Hart – Vladimr Tarasenko
The man has three consecutive seasons of 70 points and nearly back-to-back 40-goal campaigns. Vladimir Tarasenko just missed elite company that only includes Brett Hull, Brendan Shanahan and Joe Mullen in these feats. But, it’s more than just the stats that tell the story of one of the league’s quietly emerging superstars.
Tarasenko delivered in some of the team’s most significant moments this season, including a two-goal performance in the Winter Classic and his third career hat trick in early December. He also won the heart of an 11 year-old fan battling cancer in Arianna Dougan, as she was invited to a two-game roadtrip during which Tarasenko picked up a goal.
Coming into the season on the cover of the NHL 2017 video game and earning all-star team recognition for the third straight year, Tarasenko is starting to pick up the notoriety of a big-name player that the Blues have lacked in recent years. Ultimately, Tarasenko offers a dynamic for the Blues that is not simple to replace and it’s entirely possible that St. Louis may not stand in a playoff position without him.
Chance of NHL awards recognition
Compared to the previous four accolades, Tarasenko may present a strong case for the Hart Trophy, depending on how the standards of most valuable player are measured. He’s finished 14th and 12th place in Hart Trophy standings over the past two years respectively. While he could climb this ladder once again, Edmonton’s Connor McDavid has statistically performed on a higher level than any other player this season.
These five accolades have a combined 140 games of playoff experience, four of them who played in the Western Conference Finals last year. Each one will be counted on for playoff success in 2017 and beyond. The St. Louis Blues could open up their 2016-17 Stanley Cup playoff run against the Minnesota Wild as soon as Wednesday, April 12.