Why Mitch Marner, Ilya Sorokin and Jack Hughes deserve Hart Trophy votes

While it’s clear that Connor McDavid is the unanimous number one pick for the Hart Trophy, Matt Larkin and Steven Ellis are looking around the league for other players who will find their names on Hart Trophy ballots.

Matt Larkins: Thinking about the Hart Trophy ballot, it’s been such a strange year because Connor McDavid locked it in so early that, for me, the discussion about who’s number two has almost become its own prize. This has been debated all year as there is no contest with McDavid. In this magic race number two MVP, who do you have up there at the top?

Steven Ellis: Well, I think we have to give a lot of credit to Linus Ullmark and what he did in Boston, but we’ve talked about him a lot on this show. Two guys I want to focus on specifically are Ilya Sorokin of the New York Islanders and Jack Hughes of the New Jersey Devils. You look at Sorokin, and the Islanders were at one point falling deep, and we were doing Connor Bedard updates every day on DailyFaceoff.com, and the Islanders were still putting themselves in a place where they could have have a solid puck in this draft. But, ever since they came out and made the trade for Bo Horvat, and even though Horvat hasn’t been as good as he was with Vancouver, it kind of seemed to send a message to this team. that this group is serious about turning things around and being very competitive. I think the fact that Sorokin was as good as he was was my pre-season pick to win the Vezina Trophy; I think the Islanders wouldn’t be where they’re currently chasing a playoff spot if it weren’t for Sorokin.

Steven Ellis: Then you watch Jack Hughes with the Devils. I think it was only a matter of time before he put it all together, we knew the talent was there and we saw how good he was with the US national team. I think two reasons it didn’t pan out right away were that he was smaller, he was adjusting his game, and he was struggling to stay healthy. Last year we saw some big moves from him, and it’s just when he’s able to turn it into something tangible and turn the Devils into who they really are. I think you look at the results this year and where the Devils are, and Hughes has been one of the greatest drivers on this team. I think they are two guys who really deserve to be loved, even if neither will win it, but Sorokin and Hughes are two guys who have done so much for their respective teams.

Matt Larkins: I like these choices. It’s funny; I was on the Tagus Thompson train for much of this year, but I pivoted. I won’t name the team, but I’ll give you some numbers first to avoid bias. This player is the seventh in league scoring, the first in takeouts, the fifth in time on the ice, the only player even close to the league’s top 50 scorers, but also the top 20 in minutes played shorthanded, first in the NHL in major assists by 60, is Mitch Marner. It’s funny; I almost think we’re getting to the point where it would be a stretch not to put him second on the ballot. Also, kudos to Matthew Tkachuk, who is 31 points ahead of his next teammate, so if Florida comes in, it’s shades of 2017-18 when Taylor Hall won the Hart Trophy with the Devils while he was fine. ahead of his teammates. So those are two other names I’m going to think about putting on my ballot.

You can watch the full episode here…

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