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NHL Awards: How Diana C. Nearhos voted

And why voting Nikita Kucherov for Hart Trophy was the easiest call the Lightning beat writer had this season.
Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) shoots and scores on the power play. (DIRK SHADD | Times)
Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) shoots and scores on the power play. (DIRK SHADD | Times)
Published Jun. 19, 2019

Nikita Kucherov earned the Hart Trophy. That vote was one of the easiest things I did this season.

As a member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, I vote for six awards as well as the all-star and all-rookie teams. Those winners, as well the other honors, will be revealed at tonight’s NHL Awards show (NBCSN, 8 p.m.).

Earlier in the season, I was less certain where I’d go with my Hart vote. Kucherov was good for sure, but was he MVP?

Related: RELATED: Nikita Kucherov is the Lightning's best chance at NHL Awards

There is a difference between the most valuable player and the most outstanding player. A difference greater than the opinions of the players who vote on the Ted Lindsay and the writers who vote for the Hart Trophy.

The Hart should go to the player who makes the biggest difference to his team, not just the best player in the league. Kucherov was clearly the latter, but could he be the former in a team with this many stars?

As the season went on, the answer was a resounding yes.

Not only did Kucherov rack up the points at a historic rate, he also lifted the Lightning with him. Tampa Bay was better with Kucherov, for more than just the points he contributed.

Thus, the easy decision to vote for Kucherov for Hart.

Related: RELATED: Lightning in line for multiple NHL Awards

Diana C. Nearhos’ NHL Awards winners:

Hart Trophy: Nikita Kucherov, Lightning

Norris Trophy: Mark Giordano, Flames

Calder Trophy: Elias Pettersson, Canucks

Lady Byng Trophy: Aleksander Barkov, Panthers

Selke Trophy: Ryan O’Reilly, Blues

Masterton Award: Robin Lehner, Islanders


  1. Columbus left wing Artemi Panarin (9) and Columbus Blue Jackets center Matt Duchene (95) celebrate in front of the Lightning bench during the Blue Jackets' first-round victory over Tampa Bay in the first round of the 2019 NHL Playoffs. The four-game sweep was Columbus' payoff for a few deals at the trade deadline for players with expiring contracts.
  2. Vegas Golden Knights center Paul Stastny (26) scores against Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020, in Las Vegas.
  3. The Lightning traded Danick Martel to the Panthers for Anthony Greco.
  4. Trading Martin St. Louis was hard, but the Lightning's return turned out to be even better than they thought at the time.
  5. Colorado Avalanche left wing J.T. Compher, left, flies into Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Curtis McElhinney while pursuing the puck in the third period of an NHL hockey game Monday, Feb. 17, 2020, in Denver. The Lightning won 4-3 in overtime.
  6. Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov, right, drives past Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon to score the winning goal in overtime of an NHL hockey game Monday, Feb. 17, 2020, in Denver. The Lightning won 4-3.
  7. New Jersey Devils center Blake Coleman during the second period of a Feb. 8 game in Newark, N.J.
  8. New Jersey Devils center Blake Coleman (20) during warmups before a recent hockey game against the Dallas Stars in Newark, N.J.
  9. Distant Thunder fan Eva Cervenkova fist bumps Nikita Kucherov before the Lightning's game against the Flyers on Saturday.
  10. Members of the men's ice hockey team from the United States pose in front of the Olympic rings during the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
  11. New Jersey Devils' Blake Coleman (20) brings the puck up the ice against the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh, N.C., on Friday.
  12. It was that kind of game Saturday night. Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Robert Hagg (8) collides with Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) as defenseman Luke Schenn (2) comes to help out during the third period of Tampa Bay's 5-3 victory. JASON BEHNKEN | AP Photo