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Morning Coffee: Revisiting Kucherov’s case to win the Hart Trophy

Nikita Kucherov Nikita Kucherov - The Canadian Press

Sometimes it seems too simple to overlook greatness.

I’ve listened to people stumble over their own words as they are overwhelmed by the excitement of the ordinary, while the extraordinary stares them down, unnoticed.

Consider Nikita Kucherov’s performance so far this season as an example.

The 30-year-old superstar winger leads the NHL with 105 points in 62 games.

That’s four points clear of Nathan MacKinnon for the best mark in the entire league.

Still, Kucherov is only the third choice to win the Hart Trophy at FanDuel, behind both Auston Matthews and MacKinnon.

Kucherov has seemingly willed the Tampa Bay Lightning into a playoff position with his remarkable production.

Unlike his top competition in the Hart Trophy race, there is a massive gap between Kucherov and his nearest teammate when it comes to his offensive statistics.

Those numbers underline the case for Kucherov in one of the most fascinating Hart Trophy races in NHL history.

This is the Morning Coffee for Monday March 4th, 2024.

Revisiting Kucherov’s Case To Win The Hart Trophy

The Lightning rank sixth in the NHL with 211 goals.

With 105 points, Kucherov has recorded a goal or an assist on 49.8 per cent of Tampa Bay’s goals.

For perspective, MacKinnon has registered a point on 44.8 per cent of the 225 goals by the Colorado Avalanche.

Matthews has a point on 36 per cent of the 219 goals scored by the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Connor McDavid has recorded a point on 46.2 per cent of the 210 goals scored by the Edmonton Oilers.

Kucherov’s 105 points is 40 more than Brayden Point, who ranks second on the Lightning with 65 points.

Taking a closer look at the top four choices to win the Hart, the gap isn’t nearly as big elsewhere.

Matthews is the current favourite to win the Hart Trophy at +165 at FanDuel.

While Matthews leads the NHL with 53 goals, his 79 points are four fewer than William Nylander, who leads the Maple Leafs with 83 points.

McDavid’s 97 points are 19 more than Leon Draisaitl in second place for the Oilers with 78.

MacKinnon leads Colorado with 101 points – 23 more than Mikko Rantanen, who ranks second with 78.

How important is playoff positioning in the Hart Trophy discussion?


For as impressive as Kucherov’s production has been to date, Tampa Bay is still fighting for a Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

The fact that the Lightning are looking up at the Florida Panthers, Boston Bruins and Toronto in their own division could be regarded as a detriment to Kucherov’s case to win the Hart Trophy.

At the same time, he’s the biggest reason Tampa Bay is even in a playoff spot at this point in the season.

With 19 games left on the Lightning’s regular season schedule, there’s still plenty of time for Kucherov to add to his case for the Hart Trophy.

With Matthews, MacKinnon and McDavid showing no signs of slowing down on teams that are all above Tampa Bay in the standings, it will take a truly special finish for Kucherov to emerge as a Hart Trophy favourite down the final stretch.

Regardless of what happens next, I’m not overlooking how impressive Kucherov has performed this season.

Can The Jets Hold Off Stars, Avalanche In The Central?

The Winnipeg Jets found themselves trailing on the road in back-to-back road games over the weekend.

Somehow, they managed to rally and win both.

Trailing 3-0 entering the third period against the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday, Winnipeg rallied with five unanswered goals in the third period to win 5-3.

24 hours later, the Jets rallied from down 2-1 in the third to beat the Buffalo Sabres 5-2.

With the victories, Winnipeg is now tied with the Dallas Stars for first place in the Central Division at 83 points, with three games in hand.

The Jets are four points clear of Colorado with two games in hand.

Winnipeg is the favourite to win the Central Division at -170 odds at FanDuel this morning.

Dallas is the second choice at +200.

The Avalanche are a distant third choice at +600.

The Jets have a golden opportunity to solidify their position atop the Central Division with games in hand on their competition and a very manageable schedule over the next two weeks with six of their next seven games against opponents currently outside of a playoff spot.

If they can capitalize, Winnipeg will have an opportunity to clinch a division title and perhaps even beat out the Vancouver Canucks for the best regular season record in the Western Conference.

As somebody that wants to see the team do well, I’m hoping the Jets can finish strong.