Voted for by the Professional Hockey Writers' Association the Hart Trophy is awarded to the NHL's most valuable player.
With the All-Star break in the rearview mirror and the NHL season approaching the home stretch, the MVP race is heating up.
We have seen some incredible performances and results so far from the league’s best players, as well as some surprising seasons from others.
Here is a list of some of the current favorites for this prestigious award.
Given that he is currently in the midst of a terrific campaign, it’s no surprise that Nathan MacKinnon recently became the favorite to win the 2023/24 Hart Trophy.
The Avalanche centre is right there with Connor McDavid as one of the most entertaining players to watch in hockey, with his high speed, physicality, and offensive skill.
MacKinnon played a major part in the Colorado Avalanche's 2022 Stanley Cup win, and he looks to be just as sharp this season.
The franchise cornerstone also leads the league in assists and is second in points, while also sitting at fifth in goals.
MacKinnon has been excellent for the majority of his career in the NHL, so it is still a surprise that he has yet to win this award at least once.
Nikita Kucherov is an interesting case study in the MVP race. The Tampa Bay Lightning winger has been lighting the league up for a long time, but his team currently sits in fourth place in the Atlantic Division and seventh overall in points in the Eastern Conference.
He's the best player on a team loaded with talent, and he's arguably the best winger in the NHL, yet it remains to be seen if voters will give him the benefit of the doubt given his team’s slot in the standings.
If Kucherov can take home the hardware, it would be his second Hart Trophy of his career. He is third in the league in goals, second in assists, and first in points on the season.
At this point, not much needs to be said about Connor McDavid.
The best player in the world has bounced back from a slow start in a big way in recent months, helping to carry a red-hot Edmonton Oilers team back into a playoff position.
McDavid has won the Hart Trophy three times already, and is in the hunt for his fourth, which would be the most of any active player.
The problem for McDavid is that he’s going up against Kucherov and MacKinnon, who are having phenomenal years themselves. The reigning Rocket Richard Trophy winner is 13 points back from Kucherov, but a productive latter stage of the season could yet shorten his odds.
Another team that has struggled to gain any sort of momentum this season has been the Toronto Maple Leafs, but that’s been no fault of their star player.
Auston Matthews is having an outstanding season so far for Toronto, leading the league with 48 goals and tied for sixth in points.
His offensive skills and goal-scoring ability is unmatched, and he also brings a strong defensive component.
The former Calder Trophy winner has been Toronto’s MVP since entering the league in 2016, which was proven with a Hart Trophy, Ted Lindsay Award, and Rocket Richard Trophy (his second) just two seasons ago.
Rounding out the top five in the Hart Trophy odds is Boston Bruins right winger David Pastrnak, and there is no questioning what he brings to the table.
While his odds have dropped given the performance of those above him, Pastrnak is still a problem for opponents every night, and is helping lead his team to continued success after an offseason where the Bruins lost many pieces from a loaded roster.
The veteran’s presence has helped Boston maintain their excellence in a difficult division, as Boston has been near the top of the Eastern Conference in points for practically the whole season. At the time of publishing, Pastrnak is fouth in the league both in points and in goals.
Odds displayed within this article were correct at the time of writing and are subject to change.