Nathan MacKinnon’s rebound season following three down years after winning the Calder Trophy his rookie season was not enough to earn the Hart Memorial Trophy.
Despite ranking second in the league in points per game and pioneering the Avalanche’s 47-point turnaround in the 2017-18 season, MacKinnon was edged by Taylor Hall for the league’s MVP. Hall beat out MacKinnon by just 70 total points while Anze Kopitar finished third.
Hall received the award after leading the New Jersey Devils to their first postseason since losing the Stanley Cup in 2011-12. Hall’s 93 points bested the Devils’ second-best scorer by 41 points, the biggest gap between a team’s top two scorers in the NHL.
Hall played remarkably well in the latter portion of the season, recording a 26-game point scoring streak and netting eight goals in the last nine games of the regular season to secure a playoff berth.
As for MacKinnon, the 22-year-old’s resurgence this season went hand-in-hand with one of the most significant single-season turnarounds in NHL history. MacKinnon scored 39 goals and assisted on 58 more for a total of 97 points even though he missed eight games with a shoulder injury. His 1.31 points per game ranked second only behind Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers (1.32).
All the more important, MacKinnon did this while taking the last-place Avalanche to its first playoff appearance since his rookie season. Even though he played in all 82 games in 2016-17, MacKinnon notched only 53 points. He more than doubled his point per game average this season as the team nearly doubled its point total, as well.
Hart Trophy voting breakdown (voted on by PHWA) pic.twitter.com/YHfjiBzr3d
— Sean Leahy (@Sean_Leahy) June 21, 2018
MacKinnon tied for the league-lead in game-winning goals with 12, pacing both finalists by wide margins. MacKinnon’s impact for the Avalanche was evident through his eight-game absence during which the team’s offensive statistics dropped off significantly.
Though he recorded just one goal and five points through the first 10 games of the season, MacKinnon found his groove shortly thereafter. The former No. 1 overall pick logged two five-point games, nine two-goal games and scored a goal and an assist in the team’s playoff-clinching victory against the St. Louis Blues in the regular season finale.