Does Steven Stamkos Deserve to be a Hart Trophy Finalist?

Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos, New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist and Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin have been named finalists for the Hart Memorial Trophy, the annual award given to the player judged to be the most valuable to his team during the regular season. The winner is selected in a poll of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association in all NHL cities and will be announced June 20 at the NHL awards banquet in Las Vegas.

Once the finalists were announced, it was obvious that Malkin was the prohibitive favorite to win the award. The social media world exploded with opinionated outbursts claiming Stamkos didn’t deserve to be a finalist, mainly because his Lightning team failed to make the playoffs. One of the most boisterous was yours truly. I was full of snarky comments like this:

I set out to prove this point After crunching the numbers, I found myself shaking my head over my previous, uneducated rant. The numbers don’t lie. They show just the opposite.

Steven Stamkos is as deserving a Hart Trophy finalist as Evgeni Malkin.

*For the sake of this discussion, I am not including goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. Comparing a goaltender and a skater is a research project for another time.

The Malkin File

Won the Art Ross Trophy for leading the league in points with 109.

First player since 1995-96 to score five points in a game four times.

Finished second in the NHL (behind Stamkos) in goals with 50.

The Stamkos File

Won the Maurice Richard Trophy for leading the league in goals with 60.

First player since 2007-08 to score at least 60 goals.

Finished second in the NHL (behind Malkin) in points with 97.

Led the NHL and set a league record with five overtime goals.

Led the NHL with 48 even strength goals – The most since 1992-93.

 

Side By Side Comparison


Statistical Category Steven Stamkos Evgeni Malkin
Games

82

75

Goals

60

50

% Team Goals

25.5

17.7

Goals vs. Playoff Teams

26

36

Assists

37

59

% Team Assists

9.4

12.5

Points

97

109

Average Points Per Game

1.18

1.45

% Team Points

15.6

14.6

Points vs. Playoff Teams

58

53

% Points vs. Bottom 5 Teams

13.4

14.8

Goals Created

43

43

+/-

+7

+18

Even Strength Goals

48

38

Power Play Goals

12

12

% Team Power Play Goals

29.3

21.1

Game Winning Goals

12

9

Overtime Goals

5

1

Penalty Minutes

66

70

Shots

303

339

% Team Shots

13.6

12.2

Shooting %

19.8

14.7

Total Time on Ice

1,806

1,577

Average Total Time on Ice

22:01

21:01

Hits

109

29

Blocks

37

41

Faceoff Win %

45.5

47.5

Takeaways

42

52

Giveaways

45

73

Team Record When Not Scoring a Point

5-15-2

5-9-0

*Goals Created-Calculated by adding goals scored to 0.5 times assists, then multiplying by team goals divided by team goals plus 0.5 times team assists.

Analysis

Stamkos played more games, had more goals, more game winning goals and a much higher shooting percentage.

Malkin had many more assists, points and shots, but a lower shooting percentage.

Stamkos was the more physical player, outhitting Malkin by 80 hits. Malkin blocked more shots.

Malkin had many more takeaways, but also gave away the puck 28 more times than Stamkos.

Both players dominated the bad teams (Maple Leafs, Islanders, Canadiens, Oilers and Blue Jackets). Malkin scored more goals and Stamkos had more points versus the playoff teams.

Stamkos scored more overtime goals (5) than anybody in the history of the NHL

Malkin dominated Stamkos in +/- rating.

The two were virtually even in faceoff percentage, penalty minutes, power play goals and average time on ice.

The competition is just as close in the area of “percentage of team” statistics. Stamkos has a slight advantage as he scored a higher percentage of his teams goals, power play goals and points, while Malkin had a higher percentage of his teams assists.

Both the Lightning and Penguins sorely needed the duo to appear on the score sheet. When Stamkos didn’t have a point, Tampa Bay’s record was 5-15-2. When Malkin didn’t have a point, the Penguins went 5-9-0.

Certainly this exercise proves beyond a shadow of doubt, that Steven Stamkos deserved a Hart nomination. Does he deserve the award?

If you look only at the numbers and base your decision solely on the individual statistics and the players worth to his team…The answer is yes, he deserves it just as much as Malkin does. If you look at the team results, Malkin wins the award easily as he led his team to a fourth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Puck Daddy’s Greg Wyshynski put it this way:

In the end, I believe Stamkos is a worthy finalist and it would be hard to argue if he won the award, based on his numbers. But the fact that the Bolts finished out of the playoffs cannot be ignored.

Given the choice between Malkin and Stamkos, Evgeni Malkin is your Hart Memorial Trophy winner.

*Statistics courtesy of Hockey-Reference.com and NHL.com.

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About the Author: WB Philp is a published hockey writer who has a built in disdain for Barry Melrose. He covered the Detroit sports teams for many years until he came to his senses and moved to the Sunshine State. He is a true puckhead on a mission from God (Gordie Howe) to make hockey relevant in the south. He lives in Hockey Bay USA and covers the Lightning full time. Did I mention he hates Barry Melrose?

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  1. Alex Muscat says:

    Nice job on the “Tales of the Tape”. If I’m not mistaken, only two players, whose team didn’t make the playoffs, took home the Hart Trophy (Al Rollins in 1954 and Mario Lemieux in 1988).
    With guys like Sidney Crosby, Kris Letang and Jordan Staal out of the Penguins’ lineup during parts of the season, Malkin elevated his play and didn’t look back. This year, the Hart will go to #71, but I don’t think this will be the last time that Stamkos will be nominated for this award.

  2. WB Philp says:

    Thanks Alex. I agree on Malkin and yes, Stamkos should have many more opportunities to win the Hart.