Boston Bruins right winger David Pastrnak doesn't think there's much of a debate over which player should win the Hart Trophy as the NHL's MVP for the 2019-20 season.
He's of the opinion that Edmonton Oilers center Leon Draisaitl is the most deserving candidate.
"The way he played this year, it's absolutely no question for me," Pastrnak told reporters on a Zoom conference call Monday.
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Draisaitl has a very strong case to win the Hart Trophy.
The Oilers star already won the Art Ross Trophy as the league's leading scorer with 110 points (43 goals, 67 assists) in 71 games. He helped keep the Oilers offense going when superstar teammate Connor McDavid missed about two weeks in February, during which the team earned a 3-2-1 record. His case also is strengthened by the fact Edmonton finished the regular season in second place in the Pacific Division, which earned the Oilers a spot in the upcoming play-in round as part of the league's return to play plan. It's not often a player wins the Hart from a team outside the playoff picture.
Draisaitl does have some competition for the award, though.
Pastrnak has a good chance to be a Hart Trophy finalist himself. He tied for the league lead in goals with 48, and his 95 points led a Bruins team that won the Presidents' Trophy for having the league's best regular season record.
Two other players with a chance to win the award are Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon and New York Rangers left winger Artemi Panarin.
Panarin, in particular, could be Draisaitl's toughest competition for the Hart. The Russian forward put up similarly strong offensive numbers surrounded by far less talent in New York than Draisaitl was in Edmonton. The Rangers also were better defensively with Panarin on the ice than the Oilers were with Draisaitl.
It's going to be a fascinating vote, but after leading the league in scoring by a wide 15-point margin on a team in the playoff mix, Draisaitl should be considered the favorite for the Hart Trophy.