There’s no competition for the fantasy Hart Trophy.
Washington Capitals LW Alexander Ovechkin is the winner, hands down.
Let’s begin with his 528 shots on goal. If you combine the shots on goal of the other two real-life Hart candidates, Pittsburgh Penguins C Evgeni Malkin (290) and Detroit Red Wings C Pavel Datsyuk (248), you get a total of 538 — only 10 more shots than Ovechkin registered by himself.
Ovechkin also led the league in the simplest, most important fantasy category: goals. His 56 lamp lightings rivaled the combined output of Malkin (35) and Datsyuk (32). In addition, Ovechkin led the NHL in power play points (46) and ranked 10th in assists (54).
Simply put, assists and +/- are the only categories in which Malkin (78, +17) and Datsyuk (65, +34) have it over Ovechkin (54, +8). But Ovechkin’s uber-dominance in shots, goals and power play points is too vast to be ignored, especially when combined with his more than respectable showing in the assists department.
Moreover, as a left wing, Ovechkin is a more valuable fantasy chess piece than are centers such as Malkin and Datsyuk. In fantasy hockey, elite left wings are hard to find, once you get past Ovechkin, his teammate Alexander Semin, and New Jersey Devils LW Zach Parise.
Elite centers, by contrast, are well nigh ubiquitous: Malkin is not much more valuable than his teammate, 2007 Hart winner Sidney Crosby. And Datsyuk, while indisputably a No. 1 fantasy center, was actually a less productive fantasy commodity this season than were Philadelphia Flyers C Jeff Carter and Anaheim Ducks C Ryan Getzlaf. Carter’s 46 goals ranked second to Ovechkin’s 56, while his 342 shots ranked fourth; Getzlaf outproduced Datsyuk in the categories of penalty minutes (121 to 22), assists (66 to 65) and power-play points (37 to 36).
None of which is meant to disparage Datsyuk’s real-life season. But in strictly fantasy terms, he would not be a Hart candidate. Parise, Carter and Getzlaf had better numbers.
photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons