Hart Trophy

Claude Giroux's final Hart Trophy voting unveiled — and it should hurt

Claude Giroux's final Hart Trophy voting unveiled — and it should hurt

When the Hart Memorial Trophy finalists were unveiled in late April and Claude Giroux's name was nowhere to be found, there was noticeable outrage across the Delaware Valley — and understandably so.

Giroux, in his age 30 season, tied for the league lead in assists at 68 and finished second in points with 102, behind only Connor McDavid (108). He also recorded a better plus/minus at plus-28 than the three finalists — Anze Kopitar (plus-21), Taylor Hall (plus-14) and Nathan MacKinnon (plus-11).

Not only that, Giroux also emphatically rebounded from one of his worst seasons as a pro with career bests across the board — again, at age 30.

2016-17: 82 games, 14 goals, 44 assists, 58 points, minus-15

2017-18: 82 games, 34 goals, 68 assists, 102 points, plus-28

So when Giroux was not voted a Hart Trophy finalist, it led to the burning and lingering question of how ridiculous was the omission?

Giroux was already considered snubbed, but imagine if the Flyers' captain finished outside, say, the top five or six of the final voting? All hell would have broken loose in Philadelphia.

Turns out, Giroux did get some respect, finishing fourth in the final tally, which was released Wednesday night at the NHL Awards in Las Vegas, where Hall won the Hart Trophy.

At least Giroux received his share of love, but in a way, it stings even more for his supporters given the fact he fell only five points shy of being a finalist.

Nonetheless, Giroux's 2017-18 season will never be forgotten, hardware or not. He punctuated the first 100-point campaign in Flyers history since Eric Lindros in 1995-96 by delivering a hat trick in Game 82 of the regular season to clinch the Flyers a playoff berth at the Wells Fargo Center.

Fans chanted MVP.

And that will have to do.

Other NHL Awards tidbits

• Shayne Gostisbehere finished 10th in the James Norris Memorial Trophy voting for best defenseman. Victor Hedman won the award.

• Ron Hextall came in eighth for General Manager of the Year while also notching a first-place vote. Dave Hakstol slotted in at 14th for the Jack Adams Award (NHL Coach of the Year). The Golden Knights swept the categories with GM George McPhee and head coach Gerard Gallant taking home the honors.

More on the Flyers

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Simmonds narrowly misses out on Flyers history

Why Claude Giroux should've been a Hart Trophy finalist

USA Today Images

Why Claude Giroux should've been a Hart Trophy finalist

Claude Giroux will not be attending the NHL Awards Show in Las Vegas on June 20. 

But he should be.

The Flyers' captain was not a finalist for the Ted Lindsay Award as the “most outstanding player in the regular season” as determined by members of the NHL Players Association. Nor was he chosen as one of three finalists for the Hart Trophy awarded to the “player judged most valuable to his team” voted on by members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association.

Flyers Nation can only be left wondering why Giroux was overlooked by those who play the sport and those who cover it yet again after Taylor Hall, Anze Kopitar and Nathan McKinnon were announced as Hart Trophy finalists Friday night.

In 2012, Giroux finished third in scoring behind Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin and Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos and was passed over for both major awards in favor of Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. 

This season, Giroux built a much stronger case for inclusion. He finished with 102 points, second to Edmonton’s Connor McDavid, and the highest point total of any player whose team qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

In a Hart Trophy race that was more jam-packed than the Manhattan rush hour subway, how do you differentiate between eight to 10 legitimate candidates?

In the case of MacKinnon (Avalanche), Hall (Devils), Kopitar (Kings) and Giroux (Flyers), all four of their teams secured a playoff spot over the final week of the regular season. Had the Avalanche failed to beat the Blues in Game 82, MacKinnon wouldn’t be on this list. Failing to reach the postseason tarnishes value. Otherwise, McDavid would be the runaway favorite.

Which is why the final 10 games of the regular season should be weighted more heavily, as a majority of teams were in playoff mode looking to secure a spot. Giroux’s 19 points were better than Hall (17), Kopitar (12) and MacKinnon (8). Giroux also went on a goal-scoring tear with eight goals — including a hat trick in the season finale — in those final 10 games compared to just one for MacKinnon.  

However, Giroux’s value and importance even extended over the entire 82-game schedule, as he played a role in 41.3% of the goals the Flyers scored — better than Kopitar (39.5), Hall (39.1) and even MacKinnon (38.3) in this category.

There's an argument to be made that if the Devils didn’t have Hall, who was 41 points better than Jersey’s second-leading scorer, Nico Hischier, they’re nowhere near a playoff team. As valid as that point may be, you can also take a much different view through the Hart Trophy prism.

Which of the aforementioned players elevated the performance of their linemates/teammates? Who made the players around him better? In the case of MacKinnon, there was Mikko Rantanen, who went from 38 points a season ago to 84. Kopitar helped bring Dustin Brown’s game back to life with a career-high 61 points in L.A., and even Nikita Kucherov can be credited for Steven Stamkos’ comeback year.

Which is why Giroux’s move to left wing is that much more valuable. The captain helped catapult Sean Couturier and elevate him into the role as a No. 1 center. Couturier jumped from 34 points in 2016-17 to 76 points this season, and he simply doesn’t have his breakout season without playing all 82 games with Giroux on the same line.

If that’s not all-Hart worthy, it’s hard to quantify exactly what is.

How I would have voted 
1. Claude Giroux
2. Nathan MacKinnon
3. Anze Kopitar
4. Nikita Kucherov
5. Taylor Hall
6. Evgeni Malkin