Nikita Kucherov of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers, and Nathan McKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche are in a close battle for the most points in the NHL. The Hart Memorial Trophy, which is awarded to the player deemed most valuable to his club, is chosen by a vote of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association in each NHL city at the conclusion of the season, whereas the Art Ross Trophy race is determined on the ice. One hockey analyst recently presented a compelling argument for Kucherov to get this honor.

P.K. Subban of ESPN recently shared remarks from the ESPN show explaining why Kucherov ought to take home the trophy instead of MacKinnon, McDavid, and Sidney Crosby. The 34-year-old, who spent 13 seasons as an NHL player with the New Jersey Devils, Nashville Predators, and Montreal Canadiens, had many good explanations for this.


Lightning star Nikita Kucherov looks better than ever early in 2023-24 NHL  season - Yahoo Sports

No Playoffs Without Kucherov

As per the NHL’s criteria for the Hart Trophy, it honors the player deemed most indispensable to their team’s success. Subban contends that no player has been as crucial to their team’s fortunes as Kucherov has been for the Lightning. He asserts that without Kucherov, the Lightning might not have made it to the playoffs this season. Subban highlights that as of April 7, Kucherov has outscored the next player on the Lightning by 51 points. Recently, the 30-year-old broke the Lightning’s franchise record for most points in a season during a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on April 3.

Subban also underscores Kucherov’s role in leading the Lightning to possess the NHL’s top power play, where he has racked up the most points with the man advantage. Kucherov’s prowess on the power play was recognized in a poll by The Athletic, where he was unanimously selected for inclusion in the ultimate NHL power play unit due to his multifaceted skill set that makes him nearly impossible to defend against, according to Danton Heinen of the Boston Bruins.

Furthermore, it was noted that Kucherov serves as a quiet yet influential leader for the Lightning. He is often the first one on the ice and the last one off during practices. Even after the Lightning’s early exit from last season’s playoffs, Kucherov wasted no time and began his offseason conditioning program just a week later, working tirelessly with former NHLer Adam Oates five or six days a week. This dedication doesn’t go unnoticed by his teammates, as a media survey identified Kucherov as a lead-by-example figure, among the many attributes they admire about him.

“Not a Centerman”

Subban further contends that Kucherov’s exceptional performance is even more remarkable considering he doesn’t have “the luxury of being a centerman.” He contrasts Kucherov’s situation with players like MacKinnon, McDavid, and Crosby, who can swiftly carry the puck through the center of the ice with speed. As a winger, Kucherov must rely on his defensive teammates and patiently await opportunities for the breakout before initiating attacks.

Additionally, Subban highlights that Kucherov’s achievements occurred despite significant absences from key Lightning players throughout the season. Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy missed the first 20 games, while defenseman Mikhail Sergavchev suffered a season-ending leg injury in January during a game against the New York Rangers.


Kucherov was among the 12 skaters chosen to participate in February’s revamped NHL All-Star Skills competition. However, his perceived lack of effort drew criticism and boos from fans and media alike. Some even speculated that his attitude during the competition, coupled with his comments afterward, might deter people from voting for him in the year-end awards.

Subban disagrees with this criticism, emphasizing Kucherov’s exemplary attitude towards his teammates and the sport itself, which he considers among the best in the league. “MVP doesn’t include ‘attitude’,” Subban remarked. “I don’t think anyone should judge him based on what happened at the All-Star Game. It’s disrespectful to overlook his accomplishments. We’ve heard commendations from players like Steven Stamkos and Brayden Point regarding his dedication to the game. He deserves respect as a player.”

The resolution of Subban’s argument for Kucherov will unfold in late June. Although the NHL has yet to announce a date or location for its awards show, Las Vegas is a likely choice. Recent visits by league officials to the city suggest that it may host the event, possibly immediately following the NHL Entry Draft scheduled for June 28-29, 2024, at the Sphere in Las Vegas.

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