A fellow FanSided writer posed an interesting question to me on Facebook, and it got me thinking — thinking so much that I decided to do a post about it.
Until he posed that question to me, I really didn’t think Gustav Nyquist had a shot at the Hart Trophy. With Sidney Crosby leading the league in points by a wide margin — 95 points to second place Ryan Getzlaf’s 79 — and guiding an injury-riddled Pittsburgh Penguins team to first place in the Metropolitan Division, I figured Crosby more or less had it in the bag.
He started out slow, comparatively, in 2011 amassing just eight points in 11 games, but he really turned it on for the rest of the regular season scoring 17, 21 and nine points in February, March and April to finish the season with 50 goals and 48 assists.
So why do I bring Perry into the discussion? Because Perry ended up winning the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s MVP that season despite not being the leading scorer.
This brings me to Gustav Nyquist, who is on the biggest of tears since January 20. He has scored 20 goals and 31 points since January 20 and currently leads the Red Wings in goals with 25.
No Red Wing has more than 18 goals, and Nyquist has only played 47 games.
Once the Goose was finally let loose, he started hot with five points in his first five games. However, he struggled in December only scoring four points in 11 games. The team struggled as well only winning five times in the month of December.
Now, I realize Nyquist is not anywhere near the top of the NHL leaderboard in scoring, but is this tear enough to warrant him discussion for the Hart Trophy?
The Hart Trophy is awarded to the player judged to be the most valuable to his team. Certainly, Nyquist has been very valuable to his team. He leads the team in scoring after spending the first 22 games in Grand Rapids with the Griffins.
The biggest difference between Perry’s 2010-11 season and Nyquist’s current season is Perry was more consistent throughout the entirety of the season. However, Nyquist also didn’t get his opportunity to play until late November.
Can you imagine where the Red Wings would be if Nyquist had started the season in Detroit? The Red Wings currently hold the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, but they could easily be fighting for the top or second seed in the Atlantic Division if Nyquist had been there from the beginning.
Nothing against Crosby, but he isn’t the only one who is able to score for the Penguins. Pittsburgh has four other players besides Crosby with 50 or more points. The Red Wings do not have a single player above 50 points.
Crosby has been great this year, but it isn’t a one-man show in Pittsburgh.
Hart Trophies are generally awarded to higher scoring players. I get that. Scoring goals and notching assists helps you win hockey games, which makes you valuable to your team.
But Nyquist is doing more than just scoring goals. He’s leading an injury-riddled team to a possible playoff berth — a playoff berth that, honestly, this team is fortunate to be fighting for because of the injuries endured throughout the season.
Doesn’t that count for something?