Pittsburgh Penguins\' Evgeni Malkin. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Gene J. Puskar
TORONTO - Hart Trophy finalists Jarome Iginla, Evgeni Malkin and Alexander Ovechkin will also be in the running for the Lester B. Pearson Award as the top player of the 2007-08 season, the NHL Players' Association announced Thursday.
Both awards recognize the league's best player, but are slightly different.
The Pearson Trophy, voted on by the players, goes to the league's "outstanding player." The Hart Trophy, voted on by hockey writers, goes to the player deemed "most valuable to his team."
Since the Pearson was first handed out in 1971, the players and writers have chosen different winners 13 times, most recently in 2006 when Joe Thornton won the Hart Trophy and Jaromir Jagr took the Pearson. Sidney Crosby won both awards last year.
Iginla won the Pearson in 2002, when the Hart Trophy went to goaltender Jose Theodore.
Iginla, the Calgary Flames captain, had his second career 50-goal season while adding 48 assists for 98 points.
Ovechkin was a finalist for the Pearson as a rookie in 2006. This season, he has already secured the Art Ross Trophy as the league's scoring leader with 112 points and the Maurice (Rocket) Richard Trophy as the top goal-scorer with 65. The 22-year-old is the first player with 60 or more goals in 12 years.
Malkin was second in scoring with 47 goals and 106 points, but led the league with 65 points after Jan. 1 and was key in keeping the Pittsburgh Penguins afloat while Crosby missed most of the second half with a high ankle sprain.
The winners will be announced at the NHL awards ceremony in Toronto on June 12.
The Pearson winner gets $20,000 to donate to the minor hockey programs of his choice while the two finalists get to give away $10,000 each.
The first Pearson winner in 1971 was Phil Esposito, while the Hart that year went to his Boston teammate Bobby Orr. Orr won the Hart again in 1972, but the Pearson went to Jean Ratelle.