Justin Bishop ’24
The 2022-2023 NHL MVP will be none other than Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers. McDavid is a household name at only 25 years old and has already won two Hart Trophies, the MVP trophy for the National Hockey League. The Oilers captain has averaged 1.43 points over 496 games in his eight year career. In the years he has won his previous two MVP trophies, he scored 205 points in 138 games. When the 2020-2021 season was shortened due to COVID-19, McDavid posted a ridiculous 33 goals and 72 assists for 105 points in 56 games. This is a man who has lived up to expectations since he made his highly anticipated debut at 18 years old in 2015, a year where he notched 48 points in 45 games. Yes, an 18-year-old kid averaged more than a point per game in the National Hockey League. To put it plainly, this guy is unbelievable at hockey. Besides Leon Draisaitl, he carries the Edmonton Oilers on his back.
McDavid has been a finalist for MVP for the past seven years and will continue to be for as long as he plays. The explosiveness of his game is unmatched and his ability to change direction on the ice is baffling to the entire league. The way he can control the puck and map out where he needs to go to reach an open spot while skating through opposing players like they are pee-wees embarrasses even the most elite defensemen in the league. Currently McDavid sits atop the league lead in points this year with a staggering 18 points in nine games. He has an even nine goals and nine assists, but some defensive problems have led to him having a +/- of only +2 despite having 18 points. There are a multitude of options to finish second in MVP voting this year, including Cale Makar of the Colorado Avalanche, David Pastrnak of the Boston Bruins, and last year’s winner, Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs, who scored a league best 60 goals last season.
There may be a lot of talent behind McDavid, but that is the key; they are all chasing the greatest player in professional hockey currently. After this season, McDavid will acquire his third Hart Trophy without any question.
Joseph Quirk ’23
The New York Rangers made it all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals in the NHL playoffs this past summer. Last year was expected to be a building year for the team. They had talent, but they were incredibly young and inexperienced. However, the Rangers turned in one of the best records in the NHL last year and made a run in the playoffs, riding the back of their red-hot goaltender Igor Shesterkin. The “kids,” as they were called, got a good taste of meaningful hockey and improved as the postseason went on. Now, with another year of experience under their belt and some marginal improvements to the roster, the Rangers are expected to be Stanley Cup contenders.
If the Rangers are going to live up to these expectations, it will take a huge effort from Artemi Panarin, the superstar winger. Panarin was a big-time free agent signing for the Rangers back in 2019. Since joining the Rangers, he has finished as high as 3rd in Hart Trophy voting, which is the trophy for the NHL’s MVP award.
Panarin’s skill set is tremendous. He is a gifted puck handler and can score from anywhere on the ice with ease. Yet, somehow, these aren’t even his best attributes. His passing is where his abilities excel, and he has amazing vision on the ice. The talented players around Panarin perfectly support his skills. He plays with enough gifted scorers that can finish his passes with ease. He is also a primary puck handler for his line, putting him in optimal positions to set up teammates with good passes and find his own scoring lanes. He also plays alongside talented center Mika Zibanejad, who can easily set him up for goals.
The talent alongside Panarin takes defensive pressure off him, which certainly makes the game easier for him. All of this sets up Panarin to be an important player for the Rangers this year. He will likely also have significant numbers because of it. If the Rangers finish as a top two seed in the east, with Panarin having great numbers and a prominent role, it will be hard to argue against his case for MVP. It also doesn’t hurt that the media attention he will garner playing in New York for an Original Six franchise will be significant.
Story is a big part of the voting process too, and Panarin’s story rivals most players he will compete with for the MVP. Panarin is one of the most skilled players in the NHL, has a Rookie of the Year under his belt, and plays for a historic franchise. He was one of the first significant pieces that sped up this Rangers rebuild. The story may be too compelling for voters to ignore. Therefore, Artemi Panarin will be this season’s MVP.