Barring a huge disaster or a big surge from someone on the outside looking in, Evgeni Malkin will most definitely bring home the Art Ross Trophy for most points in the season. That, of course, will set him up, most likely, as a candidate for the Hart Trophy for league MVP. The big question that I will pose here is whether or not Malkin can be the considered the MVP with Sidney Crosby as his teammate and the "face of the league"??
I put this thought out there, mostly because the Hart is supposed to go to the player who is most valuable to his team. With two guys like Crosby and Malkin on the same team, you'd think they'd almost cancel each other out in terms of voting because how could you say one is better than the other?? It's not like last season where Crosby was out for a good chunk of the season and Malkin carried the team, for the most part, in the regular season. This year, Malkin has played only five more games than Crosby, so it's not like you could say Malkin was most valuable to his team when Crosby is just as valuable. Though, the Hart voters could be hackney and give a co-MVP award so no one on the Penguins gets their feelings hurt, but I doubt that would happen.
Granted, many could bring up the run Wayne Gretzky had of Hart Trophies during the Edmonton Oilers' dynasty that he was on a team of great players, which in hindsight is true. However, when you look at the stats and the play, Gretzky far and away lead the team on the ice and made those around him better.
This brings up who could be considered as a candidate for the Hart Trophy. Tim Thomas in Boston could definitely be considered as a top choice with his performance this year (albeit, recently it hasn't been too good), he still leads the league in GAA and save percentage. A guy like Zach Parise could come to some voters' mind when you consider how much he stepped up into an offensive role on the Devils with their other top dog in Martin Brodeur out for the weight of the season. Joe Thornton and Jarome Iginla are both unsung leaders on their teams and really don't get the press thanks to "East Coast Bias". And speaking of the ECB, last but not least-- Alex Ovechkin will definitely make a run at a repeat of Hart Trophies.
It'll be an interesting look at who the finalist will be for the big award at the end of the day and to see where the heads of the voters are when they actually cast it. I don't really envy their decision, but wish I could have a chance to take a hack at voting who could be deemed MVP. How does Scott Clemmensen for Hart sound??