The Hart Memorial Trophy is often misrepresented. A lot of people think that the trophy should go to the best player in the league, and it often does go to the best player in the league. But that's actually not what the Hart is all about. The Hart is supposed to go to the player that is judged to be most valuable to his respective team. It's not for who had the "best season". The Art Ross Trophy is for the player that had the best season, and there's nothing to judge because it's based on who had the most points. Let's get down to the three players that need to be considered.
Pittsburgh Penguins captain, Sidney Crosby, has received far less attention this season than he's used to. He was left off the NHL All-Star roster due his slow start to the season. The Pens also struggled while Crosby was struggling. However, Crosby has picked up his play.
Since November 19th, no one has more points than Crosby. He's had 67 points since then and has been driving the bus for his team. Points don't mean much, though, unless it's accompanied with team success, and that's exactly what Crosby's production has done. The Pens have climbed the standings, thanks to Crosby's resurgence. He makes everyone around him better, and he can take over a game at any time. He's out to show Connor McDavid that there's still competition for the face of the NHL.
Not to mention that the Pens have been without Evgeni Malkin, leaving more of the burden on Crosby. He's handled it better than anyone and could be on his way to his third Hart Trophy.
Jumbo Joe Thornton of the San Jose Sharks is back on the map for the Hart Trophy like it's 2006. That's the year that Jumbo won the Hart for his remarkable 125 point campaign during the season he was shipped from Boston to San Jose. Some people won't consider Thornton for the Hart, but there is no player in the league that is more valuable to their team's success than Jumbo. There is no player in the league that makes his teammates better like Jumbo. There is also no player in the league with a beard like Jumbo, but that's not something that gets judged for the Hart.
He's the best possession player on the Sharks and that's an accomplishment since the Sharks are a high possession team. He leads the team with a 56.52% Corsi-for in 5v5. There's one player in the league that is probably the biggest advocate of Thornton's MVP status and that is his linemate in Joe Pavelski. Pavelski is a great player on his own, but he's an amazing player when he's playing with Thornton. You take Thornton out of the Sharks lineup, and you'll get a horrendous product on the ice. Everything runs through Jumbo.
Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals is the best player on the best team in the NHL. He's also the only player in the league with over 40 goals currently and looks to be the only player who has the chance at cracking the 50 goal mark. He's their captain and is hands down the best goal scorer of the past decade. The league has seen a decrease in goal scoring, but Ovie didn't get the memo. At the end of the day, there's nothing more valuable to a hockey team than scoring goals. Ovie brings the goals better than anyone in the league and has been consistent throughout his entire career.
There's a lot of players that could win the Hart, and it would be silly to leave them out of the conversation. Here are the honorable mentions:
Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks
Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings
Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators
Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks
Braden Holtby, Washington Capitals