In the lead-up to the 2023 NHL Awards in Nashville on June 26, we here at The Oil Rig have put together our own version of the program. We voted on each of the awards, the Jack Adams Award, Lady Byng Trophy, Selke Trophy, Norris Trophy, Vezina Trophy, Calder Trophy, and Hart Trophy, to give out our own accolades.
The Hart Memorial Trophy is awarded to the player voted as most valuable and important to his team’s success during the regular season. With a wide variety of players making strong cases this season, will the voting be close? Especially as some teams have multiple candidates who could receive votes.
That was not the case for The Oil Rig members, as our Hart Trophy winner takes it home with a unanimous first place sweep.
The winner of The Oil Rig’s 2023 Hart Trophy is…
Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers
We promise there is no bias here, being an Edmonton Oilers-centric site. Connor McDavid carried this Oilers team all season as he put up offensive numbers not seen since the likes of Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr in the mid 90s.
With a career high 64 goals, McDavid captured his first Rocket Richard Trophy. And with 153 points, he wins his fifth Art Ross Trophy by a 25 point margin over teammate Leon Draisaitl.
McDavid was a factor in nearly every single game of the season. He was held pointless in just seven contests, while recording four or more points 10 times.
He was a key member of the best power play in NHL history, while recording 71 points with the man advantage over the season.
It is hard to not give McDavid this award after how dominant he was in the 2022–23 season. And with his performances thus far in his career, he is beginning to make a case to be considered an all-time great.
Matthew Tkachuk, Florida Panthers
The Florida Panthers struggled through most of the season, but a late push got them just into a playoff spot where some magic happened. Even before that, the impact of Matthew Tkachuk was noticed. For years, he has been known as one of, if not the best, player in the league at managing the momentum and energy within a game. And the past couple of seasons since his offensive game has broken out, he has been a major contributor on the scoresheet as well.
A second straight 40-goal season and a team leading 109 points has Tkachuk showing why he is so important to the Panthers’ success.
David Pastrnak, Boston Bruins
It’s hard to pinpoint individual players on a team that was as good as the Boston Bruins were this past season, but David Pastrnak definitely stands out. A career high 61 goals and 113 points had him head and shoulders above anyone else on the team. More than double Patrice Bergeron and Jake DeBrusk‘s 27 goals (tied for second on the team) and 46 more points than second place Brad Marchand.
Without Pastrnak playing as well as he did, the Bruins would not have been as dominant as they were.
Vote scoring: 1st Place = 10, 2nd place = 7, 3rd place = 5, 4th place = 3, 5th place = 1
The Oil Rig’s writer takes
Sean Laycock: There is no disputing the dominance and impact of McDavid this season, the award is his. But Linus Ullmark and Tkachuk, in my view, were the most important players on their respective teams. Even though the San Jose Sharks were not good, they would have somehow been significantly worse were it not for Erik Karlsson‘s dominance. And because of how well Ilya Sorokin fulfills what the New York Islanders need from their goalie, he gets some consideration from me as well.
Ray Boulette: Finally the Eastern Conference media has no excuse to give the Hart to somebody other than McDavid. If they’re going to have their bias then I’m going to be biased towards the West. Ullmark had an amazing season even though Boston plays a defensive system. How is Draisaitl not nominated but Tkachuk is?
Draisaitl, along with McDavid, only led the best power play ever and he finished second in the league with 128 points, 14 points ahead of Pastrnak. While Tkachuk finished seventh in scoring? Which is why I added Nathan MacKinnon who put up two more points in eight less games than Tkachuk.
Gregory Babinski: With McDavid doing so much, Draisaitl can be overlooked, I’m not making that mistake here. If Draisaitl were on any other team the accolades would be pouring in. With a career year, it is almost comical that Draisaitl has received such little consideration for the Hart.
Michelle Nguyen: It’s gotta be McDavid. He led the league in goals, assists, points and so many other metrics. If we’re simply talking numbers, Pastrnak was 40 points behind McDavid and Tkachuk was 44. Just give the man his third Hart already.