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NHL Midseason Awards: Alex Ovechkin on top of PHT Hart Trophy voting

hart ovechkin

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 16: Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals shoot the puck against the Vancouver Canucks during the second period at Capital One Arena on January 16, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

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The NHL All-Star break is here and what better time to look back at the first half-plus of the 2021-22 season with some awards talk. Over the next few days we’ll reveal our top three for the league’s major awards.

First up, the Hart Trophy, which is awarded to the “player judged most valuable to his team.” This award is voted own annually by the Professional Hockey Writers Association.

TOTAL BALLOTS (Points allocation: 10-7-5 for 1st-2nd-3rd)

1. Alex Ovechkin, Capitals - 40 (40-0-0)
2. Igor Shesterkin, Rangers - 22 (10-7-5)
3. Jonathan Huberdeau, Panthers - 17 (0-14-5)
Mikko Rantanen, Avalanche - 7 (0-7-0)
Nazem Kadri, Avalanche - 7 (0-7-0)
Cale Makar, Avalanche - 5 (0-0-5)
Johnny Gaudreau, Flames - 5 (0-0-5)

James O’Brien, NHL writer

1. Igor Shesterkin, Rangers

2. Mikko Rantanen, Avalanche

3. Connor McDavid, Oilers

Narrowing this field down to three is extremely difficult, including choosing Rantanen over Kadri, and McDavid over Draisaitl. (Ovechkin and Huberdeau are very much in the mix, too.) As far as goalies winning the Hart go, I try the K.I.S.S. method (Keep It Simple, Stupid). If a goalie is enjoying an overwhelmingly special year, then it’s appropriate -- but it’s got to really be something, and what Shesterkin is accomplishing for the Rangers is resounding. His numbers tower over those of other goalies, and even skaters (by Evolving Hockey’s WAR [heading into Monday], Shesterkin’s already worth 5.6; no other player or goalie’s earned more than Frederik Andersen’s 4.1).

Adam Gretz, NHL writer

1. Alex Ovechkin, Capitals

2. Igor Shesterkin, Rangers

3. Jonathan Huberdeau, Panthers

What Alex Ovechkin is doing at this age is nothing short of remarkable and remains completely age-defying. Given the injuries and goaltending issues the Capitals have dealt with this season, combined with his overall performance, I think he qualifies pretty much any MVP criteria you want to look at (best player, most valuable, etc.). Igor Shesterkin is right there with him, and quite honestly, I would not argue with you if you told me you thought Shesterkin could be in the top spot. If we are being honest a goalie should probably win the MVP award every year if you want to play the “value” card. At the very least they should always be in the discussion.

Jake Abrahams, Managing Editor, NHL content

1. Alex Ovechkin, Capitals
2. Jonathan Huberdeau, Panthers
3. Cale Makar, Avalanche

What Alex Ovechkin is doing at age 36 is unprecedented. He has a shot to win the Rocket Richard and the Art Ross, which hasn’t been done since 2007-08 when, you guessed it, Ovi did it. I’ve listed Huberdeau and Makar as 2-3, but a few others could fit there too. The fact is, right now I’m not sure this race is really that close. There is lots of hockey left (and time for Connor McDavid to re-enter this chat), but in my book Ovi has a sizeable lead in the Hart race at the halfway point.

Sean Leahy, NHL writer

1. Alex Ovechkin, Capitals
2. Jonathan Huberdeau, Panthers
3. Johnny Gaudreau, Flames

Ovechkin will just not slow done, and it’s wonderful for all of us. He’s marching towards his 10th Rocket Richard Trophy and he’s not relying on the power play to do all of his damage. No one has more even strength goals (21) or even strength points (44) than the Capitals captain and he’s currently tied for seventh in power play goals (7).

Michael Finewax, NBC Sports Edge Senior Hockey Writer/Editor

1. Alex Ovechkin, Capitals
2. Nazem Kadri, Avalanche
3. Igor Shesterkin, Rangers

Alex Ovechkin carried the Capitals in the first half of the season and despite some questionable goaltending, they have remained at or near the top of the Metropolitan all season. Until his last four games, Ovechkin has been a stud offensively and has been the best player in the NHL. Kadri and Shesterkin have also been so valuable for their respective teams