The case for Sidney Crosby for the Hart Trophy

Crosby2.jpgAs we near the end of the season, we’re going to take a look at
who we think should be three finalists for the Hart, Norris and Calder
Trophies, making arguments for each. We start with the Hart
Trophy, given to the NHL’s Most Valuable Player. Next up: Sidney
Crosby.

Why he deserves it: The player many
(well, perhaps half of you) consider the best player in the NHL is in
the midst of the best season of his career after finding that putting
the puck on net more will result in more goals. Imagine that. He’s
leading the NHL with 49 goals and is third in the league with 104 points
and with the Pittsburgh Penguins fighting through injuries has become
more vital to his team than ever before. Last season Crosby showed us
just how great a playmaker he is; this season we’re learning that he is
one hell of a goal scorer as well. As if we didn’t already know it, but
this season he’s hammered the point home.

Why he doesn’t
deserve it:
I originally wasn’t going to list Crosby as a
finalist, since I wanted just three for each trophy. But I figured that
including Ovechkin and not having Crosby in the discussion would be
near-blasphemy. All the same, I’m not certain that Crosby deserves the
Hart as much as Ryan Miller or Henrik Sedin. He’s not as dominant night
after night as they are, and with the Penguins struggling with
consistency lately it’s tough to pinpoint exactly how much the impact of
their struggles will hurt him. What will certainly play against Crosby
is his plus-13, significantly dwarfed by the incredible number put up by
Ovechking and Sedin.

Why he’ll get it: Crosby is
still evolving as a hockey player and this season he showed that he can
certainly take a step in a new direction do what is needed to help his
team succeed. He’s the captain of the Stanley Cup defending Penguins,
and there’s a good chance he finishes with the most goals in the NHL.

Why
he won’t get it:
Simply because no matter how great a season
he’s had, it hasn’t been anywhere near as great or impressive as the
others’. The way he’s struggled to score with Evgeni Malkin in the
lineup might also play against him.

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    Leafs avoid arbitration again, sign Corrado to one year, $600K deal

    VANCOUVER, BC - FEBRUARY 13: Frank Corrado #20 of the Toronto Maple Leafs shoots the puck in NHL action against the Vancouver Canucks on February, 13, 2016 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
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    Over the weekend, reports suggested that Toronto and RFA blueliner Frank Corrado were close to agreeing to a new contract.

    On Monday, the two sides sealed the deal.

    The Leafs announced they signed Corrado to a one-year contract, with Sportsnet reporting it to be a $600,00 pact, of the one-way variety.

    Corrado, 23, was scheduled to go to arbitration tomorrow. His ask was $900,000, while the Leafs countered with a $625,000 figure on a two-way deal, and $575,000 on a one-way.

    So Toronto was nearly spot-on with its valuation.

    The former Canucks draftee took a while to make his Leafs debut last season — he sat 28 games after they claimed him off waivers — but when he did get into the lineup, he fared reasonably well. Corrado finished with a goal and six points in 39 games, averaging 14:27 TOI per game.

    This marks the second player Toronto avoided going to arbitration with. Prior to signing Corrado, the Leafs inked center Peter Holland to a one-year, $1.3 million deal.

    Flyers need Schenn to build on career year

    PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 22:  Brayden Schenn #10 of the Philadelphia Flyers celebrates his goal in the second period against the New York Rangers on April 7, 2015 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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    The Philadelphia Flyers are hoping Brayden Schenn hasn’t finished improving. The former fifth overall draft pick signed a four-year, $20.5 million contract today, after posting career highs in goals (26) and assists (33) in 2015-16.

    It took a few years for Schenn, 24, to start justifying his draft position. John Tavares, Victor Hedman, Matt Duchene, and Evander Kane were selected with the first four picks that year. Oliver Ekman-Larsson was taken sixth overall.

    So there was pressure.

    “I think sometimes when you draft a player top five you tend to think he’s going to develop a little quicker than other guys,” Flyers GM Ron Hextall said Monday, per Flyzette. “When you look at Brayden, has he been a fast developer? I would say probably no. Has he been a slow developer? I would say probably no. He’s probably been average.

    “The good thing is he’s gotten better every year and he’s a hard worker. He’s starting to figure out the intricacies of the game. He obviously had his best year to this point so hopefully he continues to build on that.”

    Hextall reportedly danced around a question about Schenn being part of the “core” group, so there’s still some proving to be done. The Flyers have already committed long-term to forwards Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, and Sean Couturier. Wayne Simmonds and Michael Raffl have three years left on their deals, and Dale Weise signed a four-year agreement on July 1.

    As for Schenn, he knows he needs to justify the Flyers’ trust in his ongoing development.

    “I feel like I keep getting better and better,” he said. “I expect nothing else next year.”

    Report: If the Sabres can sign Vesey, they could be more willing to trade Kane

    MONTREAL, QC - FEBRUARY 03:  Evander Kane #9 of the Buffalo Sabres speaks with referee Kevin Pollock #33 during the NHL game against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre on February 3, 2016 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  The Buffalo Sabres defeated the Montreal Canadiens 4-2.  (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
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    If the Buffalo Sabres can sign Jimmy Vesey, they may be more willing to trade winger Evander Kane.

    That’s what TSN 1040 (Vancouver) radio host Matt Sekeres has been hearing, and what he’s hearing does make a lot of sense.

    Kane, whose off-ice issues are once again making headlines, has two years left on his contract before he can become an unrestricted free agent. He plays the same position as Vesey, 23, who’s currently Buffalo property but can sign with any team he chooses on Aug. 15.

    Even if the Sabres can’t convince Vesey to join them, Kane could still be traded. GM Tim Murray has already conceded that his patience is wearing thin with the 24-year-old that he acquired from Winnipeg not long ago. Alex Nylander, drafted eighth overall in June, plays the same position as Kane, and Murray has said it’s possible the teenager could make the jump to the NHL next season.

    Buffalo, Boston and Toronto have generally been considered the favorites to land Vesey. Chicago and Pittsburgh have also been mentioned.

    Related: Cue the Kane-to-Vancouver speculation

    Leafs avoid arbitration with Peter Holland

    TORONTO, ON - APRIL 11: Peter Holland #24 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates up the ice during NHL action against the Montreal Canadiens at the Air Canada Centre April 11, 2015 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)
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    The Toronto Maple Leafs won’t require arbitration with forward Peter Holland. They’ve signed the 25-year-old to a one-year deal worth a reported $1.3 million.

    Holland had a hearing scheduled for today. Last week, the Leafs sent a message by putting him on waivers, which he cleared.

    Holland had nine goals and 18 assists in 65 games last season. With him signed, the Leafs have only defensemen Frank Corrado and Martin Marincin as restricted free agents. Corrado has an arbitration hearing scheduled for tomorrow; Marincin’s is next Tuesday.

    Related: Corrado and Leafs aren’t that far apart