Alex Ovechkin’s fifth-place Hart Trophy vote was exceedingly rare


Alex Ovechkin won another “Rocket” Richard Trophy. But should he have gotten more Hart Trophy nods? (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The scrutiny shouldered by Alex Ovechkin reached new levels this season, not coincidentally because the Washington Capitals missed the playoffs for the first time since 2006-07 and Ovechkin’s plus-minus rating bottomed out at minus-35, one of the worst marks in the NHL. That said, the star winger, whose shortcomings may always draw more attention than his achievements, still scored in droves, 51 goals in all, plenty enough to earn his fourth Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy, given annually to the league’s best goal-scorer.

“It’s great to have that kind of moment in my life,” he said Tuesday night in Las Vegas at the NHL awards ceremony. “It’s not my first time, but it’s always nice to go back.”

While Ovechkin fielded questions at the podium inside the media room, the NHL also released its voting totals for the Hart Trophy, presented to the league’s most valuable player, and its all-star teams. Ovechkin received just one MVP vote — for fifth place — and finished tied for 23rd overall on the Hart list. He was also named a second-team All-Star, making the postseason list for the ninth time, most among active players.


As colleague Neil Greenberg notes, that fifth-place vote is exceedingly rare for someone who eclipsed the 50-goal plateau (in Ovechkin’s case, he scored 51 this season):

To get into that further, piggy-backing off another Greenberg tweet, the NHL has seen only 18 50-goal scorers since 2005-06, distributed among 11 players. Ovechkin has done it five times. No one else has done it more than twice, and only three players — Dany Heatley, Ilya Kovalchuk and Steve Stamkos — have even accomplished the feat that many times. So how did that exclusive list of recent 50-goal-scorers fare in Hart Trophy and All-Star voting?

Here’s a look:

2005-06

 Jonathan Cheechoo (56 goals): 15th in Hart Trophy (1 2nd-place vote), no All-Star selection. 

Jaromir Jagr (54 goals): 2nd in Hart Trophy (48 first-place votes), 1st-team All-Star.

Ovechkin (52 goals): 6th in Hart Trophy (1 1st-place vote), 1st-team All-Star.

Kovalchuk (52 goals): 24th in Hart Trophy (2 5th-place votes), no All-Star selection.

Heatley (50 goals): 10th in Hart Trophy (3 3rd-place votes), 2nd-team All-Star.

2006-07

Vincent Lecavalier (52 goals): 4th in Hart Trophy (5 1st-place votes), 2nd-team All-Star.

Heatley (50 goals): 12th in Hart Trophy (2 3rd-place votes), 1st-team All-Star.

2007-08

Ovechkin (65 goals): 1st in Hart Trophy (128 1st-place votes), 1st-team All-Star.

Jarome Iginla (50 goals): 3rd in Hart Trophy (2 1st-place votes), 1st-team All-Star.

Kovalchuk (52 goals): 14th in Hart Trohy (1 4th-place vote), no All-Star selection.

2008-09

Ovechkin (56 goals): 1st in Hart Trophy (11th 1st-place votes), 1st-team All-Star.

2009-10

Sidney Crosby (51 goals): 3rd in Hart Trophy (20 1st-place votes), 2nd-team All-Star.

Steven Stamkos (51 goals): 6th in Hart Trophy (2 3rd-place votes), no All-Star selection.

Ovechkin (50 goals): 2nd in Hart Trophy (40 1st-place votes), 1st-team All-Star.

2010-11

Corey Perry (50 goals): 1st in Hart Trophy (67 1st-place votes), 1st-team All-Star.

2011-12

Stamkos (60 goals): 2nd in Hart Trophy (1 1st-place vote), 2nd-team All-Star.

Evgeni Malkin (50 goals): 1st in Hart Trophy (144 1st-place votes), 1st-team All-Star.

2012-13

Lockout-shortened season, so scoring 50 would have been ridiculous. But Ovechkin led the league with 32 goals, finished first in Hart Trophy voting and was a 1st-team All-Star.

2013-14

Ovechkin (51 goals): 23rd in Hart Trophy (1 5th-place vote), 2nd-team All-Star.

Plus, as the Japers’ Rink folks noted, Ovechkin was also in rare territory on the voting list for the Hart Trophy, defined as “player judged most valuable to his team,” given that none of his Capitals teammates (unsurprisingly) made the cut. 

What do you think? Was Ovechkin deserving of more votes, even something like an additional fifth-place vote from another writer? Or were his defensive shortcomings not enough to reconcile with his obvious scoring prowess?

Alex Prewitt covers the Washington Capitals. Follow him on Twitter @alex_prewitt or email him at alex.prewitt@washpost.com.
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