Should The Devils OneMan Machine Be The NHL MVP

272006PITS. Crosby102S. Gonchar58+44 Source: Hockey-Reference.com 221990DETS. Yzerman127G. Gallant80+47 262006NYRJ. Jagr123M. Nylander79+44 171991QUEJ. Sakic109M. Sundin59+50 To find a bigger gap than Hall’s lead over Hischier, you’d have to go back to 2007-08, when Ovechkin topped fellow Washington forward Nicklas Backstrom by 43 points. It’s no coincidence that most of the biggest differences on that list came in the high-flying offensive era of the 1980s and early ’90s, or in the first few seasons after the 2004-05 NHL lockout. Today’s game isn’t really set up for a player to shoulder as much of his team’s offensive burden as Hall does for the Devils — but New Jersey has made it work anyway. According to Hockey-Reference.com, the Hall-centric Devils have a 97 percent chance of making the playoffs.And there’s no question the Devils would be in major trouble without their star scorer. In addition to Hall’s lack of offensive support, New Jersey ranks 17th in save percentage with Keith Kinkaid and Cory Schneider between the pipes and is only in the middle of the pack in terms of denying opponent shots. Hall’s evolution from a 53-point scorer last season (his first with New Jersey) to an MVP candidate2Granted, Hall also showed flashes of this potential in Edmonton, tallying 27 goals and 80 points during the 2013-14 season. Perhaps the Oilers shouldn’t have shipped him away in one of the worst NHL trades in recent memory… has been directly responsible for lifting the Devils from last in the Eastern Conference to a likely playoff berth, the team’s first since 2012.Now, Hall isn’t the only player running on that specific narrative. MacKinnon in particular has also built his Hart candidacy around elevating a formerly terrible team into postseason contention. Nor is Hall likely the best player in the league — that honor probably belongs to McDavid, if not an old standby like Ovechkin or Sidney Crosby. But in terms of pure value to a team, it’s difficult to find a player whose production is more indispensable than Hall’s has been to the Devils this season. 31981EDMW. Gretzky164J. Kurri75+89 41988PITM. Lemieux168D. Quinn79+89 211981CGYK. Nilsson131G. Chouinard83+48 21983EDMW. Gretzky196M. Messier106+90 51989PITM. Lemieux199R. Brown115+84 91985EDMW. Gretzky208J. Kurri135+73 111996MDAP. Kariya108S. Rucchin44+64 101991LAKW. Gretzky163L. Robitaille91+72 No. 1 scorerNo. 2 scorer 121989DETS. Yzerman155G. Gallant93+62 131986PITM. Lemieux141M. Bullard83+58 Taylor Hall’s place among the NHL’s top one-man offensesBiggest difference between a team’s No. 1 and No. 2 scorers, 1951-2018 151993TORD. Gilmour127N. Borschevsky74+53 191993PITM. Lemieux160K. Stevens111+49 202006WSHA. Ovechkin106D. Zubrus57+49 281980EDMW. Gretzky137B. MacDonald94+43 292008WSHA. Ovechkin112N. Backstrom69+43 161979MTLG. Lafleur129S. Shutt77+52 142001FLAP. Bure92V. Kozlov37+55 81987EDMW. Gretzky183J. Kurri108+75 231993NYIP. Turgeon132S. Thomas87+45 241994LAKW. Gretzky130L. Robitaille86+44 11982EDMW. Gretzky212G. Anderson105+107 61984EDMW. Gretzky205P. Coffey126+79 SeasonTeamPlayerPointsPlayerPointsGap 181982WSHD. Maruk136R. Walter87+49 71986EDMW. Gretzky215P. Coffey138+77 302018NJDT. Hall93N. Hischier51+42 With days left in the NHL regular season, the race for the Hart Trophy — the league’s MVP award — is as wide-open as it’s been in years. The defending winner, Edmonton’s Connor McDavid, once again leads the league in scoring … but his team will miss the playoffs. Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov ranks second, but he cooled off after a red-hot start (and he has to share credit/votes with teammate Steven Stamkos anyway). The leading goal-scorer, three-time MVP Alex Ovechkin of the Capitals, doesn’t even crack the top 10 in total points. And while Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon is the betting favorite for MVP, he’s hardly a lock at only fifth in points and 10th in goals.Right into the middle of this fracas has skated New Jersey Devils left wing Taylor Hall, who has been scorching hot in the second half of the season and is seemingly willing New Jersey back into relevance. Hall, who earlier this year had a franchise-record 26-game point streak, now has seven goals and 15 points in his last seven games, including this short-handed game-winner Sunday against the Canadiens:The Hall-for-MVP case mainly rests in just how vital he’s been to the Devils’ offense this season. Hall has either scored or assisted on 39 percent of New Jersey’s goals, almost single-handedly dragging the team to its current 12th-place ranking in scoring. The Devils’ second-leading scorer, 19-year-old NHL rookie Nico Hischier, has notched 51 points on the season — 42 fewer than Hall’s team-leading tally.1For good measure, Hall has had a hand in nearly half of Hischier’s points this season. Not only is that easily the biggest gap in the NHL this year (No. 2 is the 35-point gulf between McDavid and Leon Draisaitl), it’s the biggest the league has seen in a decade and the 30th-biggest difference between a team’s leading scorer and runner-up in a season since 1950-51: 251999PITJ. Jagr127M. Straka83+44

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