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Hart History: McDavid unanimous choice for MVP

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Edmonton Oilers star Connor McDavid won the Hart Trophy as NHL most valuable player, becoming only the second player in the 97-year history of the award to win it unanimously.

McDavid placed first on all 100 ballots from the Professional Hockey Writers Association. Previously, only Wayne Gretzky won the Hart unanimously back in 1981-82, also with the Oilers.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews earned 69 second-place votes and placed second in the voting to McDavid. Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon was third. McDavid also won the Ted Lindsay Award as the NHLPA’s most outstanding player. Matthews and Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby were the other finalists for the Lindsay.

McDavid led the NHL with 105 points in 56 games. His 1.88 points per game average was the 22nd best in NHL history and the highest since Mario Lemieux‘s 2.30 points per game average in 1995-96. McDavid led the NHL with 72 assists as well.

This was his second Hart Trophy and third Lindsay Award win, coupled with his third NHL scoring title. McDavid’s Hart Trophy win followed that of teammate Leon Draisaitl last season. The Oilers are the first team with different Hart Trophy winners in consecutive seasons since the Boston Bruins in 1968-69 (Phil Esposito) and 1969-70 (Bobby Orr).

In other awards voting, Vegas Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury won his first Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s top goalie. It was the first time Fleury had been nominated for the award after 17 seasons in the NHL with the Vegas Golden Knights and the Pittsburgh Penguins. He was named on 30 of the 31 ballots and received 14 first-place selections from the NHL’s general managers, who vote on this award.

Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, who was nominated for the award for four straight seasons and won the Vezina in 2019, finished second, just 10 points behind Fleury. Colorado Avalanche goalie Philipp Grubauer was third.

“Having a good team in front of me has always helped,” said Fleury, who shared the Jennings Trophy with Robin Lehner after Vegas allowed the fewest goals in the regular season. “But I just love the game. Have a lot of passion. I’m lucky to do what I like to do.”

New York Rangers defenseman Adam Fox captured the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best defenseman, finishing ahead of Cale Makar of the Colorado Avalanche and Victor Hedman of the Tampa Bay Lightning, who was nominated for the fifth year in a row. Fox was named on 99 of 100 ballots, including 40 first-place selections. Makar was the top choice of 31 voters.

Fox is the second defenseman in NHL history to win the Norris in his first or second NHL season, after Orr won for the Boston Bruins in 1967-68. This was Fox’s second NHL season, both with the Rangers. The 23-year-old Fox was first among defensemen in assists (42) and second in points (47).

Minnesota Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov bested Dallas Stars forward Jason Robertson and Carolina goalie Alex Nedeljkovic for rookie of the year honors. The Minnesota winger had 51 points in 55 games, including 27 goals.

There was a bit of controversy around his candidacy, as some bristled at his age (24) and six seasons playing in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League before joining the NHL. But that wasn’t reflected in the voting: Kaprizov was a near-unanimous winner, receiving 99 of 100 first-place votes and one second-choice selection. He earned the highest percentage of first-place votes in Calder balloting since 1992-93, when Winnipeg Jets forward Teemu Selanne was the top choice on all 50 ballots.

The NHL previously announced several awards prior to Tuesday’s telecast. Florida Panthers center Aleksander Barkov won the Selke Trophy as best defensive forward. Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin captured the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy for gentlemanly play. Rod Brind’Amour of the Carolina Hurricanes won the Jack Adams Award for coach of the year. Lou Lamoriello of the New York Islanders snagged the Jim Gregory General Manager of the Year Award for the second straight season.

Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron won the Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award, while Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne was given the King Clancy Trophy who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice. Philadelphia Flyers forward Oskar Lindblom was named the winner of the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy for perseverance and dedication to hockey.

The Professional Hockey Writers Association votes on the Hart, Norris, Calder, Selke and Lady Byng awards. Because the NHL realigned its teams and only played within its four divisions, the PHWA reduced its voting body to 100 members for the 2020-21 season: 20 voters for each division and 20 at-large voters.


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