Trophy has been awarded in a closer race. In the following year after Ovechkin’s first MVP, he followed up with another where he carried 95.04% of the vote after a 56-goal season. Ovechkin narrowly lost out to Henrik Sedin in 2010 which ended a chance of a three-peat.

Ovechkin won the award in the 2013 season where he scored 32 goals in a lockout-shortened 48 game season, the last time he was named MVP. 

Other runaway MVP seasons include Evgeni Malkin in 2012, who had 144 first-place votes ahead of second-place Steven Stamkos (one first-place vote) and third-place Henrik Lundqvist (three votes). Sidney Crosby won the award in 2014 with 128 first-place votes, ahead of second-place Ryan Getzlaf (five votes).

Carey Price won the award in 2015 with 139 first-place votes (compared to Ovechkin’s eight). Patrick Kane won the next season with 121 first-place votes (compared to Crosby’s 11). Nikita Kucherov had a staggering 164-first place vote campaign in 2019, far ahead of Crosby in second, who finished with three first-place votes. 

In short, while the NHL usually has an MVP that feels imminent, McDavid has joined the elite of the elite with Gretzky as a unanimous choice and Ovechkin, Malkin and Crosby as players who were close to getting every first-place vote possible.