This year’s Hart Trophy award has been narrowed down to a two-man race between Connor McDavid and Sidney Crosby. Our writer Tony Brar put together an excellent article talking about which one of the two could win the award. Obviously, they deserve to be front-runners in the conversation but there’s one guy flying under the radar: Jeff Carter.
Jeff Carter has put the offense on his back this season. In goals scored, the LA Kings only have two players in double-digits with Carter leading the way with 29 goals. There is only one other player in the league that has more goals and that it is fellow Hart Trophy candidate, Sidney Crosby. Number 77 has scored 21% of the Kings goals which is more than anybody else in the NHL. Technically, those numbers make Jeff Carter the most valuable player to his team offensively. Nine of Carter’s 29 goals were game-winning goals with four of them coming in overtime. Those nine goals are not only the most game-winning goals by a player this year but the difference between the Kings being in a playoff spot and them being in sixth in the seven-team Pacific Division.
On a personal level, Jeff Carter is currently on pace for 42 goals in 82 games, meaning he would finish the season with four fewer goals than his career high (46). It’s not out of the question that Carter could surpass that mark.
The LA Kings have had an extremely unfortunate season with injuries and bad performances. The fact they’re in a playoff spot with no Jonathan Quick, an underachieving Anze Kopitar and a Tyler Toffoli that’s missed 19 games due to injury in pretty remarkable. Jeff Carter is a big reason to why the Kings are where they are.
When it all comes down to it, the Hart Trophy award is defined as the “player most valuable to his team.” Having scored 21% of his team’s goals, you’d think that Jeff Carter would tick the box for the league’s most coveted individual award. All Carter has to do is keep his team in the playoff race to have a shot at the Hart.