This year more than ever, the race for the Hart Trophy is wide open. All week, the NHL writing staff at Full Press Coverage will Make the Case for each of the top contenders. Next up: Nathan MacKinnon.
The Colorado Avalanche are in a playoff hunt, and they have one person, in particular, to thank, one guy who has carried his team to mile high heights. Today I will be making the case for him to win the Hart Trophy.
A Little Context
In order to justify his candidacy, I feel like I should first need to bring you back to last season where the Avalanche finished with a 22-56-4 record; which was good for just 48 points. And that was well short of a playoff spot.
With that said the expectations for the Avalanche this season were pretty low. All that had to do was pretty much show improvement. And that was not a hard thing to do considering the historically bad season they just had.
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Corolado had a subpar start to the season so General Manager Joe Sakic decided to shake it up. The Avalanche traded one of their core pieces, Matt Duchene, to the Ottawa Senators as part of a three-team trade that also included Nashville. In the trade, Colorado received four players including Samuel Girard and three draft picks.
This deal to me signaled that Colorado was in a rebuild.
But then a funny thing happened. Nathan MacKinnon took the team on his back and he has led them into position to possibly make the playoffs.
The Post Duchene Era
The post-Duchene era is where Nathan MacKinnon has taken the league by storm. Since the trade on November 5th, MacKinnon has 34 goals and 46 assists which is good for 80 points in 57 games.
MacKinnon’s leadership has lead Colorado to a 34-22-8 record since the trade. And that has Colorado in the playoff race heading into the final week of the season. The Avalanche will most likely double their point output from last season. As of this writing, they have 93 points with two games left.
You see, MacKinnon has not only put up numbers that have him in the top 5 in the league in points. Oh no, that is just the start. MacKinnon has his team fighting for a playoff spot. A situation that no one in their right minds saw coming.
Making A Case For the Hart Trophy
And while the Avalanche are not a lock to make the playoffs, that is no fault of MacKinnon. He had 22 points in 15 games in the month of March in an effort to get his team in the playoffs. His efforts helped the Avs to an 8-4-3 record in the month of March. And it is the reason they are looking to get into one of the two remaining wild card slots.
When it comes to the Hart trophy, one of the things that MacKinnon may have working against him is if his team misses the playoffs. Traditionally the MVP award is awarded to a player who leads his team to the playoffs. Obviously, this would greatly affect his chances of winning the award.
One of the things working in MacKinnon’s favor is that the Avs were so bad last season. This turnaround is just simply breathtaking by any standard. To go from 48 points to have a chance to get twice that amount is pretty amazing.
So therefore even if the Avs do not make it to the playoffs I still say Nathan MacKinnon should get the award. He has been the best player by far on the Avs and he is the reason the Avalanche are where they are.
And if we go by the true meaning of the MVP, MacKinnon is a clear-cut favorite. He is a by far and away the best player on his team this season. MacKinnon may end up getting snubbed of the award because of the lack of a playoff entry. But that is not his fault. He did his job and he is a big reason they are even battling for a playoff spot.
To me it is clear, Nathan McKinnon should be the NHL MVP.