By: Nick Richter
The National Hockey League announced today the three finalists for the Hart Trophy as the league’s Most Valuable Player.
As expected, after scoring 50 goals for the first time in his career, Pittsburgh Penguin forward Evgeni Malkin was named as one of the three finalists. New York Ranger goaltender Henrik Lundqvist and Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos are the other two finalists.
Malkin is in the running for the Hart Trophy for the third time in the past five seasons. He had a league-best 109 points, which earned him his second Art Ross Trophy as NHL scoring champion. Malkin averaged 1.45 points per game during the 2011-12 season and carried the Penguins to a playoff spot while playing much of the season without captain Sidney Crosby.
Lundqvist and Stamkos are a bit of a surprise. Both players had career seasons. Lundqvist should walk away with the Vezina Trophy after being up for consideration for the Hart Trophy, but it is somewhat rare for a goalie to be up for both awards. Stamkos accounted for 25.5% of Tampa Bay’s goal total, but no player since the lockout has ever been nominated for the Hart Trophy without making the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The NHL Awards will take place in Las Vegas on June 20, 2012.