John Tavares (Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)
The NHL announced Wednesday this year's finalists for the Hart Memorial Trophy as the league's most valuable player: Montreal's Carey Price, Islanders star John Tavares and Capitals sniper Alex Ovechkin. Although all three have enjoyed tremendous years, to one voter, at least, Price is the most deserving of the three.
The NHL announced Wednesday this year's finalists for the Hart Memorial Trophy as the league's most valuable player: Montreal Canadiens goaltending dynamo Carey Price, New York Islanders captain John Tavares, and Washington Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin. And although it could be a closer race than many believe, the sense among more than a few media members is that the award is likely to go to Price.
Although Tavares and Ovechkin have posted incredible seasons – the former set new career highs in goals (38) and points (86) with the Isles, while the latter posted at least 50 goals for the Caps for the sixth time in his 10-season NHL career, as well as 81 points in as many games – Price was magnificent in net for the Habs and dominant in a manner not often seen in the modern NHL goalie. The 27-year-old finished first in the league in wins (44), goals-against average (1.96) and save percentage (.933) – all of which were career bests – and amassed the second-most shutouts, with nine. Without Price between the pipes, the Habs may have made the playoffs, but they certainly wouldn't have finished first in the Atlantic Division. The Canadiens' defense corps isn't horrendous by any stretch, but their star goalie bailed them out on countless occasions and his nonexistent panic threshold is perfectly suited to a high-pressure market like Montreal.
Tavares and Price have yet to win the Hart, while Ovechkin would claim his fourth MVP award (he also won in 2008, 2009 and 2013) with a win this time around. Ovechkin and Tavares were certainly their teams' most valuable player, but the Habs leaned on Price to a degree the Islanders and Capitals did not. To this voter, at least, he was the NHL's most outstanding player and its most valuable. And if members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association who voted for the honor are in agreement, he'll win his first Hart.