NHL.com panel: Lightning’s Nikita Kucherov is frontrunner for Hart Trophy as NHL’s MVP

The Tampa Bay right wing leads the league in assists and points and is putting up numbers at an historic pace.
Lightning wing Nikita Kucherov (86) skates with the puck during a game against the Arizona Coyotes earlier this season in Glendale, Ariz. ([AP Photo/Ralph Freso]
Lightning wing Nikita Kucherov (86) skates with the puck during a game against the Arizona Coyotes earlier this season in Glendale, Ariz. ([AP Photo/Ralph Freso]
Published January 11
Updated January 11

Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov is halfway to the Hart Trophy as the NHL's Most Valuable Player.

At least, in the view of some of the writers who vote for the award.

Kucherov received 68 points, including eight first-place votes, in balloting by a panel of 20 NHL.com writers. Colorado's Nathan MacKinnon was second (58 points, 4 first-place votes), followed by Edmonton's Connor McDavid (44, 4).

Just past the midway point of the season, Kucherov leads the league with 51 assists and 72 points. He also has 21 goals in 44 games.

More impressive, he's putting up numbers at an historic pace.

"Kucherov has been so good, he's accomplishing things previously done by the likes of only Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr and Ron Francis," NHL.com's Dan Rosen writes.

Kucherov reached 70 points in 43 games, faster than any player in Lightning history and the first to do so since Jagr (39 games) in 1999-2000.

He also became only the 10th player in league history to record 50 assists in 43 games. Gretzky, Lemieux and Francis were the last to do it, in 1995-96.

Advertisement