The National Hockey League's end of season awards are going to be a little strange this season given the way that everything has played out and given the way things may still play out in the coming months. The awards are likely a long time away but thankfully NHL players now find themselves with a ton of free time on their hands and one of those players, Winnipeg Jets forward Mark Scheifele, has written about what would be his choices for the end of season awards known during his time off.
Although Scheifele went over a number of the awards in his piece of the Player's Tribune this week it was his pick for the National Hockey League's most valuable player that truly stood out to me. The Hart Memorial Trophy is arguably the most prestigious individual award handed out each and ever season and this season had a number of contenders making a strong case for themselves. Both Edmonton Oilers forwards Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl tore up the league with McDavid collecting 97 points and Draisaitl recording a staggering 110 points, while Boston Bruins forward David Pastrnak was on a tear of his own with 48 goals already on the season making him the NHL's leading goal scorer. Those all would be picks worth considering and Scheifele praised each of those men while making his pick, but none of them received the award.
No instead Scheifele picked Buffalo Sabres star forward Jack Eichel as his NHL MVP:
But, like I said, the most valuable player to his team? Jack Eichel.
He’s 23 years old, he’s got 337 points in 354 games and, believe me, he gets the toughest assignments every night. Whenever we play Buffalo, he’s the first guy we look to try to nullify. He’s a monster in the offensive end and an absolute pain to play against when you’re trying to score. He can do it all. He’s one of the most complete forwards in the game. And he doesn’t take a shift off. I’ve been watching a lot of the Sabres this year whenever I get the time because of how dominant he is when he’s on the ice. Every time he steps out there he seems like he’s just got another gear over everyone else. To do that night in and night out? That’s impressive.
Scheifele credits Eichel for never taking a shift off, a feat that has clearly impressed him over the years. Given the situation that Eichel has been placed in with the Buffalo Sabres it becomes all the more impressive. We have seen several NHL veterans speak poorly of their time in Buffalo, expressing how the constant losing wore on them mentally, but the Sabres captain has thus far managed to shoulder that burden without seemingly losing motivation to play or excel.
Although Eichel is no doubt a star player the pick came as a surprise to me given some of the potential candidates that we have for the Hart this year. Do you agree with Scheifele's choice? If not Eichel who would you award the Hart to?