On Friday night, the National Hockey League revealed the finalists for the Hart Trophy. The three finalists are New Jersey Devils forward Taylor Hall, Colorado Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon, and Los Angeles Kings forward Anze Kopitar. Notably absent from that list are both Philadelphia Flyers forward Claude Giroux, and Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid.
Claude Giroux deserves to be at least in the top three of voting for the Hart Trophy. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it.
McDavid missing out can be explained by some voters putting weight into an individual’s team making or missing the playoffs, but Giroux missing out is puzzling.
At the end of the season I wrote a piece breaking down why Giroux deserves to win the Hart Trophy. Sure, it had some Flyers bias in it, but all of the facts support that Giroux deserved to at least be among the top three in voting. I’m going to rehash some of those stats and arguments here.
I can accept the fact that Hall and MacKinnon are equal to, or even higher than, Giroux, but Kopitar being in the top three over Giroux is baffling. Giroux had 10 more points overall, 10 more points at 5v5, and had his hand in a much higher percentage of his team’s goals than Kopitar.
Hall and MacKinnon at least have the narrative that they are an individual carrying a team to the playoffs without much of a supporting cast. While on the surface that may be true, the numbers tell a different story.
Giroux had more points overall (102) than MacKinnon (97), Hall (93), or Kopitar (92), and had as many points at 5v5 as MacKinnon (55), while having 10 more than Hall and Kopitar, who each had 45. He had points on a higher percentage of his team’s goals (40.96%) than MacKinnon (38.04%), Hall (38.27%), or Kopitar (38.82%). He was on the ice for a candidate-best 56.22% of the Flyers’ goals overall, while none of the three finalists (MacKinnon, 49.41%; Hall, 49.38%; Kopitar, 49.95%) cracked the 50% mark.
The only category where any of the three finalists best Giroux is point percentage on their team’s goals at 5v5. Giroux was on the ice for 35.03% of the Flyers 5v5 goals, while MacKinnon was on the ice for 36.42% of Colorado’s 5v5 goals.
Giroux also played a better all-around game, even better than the Selke-nominated Kopitar.
He had a higher corsi for percentage (52.92%), relative CF% (+6.66%), expected goals for percentage (55.35%), relative xGF% (+9.97%), and was on the ice for more goals for per 60 minutes (3.72) than the three finalists while getting the most difficult zone starts. He and Kopitar were the only two of these four to play in all 82 games this season.
Almost every argument that can be made for Taylor Hall, Nathan MacKinnon, or Anze Kopitar can be made for Claude Giroux. He is one of the top scorers, the best play-drivers, and played well in all 82 games.
Here’s an excerpt from my piece earlier this month, making a case for Giroux.
Claude Giroux was one of the best players in the league. He led the league in assists, was second in scoring, played in all situations, and was the main contributor on a playoff team for all 82 games. He was consistent from the start of the season all the way to the end at a new position, setting career-highs in his age-30 season. He scored the first Flyers goal of the regular season, and also the last.
Giroux had double-digit points in every full month, and nearly reached it in April as well with nine points in just four games. A lot of the fans remember just his second-half due to his big-time goals in clutch moments, but Giroux was consistently consistent. He had 51 points in the first 41 games, and then 51 points in the last 41 games.
Those second-half numbers just seem to stand out more due to the way he came up clutch in big moments to put the team on his back. He came up big for the Flyers when they needed him most. He ended the season on a 10-game point streak, with 19 points (eight goals, 11 assists) in that span. He also had at least one point in 18 of his final 19 games, with 28 points (12 goals, 16 assists) in that span. Since February 8th, Giroux had 19 goals and 25 assists for 44 points in 29 games. He was held without a point in just three of the final 29 games.
The Flyers have two finalists for awards in Sean Couturier, nominated for the Selke Trophy, and Wayne Simmonds, nominated for the Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award, but they deserved a third.
I would be able to accept Giroux losing the voting to one of Hall or especially MacKinnon, but him not even being among the top three in voting is a disgrace.
Photo by Heather Barry/Sons of Penn
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