We’ve seen a center take home the Hart Trophy in three straight seasons. Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews had to put together a 60-goal season in order to beat out Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid for the award in 2021-22. McDavid had been the most recent winner of the Hart after his teammate Leon Draisaitl won it in 2019-20. Matthews also shook off New York Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin, who was named a finalist. We’ve only seen a goaltender win the Hart twice in the past 20 seasons. So who will take it home this season? We’re going to take a look at the odds on DraftKings Sportsbook and make some picks.
Hart Trophy picks 2022-23
Connor McDavid (+250) — It’s super easy to just take McDavid, right? He’s got a very good shot at leading the NHL in points. The Oilers should be contenders in the West and make the playoffs. Edmonton also has a good chance of winning the Pacific Division. So it takes literally making history to beat McDavid for the trophy. McDavid has won twice in his career and you’d think he finishes it with at least a few more. He has perhaps the best quality of linemates with Evander Kane on his wing. The Oilers were 7th in goals per game and 3rd in power play percentage last season. There’s no reason to believe they’ll regress on offense. So yeah, that’s why McDavid is at the top of the board.
Auston Matthews (+400) — Matthews is the reigning Hart Trophy winner after putting together a 60-goal season, the first since Steven Stamkos did it back in 2011-12. Similar to McDavid, there’s really no reason to believe the Maple Leafs will regress much. Toronto should finish among the top-3 in the Atlantic Division and have a shot at the top seed in the East. Matthews still has Mitch Marner, William Nylander and Morgan Rielly. John Tavares is injured to start the season, but that shouldn’t affect Matthews’ goal scoring as much. So both McDavid and Matthews make for solid bets for MVP.
More from the top of the board
Leon Draisaitl (+1000) and Nathan MacKinnon (+1000) are among the top-5 in odds but neither feel like good values right now. MacKinnon and the Avalanche are a bit weaker without Nazem Kadri. MacKinnon had 88 points in 65 games last season, so if he hadn’t missed games, he likely finishes among the top-10 in points. MacKinnon’s case could get leached by D Cale Makar (+1300), the reigning Conn Smythe winner, and RW Mikko Rantanen, who led the Avs in points last season. Same goes for Draisaitl, who won over McDavid a few seasons ago. It may be tough to beat his teammate out again.
Makar and Kirill Kaprizov (+1200) are two names I really like behind the favorites. Makar feels like a shoe-in for Norris again. Kaprizov is my dark horse to lead the NHL in goals this season. If he carries the Wild to the postseason, that would be more than enough of a case for MVP.
But what about goalies?
Well there are two toward the top — Igor Shesterkin (+2000), who was a finalist last season, and Andrei Vasilevskiy (+3000), who won the Vezina Trophy back in 2018-19. The issue with Shesterkin is it’ll be tough to match his numbers from last season. The Rangers are trendy picks to finish toward the top in the East. If that’s the case, Shesterkin will have the wins. Will it be enough to get him to the top in Hart voting? The Rangers would need to have a remarkable season and Shesterkin would need to match or exceed his 2021-22 numbers.
Vasilevskiy has a better case at that line. If the Lightning are going to do anything this season it’s on the back of Vasi. He had a strong 2021-22 postseason and was 5th in Vezina voting last season. We know Vasilevskiy will start 50+ games. We know he’s going to get the majority of the wins in the crease. If all goes right for Tampa Bay, the team will be first in the ATL, maybe even the conference. So that would help Vasilevskiy’s case for the Hart.
I may be a homer, but Jack Hughes at +4000 feels too good to pass up. You’ve got to sprinkle a bit on it before the season starts. If the New Jersey Devils make the playoffs and Hughes puts up 100 points, it’d be hard to see him not winning the Hart Trophy. Taylor Hall basically did the same thing back in 2017, single-handedly helping New Jersey reach the postseason for the first time since 2012. Hughes could be the one to help the Devils make the playoffs for the first time since then.
The thing is, he isn’t alone. Nico Hischier and Hughes form a nice 1-2 punch down the middle. New Jersey has a solid top defenseman in Dougie Hamilton and should have at least average goaltending with Vitek Vanecek and Mackenzie Blackwood. Last season, the Devils had 63 points and finished third-to-last in the East. To make the postseason, the Devils would have needed 100 points, which is 37 points more. If that’s the type of improvement we may see in 2022-23, then Hughes being the main factor in that jump would help him in the Hart race.
Hughes missed a big chunk of last season and was on pace for 90 points. He should have consistent linemates with Yegor Sharangovich and veteran Ondrej Palat. Andrew Brunette was brought in to fix the power play. If his system works, it’s not out of the realm of possibility Hughes scores 95-100 points. He may not lead the NHL but the narrative is there.
Sebastian Aho (+5000) feels like great value. He could end up being the best player on the best team in the NHL. The Hurricanes finished with 116 points last season, third in the League.
Jack Eichel (+5000) is healthy and ready to lead the Golden Knights back to the postseason. He’s only played 55 games the past two seasons combined. If Eichel is 100% and can play 75-82 games, He’ll have a good shot at setting a new career high in points. Being the centerpiece of a playoff team with the bounce-back narrative helps.
Two players down at +7500 I like are Jason Robertson and Alex DeBrincat. Robertson just signed a new deal and had 79 points in 74 games last season for the Stars. If Dallas makes the playoffs again and Robertson is there best player all season, he’s got an outside shot to get into the Hart convo. DeBrincat, same deal, more like Hughes and Eichel. DeBrincat comes over via trade from the Blackhawks to the Senators. Ottawa has high expectations to get back into the playoffs. DeBrincat could be the best player/point leader on an improved Sens squad that returns to the postseason. The narrative is there.