Hart Trophy odds update: Ovechkin closing in on McDavid
Almost exactly halfway through the season, the race for the Hart Trophy is wide open.
Four players have at least 25 goals (none have more than 29), six have 50 points or more, and we're seeing one of the best goaltending seasons in a while.
This race could go in a wide array of different directions, so let's break things down.
|PLAYER||ODDS (Jan. 24)||ODDS (Oct. 8)|
Alex Ovechkin (+350)
Nobody's stock has risen to the same extent as Ovechkin - and for good reason. The 36-year-old continues to elude Father Time, putting together one of his best seasons in a decade and jointly leading the league in goals and points. He has the Washington Capitals 11th in points percentage despite the team's overwhelming number of key absences to injury and COVID-19 throughout the season. Ovechkin's on pace for 113 points and perhaps some hardware to go with it. Should he finish anywhere close to those totals and bring the Capitals near the top of the league, he'll get more than a fair share of votes.
Jonathan Huberdeau (+700)
The Florida Panthers were everyone's favorite "sleeper" contender heading into the season, but I don't think anybody expected this. The Panthers are tied for first in wins and have scored more goals than any other team. Their depth has overwhelmed a lot of opponents but make no mistake: The stars are driving the bus. Perhaps none more so than Huberdeau, who averages an assist per game - yes, you read that correctly - and leads the powerhouse Florida in points by 21. He plays for a fantastic, star-studded team and is still lapping the field.
Igor Shesterkin (+2000), Jack Campbell (+3000)
It's very rare for a goaltender to win the Hart Trophy. In fact, only two have done so since Dominik Hasek in 1997-98. While that's unlikely to change this year, Shesterkin (+2000) and - to a lesser extent - Campbell (+3000) make it impossible to rule out. Shesterkin owns a sparkling 19-4-2 record and .936 save percentage for the surprising New York Rangers. They rank 22nd in expected goal share yet have continued to pile up wins on the back of Shesterkin's performances. Campbell hit a bit of a rut lately, but his numbers remain remarkably impressive. He's 19-6-3 on the season and has managed a .927 save percentage. Should these guys continue on their current paths, the position will get more consideration for a Hart Trophy than we generally see.
Artemi Panarin (+4000)
It feels strange for a team exceeding expectations to have their best offensive player - who leads the roster in points per game - essentially fall out of contention for hardware. But that's the situation we're looking at here and it's easy to understand why: Panarin is on pace for just over 20 goals and is tied for 14th in points. Shesterkin is very clearly the Rangers' most important player. If the team sustains this kind of win pace, it's impossible to argue that Panarin is the best player on his own team - let alone NHL-wide.
Mitch Marner (+5000)
You can scratch Marner off the list entirely. He missed time with injury and isn't even averaging a point per game. Don't get me wrong, Marner is an awesome player. But Auston Matthews, William Nylander, John Tavares, Campbell, and, heck, even Morgan Rielly have probably played a larger role in the Maple Leafs' success this season.
David Pastrnak (+5000)
Pastrnak started the season in such miserable fashion that he took himself completely out of the conversation. Don't believe me? The Czech-born sniper has 13 points (10 goals) over his last eight games yet still finds himself averaging below a point per game and ranked 47th in points. Simply put, contending for the Hart this season is too big of a hill to climb.
Todd Cordell is a sports betting writer at theScore. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @ToddCordell.
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