Nikita Kucherov sits at the top of the NHL in points and he’s been there since December. But is he the best player in the league this season?
One does not necessarily mean the other, nor does either translate to the Hart Trophy, annually given to the league’s most valuable player. None of last year’s three finalists were in the top four in scoring.
The Professional Hockey Writers Association, which votes on the Hart Trophy, is eyeing Kucherov for the honor, however. He won the mid-season ballot.
In Saturday’s all-star game, Kucherov produced three shots on goal, but failed to point in the Atlantic Division’s 7-4 loss to the Metropolitan Division. That exhibition performance, however, did nothing to dent Jon Cooper’s opinion of Kucherov’s season.
“Do I believe he is one of the best, if not the best player on the planet right now?” the Lightning coach said. “I truly do believe that.”
He then followed that up by saying there are a handful of players in that debate and people will always pull for their own players. But those debates are one of the fun things about sports.
Still, some opponents definitely see Kucherov as a league elite. When Nashville defenseman Roman Josi ran down the list of Lightning assets, he singled out one individual player: Kucherov. Even on the best team in the league, what Kucherov is doing this season stands above.