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Morning Coffee: Is there value backing Kucherov to win the Hart?

Nikita Kucherov Tampa Bay Lightning Nikita Kucherov - The Canadian Press

Some things are so spectacular, they leave you in awe.

Sure, the total solar eclipse was kind of cool – if you didn’t stare at it.

I’m referring to the fireworks show that hockey’s biggest superstars have delivered for the 2023-24 NHL season.

For the first time in more than three decades, three players have scored 130 or more points in an epic Art Trophy Race that has come down to the wire.

All three superstars are in striking distance of 140 points heading into the final week of the regular season.

Meanwhile, another NHL superstar needs four goals in his final four games to become the first Rocket Richard Trophy winner to score 70 goals in a season.

For context, that award was established in 1998-99 – six years after Alexander Mogilny and Teemu Selanne each scored 76 goals in the 1992-93 NHL season.

Yes, that was also more than three decades ago.

Fortunately, the league’s biggest superstars have managed to stay healthy and perform at an elite level, making the 2023-24 NHL season one of the most memorable in my lifetime.

With just over one week remaining, the Hart Trophy market at FanDuel features a heavy favourite.

While the top choice deserves his props for a remarkable season, I’m not convinced that the gap between the first and second choices to win the Hart Trophy should be as big as it is right now.

This is the Morning Coffee for Wednesday, April 10th, 2024.

Is There Value Backing Kucherov To Win The Hart?

It wasn’t that long ago that you can bet on whether the Tampa Bay Lightning would make the playoffs at FanDuel.

One month later, those odds are off the board.

The Lightning are 11-2-1 in their previous 14 games dating back to March 9th.

No player has produced at a higher level over that span than their superstar winger Nikita Kucherov.

Kucherov leads the NHL with 27 assists and 32 points over the past 30 days.

New York Rangers winger Artemi Panarin ranks second on that list with 29 points.

Connor McDavid is third with 27 points over that span.

Nathan MacKinnon is fourth with 26 points over the last month.

Four of those 26 points came in last night’s 5-2 win over the Minnesota Wild, including a hat-trick.

With a league-best 139 points in 77 games played, Kucherov has emerged as the frontrunner to win the Art Ross Trophy while leading one of the hottest teams in the NHL over the last 30 days.

Still, Kucherov’s odds to win the Hart Trophy have somehow lengthened since the start of March.

If we rewind back to March 1st, Kucherov was +260 to win the Hart Trophy as the third choice behind Auston Matthews (+190) and MacKinnon (+210).

As of this morning, Kucherov is now the second choice to win the Hart, but at +460 odds.


Hart Trophy Odds

Player Odds
 Nathan MacKinnon -470 
 Nikita Kucherov  +460
 Connor McDavid  +1100
 Auston Matthews +2400
Sidney Crosby +17000


MacKinnon is considered the obvious favourite at -470.

Despite emerging as the NHL scoring leader while guiding Tampa Bay to a better record than Colorado since March 9th, Kucherov’s odds to win the Hart have lengthened, while MacKinnon has emerged as the heavy favourite.

To be clear, I’m not taking anything away from MacKinnon, who is up to 51 goals and 137 points in 79 games and leads the league in even-strength points.

Instead, I’m pointing out that Kucherov’s odds to win the Hart are longer than they should be.

Where would the Lightning be without Kucherov?

There’s no way you could convince me they’d be a lock to make the playoffs without their superstar winger.

Kucherov’s 139 points are 53 more than his closest teammate.

Last night, he registered three assists in a 5-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets.

For perspective, Johnny Gaudreau is the only player on the Blue Jackets’ roster with more than 53 points this season.

Brayden Point leads Tampa Bay with 44 goals – one more than Kucherov.

However, Kucherov has played a massive role in his production as well, assisting on 31 of Point’s 44 goals.

Again, I’m not looking to take away anything from MacKinnon and everything that he has accomplished this season as the favourite to win the Hart Trophy.

My point is that if Kucherov wins the Art Ross Trophy while leading the Lightning to the playoffs, he deserves to be in the conversation at shorter than 4-to-1 odds.

As it stands this morning, Kucherov is +460 to win the Hart Trophy at FanDuel.

I think there is value backing Kucherov to win the Hart.