A couple of the NHL’s annual trophies have already been won with Patrick Kane winning the Art Ross as the league’s leading scorer. The Anaheim Ducks’ goaltending duo of Frederik Anderson and John Gibson picked up the Jennings Trophy for allowing the fewest number of goals in the regular season. Other trophies, like the Calder, Norris and Vezina are still to come but the biggest prize remaining is the Hart Memorial Trophy which is voted on by NHL writers and Jaromir Jagr should win it.
The Hart Memorial Trophy is an annual award given to the player judged to be the most valuable to his team. The winner is selected in a poll of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association in all NHL cities at the end of the regular season.
Can Jagr Win the Hart?
The problem for many players plying their trade in non-traditional markets is that they don’t receive the attention paid to their counterparts in the big media centres like New York, Toronto and Montreal. But you can make a compelling case that Jagr should be in the Hart conversation.
Jagr led the Florida Panthers in scoring with 27 goals, 66 points and an eye-popping +23. That was good enough to rank him in a tie for 21st overall in the league, in the neighbourhood of players like Steven Stamkos, Taylor Hall and Nikita Kucherov.
While those raw scoring numbers certainly flatter a 44-year-old, drilling down a little deeper into the data shows something even more impressive.
Jagr Best at Even Strength
The toughest thing to do in hockey in produce points at even strength. While some players like Alex Ovechkin pad their stats on the power play, being able to score at evens is a much better way to judge the value of a player since the majority of the game is played in that state. That said, here are the top 5V5/60 performers in the NHL in the 2015-15 season from stats.hockeyanalysis.com
- Jaromir Jagr 2.70
- Connor McDavid 2.69
- Patrick Kane 2.62
- Evgeny Kuznetsov 2.54
- Sidney Crosby 2.53
- Mark Scheifele 2.51
- Blake Wheeler 2.50
- Mike Cammalleri 2.45
- Joe Thornton 2.41
- Andreas Athanasiou 2.38
***Worth noting for Panthers’ fans is that Jonathan Huberdeau narrowly missed the top 10, finishing 13th at 2.31***
Jagr’s ability to score at evens bodes very well for the Cats heading into the playoffs when the officials tend to put away their whistles and the number of power play opportunities drops. That doesn’t matter to the Hart Trophy voting since it is based only on the regular season which should give Jagr a bump.
Can Jagr Win It?
That’s a very hard question to answer since we don’t know what the hockey media are thinking but one of the most influential hockey writers in the league, Larry Brooks, says Jagr is unquestionably the league MVP.
Value is in the eye of the beholder and voter. Remember: The Hart does not necessarily go to the league’s best player, but rather “the player adjudged to be the most valuable to his team.”
Judgement, of course, is rendered on a subjective basis, but go ahead, you tell me: What player in the NHL has been more valuable to his team than Jagr, who is having a Second Career Year and around whom the historically ineffectual Puddy Tats have coalesced to become one of the NHL’s emerging nations?
Jagr fans (and there are many all over the league) have to hope that other media members have been thinking like Brooks and have the ageless wonder on their ballots. I don’t have a vote but I know who would be on top of it.