Though it was a forgettable exit for Connor McDavid in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Edmonton Oilers captain’s season deserves to be remembered among the greatest in history. Now he has an important touchstone to assist in establishing that.
McDavid unanimously won his second career Hart Trophy as the league’s Most Valuable Player at the NHL’s mini awards celebration on Tuesday night. He beat out finalists Nathan MacKinnon and Auston Matthews with 100 first-place votes, becoming just the second winner ever to lead all submitted ballots.
Wayne Gretzky had been the only unanimous Most Valuable Player in league history prior to this, accomplishing the feat in 1981-82.
Scoring 33 goals and registering 72 assists to eclipse the 100-point mark in the league’s abbreviated 56-game season, McDavid finished with 105 points, or his third-highest career point total in a season trimmed down by nearly two thirds.
His 1.88 points per game is one of the greatest per-game production rates in history, and the greatest in the cap era. It’s been a quarter century since an NHL player has been more productive on a game-to-game basis, with Mario Lemieux averaging 2.3 points an outing in 1995-96.
McDavid won the scoring title by 21 points over his Oilers teammate and last season’s Hart Trophy winner, Leon Draisaitl, while the next-closest competitor, Brad Marchand, finished 36 points behind. Only Matthews finished the season with more goals, while McDavid paced all skaters with 68 even-strength points.
McDavid also posted career-best defensive numbers for the second-best regular-season team in the North Division, trimming down both his goals against and expected goals against to a significant degree.
Edmonton now boasts consecutive Hart Trophy winners and three of the last five MVP honours after Draisaitl was recognized last season and McDavid claimed his first back in 2017.
McDavid also won his third Ted Lindsay Award as the league’s top player as voted on by the NHLPA membership, defeating Matthews and Sidney Crosby in the vote.
Fleury wins his first Vezina
In something of a surprise, Vegas Golden Knights netminder — and legend — Marc-Andre Fleury, 36, won his first ever Vezina Trophy in his 17th season in the NHL. He was a co-recipient of the William M. Jennings Trophy, keeping the lowest goals-against average with teammate Robin Lehner, while helping Vegas achieve the second-best record in the NHL.
Fleury finished with the fourth-best five-on-five save percentage and goals saved above average, according to Natural Stat Trick, and his six shutouts were just one fewer than league leaders Philipp Grubauer (a nominee for the award) and Semyon Varlamov.
In the vote tabulated by the general managers, Fleury narrowly edged Andrei Vasilevskiy with 14 first-place votes compared to the Tampa Bay Lightning star’s 12.
Fox captures the Norris
Adam Fox claimed arguably the most hotly-debated award, beating out nominees Cale Makar and Victor Hedman as the league’s top defenseman.
Fox led all rearguards in scoring in his second season, scoring five goals and finishing with 47 points in 55 games, while averaging over 24 minutes per game.
He’s the fourth Rangers defenseman in history to win the award and first since Brian Leetch in 1997.
Kaprizov named rookie of the year
The Minnesota Wild’s burgeoning superstar — and the player that’s made a franchise incredibly fun — has his first major award in the bag.
Kirill Kaprizov captured the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie with 99 out of 100 first-place votes. He beat out finalists Jason Robertson and Alex Nedeljkovic of the Dallas Stars and Carolina Hurricanes, respectively. It was Robertson who received the other first-place vote.
Kaprizov, 24, finished eighth in the Rocket Richard race, scoring 27 goals. He added 24 assists to win the rookie scoring race by six points over Robertson. His 51 points were enough to finish in the top 25 in league scoring.
He’s the first Calder Trophy winner in Wild history.
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