Hart Trophy Power Rankings: McDavid's value can't be overstated
One rather obvious candidate leads the pack, while several other familiar faces have stated cases of their own as the Hart Trophy race has begun to take shape.
Here's an early look at the top candidates to be named the NHL's most valuable player this season.
ATOI = Average time on ice
SCF% = Percentage of scoring chances generated by the player's team with him on the ice at 5-on-5
CF% = Percentage of shot attempts generated by the player's team with him on the ice at 5-on-5
HDSV% = Save percentage on high-danger shots
GSAA = Goals saved above average (calculated by applying a goaltender's save percentage and total shots faced to the league average save percentage)
5. Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks
Corey Crawford's return has provided the Blackhawks with a measure of stability in the crease, but Kane's early-season exploits have been the biggest reason why the wheels haven't fully fallen off in Chicago.
He's tied for the league lead in goals, ranks first in even-strength markers (10), sits atop the NHL in shots on goal (64), and finds himself in the top five league-wide in the points race.
As long as the Blackhawks are in the mix for a playoff spot with Kane producing at this rate, he belongs in the Hart discussion.
4. John Gibson, Anaheim Ducks
Where would the Ducks be without Gibson? Only the Ottawa Senators have allowed more shots on goal per game, and yet Anaheim has the eighth-best goals-against average, thanks in large part to their No. 1 netminder.
The Ducks have only mustered 2.36 goals per game, the third-worst output in the NHL, and yet they're only two points out of the early playoff picture.
Gibson's goals saved above average mark leads the league, and his impact on Anaheim's fortunes is significant. Simply put, they'd be toast without him.
3. Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche
MacKinnon was the Hart runner-up last season, and he's picked up right where he left off, factoring in on three of Rantanen's five goals and 12 of Rantanen's 16 helpers.
He's also helped Gabriel Landeskog explode out of the gate, assisting on five of Landeskog's 11 goals.
2. Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins
The Russian sniper is piling up nearly two points per game so far, and while Crosby has been producing dependably as well, Malkin's been playing on another level.
He's the first Penguin to notch at least 20 points through the first 11 contests since Mario Lemieux did it in 2002-03, and Malkin is the biggest reason Pittsburgh sits atop the Metropolitan Division.
1. Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers
No skater arguably carries his club more than McDavid, who set an NHL record by factoring in on the Oilers' first nine goals of the season. Edmonton has 36 goals on the campaign, meaning the 21-year-old superstar has been involved in more than half of them.
McDavid also leads all NHL forwards in ice time, and he's tied for third in both goals and points as the Oilers occupy a playoff spot early on.
If he maintains this level of play while helping Edmonton get back into the postseason, he'll be the clear choice to hoist the Hart for the second time in three years.
(Analytics courtesy: Natural Stat Trick)