Despite being a finalist for the Ted Lindsay Award — given to the NHL’s best player voted on by members of the NHL Players’ Association — Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane was left out of the three finalists for the Hart Memorial Trophy, which is awarded annually to the most valuable player by a vote from Professional Hockey Writers Association members.
That’s despite career-high numbers in points (110), assists (66), time on ice and points per game (1.36). Kane also scored the second-most goals in a season in his career with 44, behind just his 2015-16 season when he won the Hart Trophy and had 46 goals.
Kane was third in points this season behind Nikita Kucherov (128) and Connor McDavid (116), who were both finalists this season along with Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby. Both Kucherov and McDavid were supported by strong teammates, however — McDavid’s linemate, Leon Draisaitl, was fourth in points (105), and had the second-most goals (50) to Washington’s Alex Ovechkin (51). Kucherov had two teammates — Steven Stamkos and Brayden Point — in the top 15 in points.
Kane’s closest teammate in terms of scoring was Jonathan Toews, who tied for 26th in the league with 81 points.
All this serves to make a case for Kane being one of the three finalists.
One major factor working against Kane, however, is the Blackhawks missed the Stanley Cup playoffs. Last year, there was a debate sparked about whether, if New Jersey’s Taylor Hall and Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon missed the playoffs with their respective teams, they should receive Hart votes. Both teams made it, but the Oilers, with McDavid, didn’t, and he fell out of the finalist contention because of it.
Since the 2004-05 lockout, only one (now two) player was a finalist for the Hart Trophy after their team missed the playoffs. That was in 2011-12 with Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos, who led the NHL in goals (60), winning the Rocket Richard by 10 goals.
Kane didn’t... do that. He didn’t have the most points in the league, and he came up seven goals short of the leader, Ovechkin, in goals.
McDavid being a finalist adds an element of doubt into why Kane wasn’t a finalist. Crosby and Kucherov both made the playoffs with their teams (they both got swept) but McDavid had more points this season than Kane, more time on ice, and never went more than two straight games without a point.
He also had a case for being a finalist last season. McDavid’s argument for being the best player in hockey supersedes Kane, with the qualification both missed the playoffs.
Still, the Ted Lindsay finalist position is a respectable reward for Kane’s season. His fellow players believed he was one of the three best players this season, and that’s a great thing. Hopefully, if and when Kane comes this close to the league lead in points again, the Blackhawks are in the postseason to seal the deal.