So who is the league's Most Valuable Player?
It's a tough award, because it usually is given to the best player.
Your finalists are:
Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh
How's that 2010 Russian Olympic Team looking, eh?
Here's the press release
NEW YORK (April 29, 2009) - Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk, Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin and Washington's Alex Ovechkin are the three finalists for the 2008-09 Hart Memorial Trophy, which is awarded "to the player who is adjudged to be the most valuable to his team," the National Hockey League announced today.
Ovechkin was the overwhelming winner of the 2007-08 Hart Memorial Trophy, receiving 128 of 134 first-place votes. Malkin was the runner-up. Datsyuk joins them this season to mark the first time in the 85-season history of the award that all three finalists are Russians.
Members of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association submitted ballots for the Hart Memorial Trophy at the conclusion of the regular season, with the top three vote-getters designated as finalists. The winner will be announced Thursday, June 18, during the 2009 NHL Awards that will be broadcast live from the Pearl Concert Theater inside the Palms Hotel Las Vegas on VERSUS in the United States and on CBC in Canada.
Following are the finalists for the Hart Memorial Trophy, in alphabetical order:
Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings
Though this is the first time Datsyuk has been voted a Hart Trophy finalist, he last season won two major trophies (Selke and Lady Byng) and this season has been voted a finalist for all three awards. No player has won the Hart, Selke and Byng Trophies in the same season. Datsyuk finished fourth in the league scoring race this season, matching his career-high with 97 points while scoring a personal-best 32 goals. He ranked second among NHL players in takeaways with 89, placed third in plus-minus with a +34 rating, and won 56% of the 1,135 face-offs he took.
Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins
Malkin followed up his break-out 2007-08 season with a dazzling 2008-09 that saw him lead the League in points (career-high 113) and assists (78) while playing in all 82 games for the second straight year. He also led the league with 94 takeaways. Malkin had four four-point games and one five-point game and recorded a career-best 13-game assists streak from Oct. 16 through Nov. 15. His scoring title, which will be rewarded with the Art Ross Trophy, was the 13th in the last 21 seasons won by a Pittsburgh player.
Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals
Ovechkin is vying to become the first repeat winner of the Hart Trophy since Dominik Hasek of Buffalo won in 1997 and 1998. Ovechkin won the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy for the second straight season for again leading the League with 56 goals - the fourth time in his five NHL seasons that he's eclipsed 50 goals. He finished three points shy of becoming the NHL's first repeat scoring titlist since Jaromir Jagr in 2000 and 2001. Ovechkin's 528 shots on goal were the second highest single-season total in NHL history behind Phil Esposito's 550 in 1970-71. His 19 power-play goals ranked second in the League and his 10 game-winning goals ranked third.
The current Hart Memorial Trophy was presented to the National Hockey League in 1960, after the original trophy was retired to the Hockey Hall of Fame. The original Hart Trophy was donated to the NHL in 1923 by Dr. David A. Hart, father of Cecil Hart, former manager-coach of the Montreal Canadiens.
The NHL will announce the three finalists for each of its awards daily. The remaining announcement schedule:
Thur., Apr. 30: Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy (perseverance and dedication to hockey) Fri., May 1 Jack Adams Award (Coach of the Year) Mon., May 4 NHL Foundation Player Award (contributions to charitable causes)
Previously Announced Trophy Finalists
Calder Trophy (outstanding rookie): Steve Mason, Columbus Blue Jackets Bobby Ryan, Anaheim Ducks Kris Versteeg, Chicago Blackhawks
Norris Trophy (outstanding defenseman): Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins Mike Green, Washington Capitals Nicklas Lidstrom, Detroit Red Wings
Lady Byng Trophy (skill, sportsmanship): Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings Zach Parise, New Jersey Devils Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay Lightning
Vezina Trophy (outstanding goaltender) Niklas Backstrom, Minnesota Wild Steve Mason, Columbus Blue Jackets Tim Thomas, Boston Bruins
Frank J. Selke Trophy (top defensive forward): Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings Ryan Kesler, Vancouver Canucks Mike Richards, Philadelphia Flyers