Rangers star snubbed in Hart Trophy voting after career-best season

The best player on the best NHL team is not a Hart Trophy finalist.

No, Artemi Panarin, who scored more than 17 percent of the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Rangers’ goals this season with 49, ranked fourth in the NHL with a career-best 120 points and served as a creative assassin on one of the most prolific lines around the league, did not even crack the top three players up for the prestigious award.

As voted by members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, the Lightning’s Nikita Kucherov, the Avalanche’s Nathan MacKinnon and the Oilers’ Connor McDavid were announced as Hart Trophy finalists on Tuesday by the NHL.

All are more than worthy of the honor, which is annually bestowed on the player who is “most valuable to his team,” but there is another award for the player with the most points at the end of the regular season.”

Artemi Panarin, pictured celebrating a goal, wasn't voted as a finalist for the Hart Trophy.
Artemi Panarin, pictured celebrating a goal, wasn’t voted as a finalist for the Hart Trophy.Charles Wenzelberg

Kucherov secured the Art Ross Trophy for the second time in his career when he finished with a staggering 144 points — the second-most points by a player over the past 28 years.

There’s no debating Kucherov’s value to the Lightning, who finished lower in the standings than they have since 2017 and were eliminated by the Panthers in five games in the first round.

McDavid, the reigning Hart winner, is a finalist for the sixth time in his nine-year NHL career after winning it three times already.

The Oilers’ star center is looking to become the fourth player with at least four Hart Trophies, joining Wayne Gretzky (nine-time winner), Gordie Howe (six-time winner) and Eddie Shore (four-time winner).

He would also be the first back-to-back winner since the Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin in 2008 and 2009.

MacKinnon is a finalist for the award for the fourth time in his 11-year career, after the 28-year-old finished third in voting in 2021, second in 2020 and second in 2018.

He would be the third player in Avalanche/Nordiques history to win, joining Peter Forsberg and Joe Sakic, who currently serves as Colorado’s president of hockey operations.

Artemi Panarin's 120 points during the regular season marked a career-best.

Artemi Panarin’s 120 points during the regular season marked a career-best.Jason Szenes for the NY Post

Peter Laviolette is the first head coach in NHL history to appear in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with six different franchises (Islanders, Hurricanes, Flyers, Predators, Capitals and Rangers).

His 154 games coached in the playoffs are the most among active NHL coaches and this current run is his 14th playoff year.

The Rangers are the fourth different team to capture the Presidents’ Trophy and subsequently win their first five games or more to start the postseason, joining the 1994 Rangers (7-0), the 1999 Stars (6-0) and the 2021 Avalanche (6-0).

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