Nathan MacKinnon, Connor McDavid and David Pastrnak are in a dead heat for the Hart Trophy. Photo via @NHL (Twitter).
- Connor McDavid, the frontrunner, won the Hart Trophy in 2016-17 while David Pastrnak and Nathan MacKinnon have never won
- Leon Draisaitl, who is somehow outside the top-10 in Hart Trophy odds, leads the league with 83 points
- It’s been more than 30 years since a player on a non-playoff team won the Hart Trophy
As the NHL season reaches its final two months, the top-heavy Hart Trophy race appears to essentially be a three-headed monster of forwards: Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid, Colorado Avalanche’s Nathan MacKinnon and Boston Bruins’ David Pastrnak.
Others will try to catch them, but time is running out. And now, it’s time to decide who makes for the best bet.
Here’s a look at the 2020 Hart Trophy odds:
2020 Hart Trophy odds
|Player||Team||Odds at Bovada|
|Connor McDavid||Edmonton Oilers||+125|
|Nathan MacKinnon||Colorado Avalanche||+200|
|David Pastrnak||Boston Bruins||+400|
|Brad Marchand||Boston Bruins||+800|
|Alex Ovechkin||Washington Capitals||+1600|
|Evgeni Malkin||Pittsburgh Penguins||+1600|
|Auston Matthews||Toronto Maple Leafs||+1800|
|Artemi Panarin||New York Rangers||+3300|
|Patrick Kane||Chicago Blackhawks||+3300|
|Mark Scheifele||Winnipeg Jets||+5000|
Odds taken Feb. 4
Amazingly, McDavid’s stellar teammate in Edmonton, Leon Draisaitl, isn’t listed despite leading the NHL with 83 points. So for now, it’s a three-horse race. Let’s take a closer look.
Here’s how the three frontrunners stack up, statistically: McDavid has 29 goals and 79 points in 52 games; MacKinnon has 30 goals and 72 points in 50 games; and Pastrnak has 38 goals and 75 points in 53 games.
— NHL (@NHL) February 2, 2020
What sticks out? McDavid has the most points (second in the NHL only behind Draisaitl), while Pastrnak has the most goals (he leads the NHL in this category, with Ovechkin right behind at 37).
MacKinnon has the fewest points in the fewest games, but he also has taken more shots and fewer penalties than his competitors.
2020 NHL Divisional Odds Tracker
Here’s where MacKinnon probably has his best argument.
Pastrnak plays on a line with Marchand (+800 odds to win the Hart), while McDavid is on the same team as the aforementioned Draisaitl (they’ve played on the same line this season but aren’t doing so right now).
The Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak line continues to torment Buffalo.
Pastrnak's 29th goal of the season gives Boston a 1-0 lead. pic.twitter.com/MYsm5q3ucD
— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) December 30, 2019
Pastrnak only has seven more points than Marchand, while McDavid actually has four fewer points than Draisaitl.
MacKinnon, meanwhile, doesn’t have any teammates that are nearly that noteworthy. Due to some early-season injuries for the Avalanche, MacKinnon has had to shoulder the load scoring-wise. He has 35 points more than the next highest scorer, which is rookie defenseman Cale Makar.
Nathan MacKinnon wins it in OT. Ridiculous. pic.twitter.com/tZq3dx6Fju
— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) November 17, 2019
Each of past five skaters to win Hart Trophy finished more than 20 points clear of the second-highest scorer on their respective team. So that’s a big plus for MacKinnon.
No Playoffs, Big Problem
In the Hart voting, playoffs are important. Whether or not team results should factor into an individual award is a debate for another time — but the fact is, it means something in this case.
The last player to win the Hart on a non-playoff team was Mario Lemieux, back in 1987-88.
There’s no evidence it will happen again. In a race this tight, if one of these players misses the playoffs (or, somehow, if only one makes the playoffs), that would be bear weight.
— dom luszczyszyn (@domluszczyszyn) January 30, 2020
Right now, Boston, Edmonton and Colorado are all in playoff position. Boston is essentially a lock for the postseason, but the other two — especially Edmonton — are on thinner ice.
Assuming all three players reach the playoffs with their respective teams, this award sort of looks like MacKinnon’s to lose. Yes, he has the fewest points of the three, but four of the NHL’s past nine scoring leaders failed to win the Hart — so does that really matter?
Stop us if you’ve heard this before…
— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) October 19, 2019
MacKinnon has stood out on a team that has offered limited support. Fair or not, McDavid and Pastrnak have better supporting casts that will likely hinder their chances that this award.
Pick: Nathan MacKinnon, +200
Jordan Horrobin is a sports journalist whose MLB, NHL, NFL and NCAA work has appeared in outlets such as The Athletic, MLB.com, the Detroit Free Press and more. He is currently based in Toronto, also working as a contributor for Forbes.com and a freelance editor for Sportsnet.