It should come down to Leon Draisaitl and Artemi Panarin for the Hart Trophy

Writers have rushed to get their ballots in by the 5PM deadline today for the NHL awards. One particular award which will be of much interest to the Rangers faithful is the Hart Trophy. It is awarded every year to the NHL player deemed most valuable to his team. Two names under consideration have each been given high praise from fellow finalists. Both Artemi Panarin of the New York Rangers and Leon Draisaitl of the Edmonton Oilers are among the favorites to win the honor. They each have gotten a boost thanks to some big names openly backing them.

David Pastrnak votes for Leon Draisaitl

The majority of hockey experts believe that Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl will take home the Hart Trophy. Draisaitl put up 110 points and was the only player at the pause to break the century mark. Of course, the award is not all about points but importance to team. Draisaitl plays with Connor McDavid and while Panarin has talent like Mika Zibanejad around him, it’s undeniable that he was the MVP of the Rangers this season.

Today, Draisaitl just got a big boost to his candidacy when Boston Bruins forward, David Pastrnak stated Leon should win it hands down.

“For me, what Leon Draisaitl was showing up the whole season. A lot of people say, ‘Oh he’s playing with Connor’ and stuff. Connor was hurt for a month or two and he brought it up even another level up. For me it’s absolutely no question it’s going to be and it should be Leon Draisaitl because the way he played this year there is absolutely no question for me.”

Pastrnak via NESN
Artemi Panarin (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)

Nathan MacKinnon votes for Artemi Panarin

Artemi Panarin was the most sought after unrestricted free agent to hit the market in years. The entire league understood he was a game breaker and team maker. Before he signed with the New York Rangers, the Florida Panthers, New York Islanders, Columbus Blue Jackets and Colorado Avalanche were among the most mentioned teams in the hunt. This season, the Breadman propelled the Rangers into the playoffs with a staggering 95 points in 69 contests.

In a recent radio interview, Avs superstar, Nathan MacKinnon opened up on how he tried to lure Artemi Panarin to Colorado. It went so far as to even offering his spot on the PP. Aside from trying to recruit him to the Avalanche, Nathan feels Panarin should be the winner of the Hart Trophy.

“I knew he was a free agent so I was kind of watching him with Columbus. What an amazing player,” MacKinnon said. “And then I watched him all season – just from talking to him, really nice guy, so maybe I’m a little biased with that – but that’s why I think he should win the Hart this year.”

MacKinnon via the Score

Panarin for MVP

There is no doubt that not only are Panarin and Draisaitl worthy but so are MacKinnon and Pastrnak singing their praises. In my view, Leon Draisaitl has already won the Art Ross Trophy for scoring and he does play on a team with Connor McDavid. When it boils down to it, for those casting ballots, they will be hard pressed not to give it the free agent that dazzled Broadway. Let’s face it, without him the Rangers likely who have failed to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2016-2017.

*An earlier version of my story appeared on Sportsnaut.