By Glenn Kaplan, Columnist
Entering the NHL All-Star Break, the Calgary Flames sit atop the Western Conference Standings with a 33-13-5 record with 71 points. They are only five points behind the Tampa Bay Lightning for the top record in the NHL. I thought Calgary was going to be a playoff team this season, but I didn’t think they were going to be this good.
Because of how good the Flames have been in the first-half of the season, left winger Johnny Gaudreau should be the favorite to win the Hart Trophy for the first time in his career. He has scored 29 goals and recorded 44 assists in just 51 games so far this season. His plus/minus is 20.
Gaudreau is third in the NHL in points scored with 73. Right wingers Mikko Rantanen of the Colorado Avalanche and Nikita Kucherov of the Tampa Bay Lightning are in second and first with 74 and 78 points, respectively.
Rantanen won’t be one of the favorites to win the Hart Trophy because he isn’t even the best player on his own team. Center Nathan MacKinnon is the better player.
As for Kucherov, he has a ton of talent on his team and if you took him off the Lightning, they would still have key players like centers Steven Stamkos and J.T. Miller along with goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy.
The Flames would still be competitive without Gaudreau, but they wouldn’t be a true Stanley Cup contending team without him. He is only 5’9”, but his speed and skill are among the best in the NHL.
Gaudreau represented Calgary in the NHL All-Star Game. He should surpass his 84-point total from last season. Gaudreau could very well record between 110-125 points by the end of the season. If he keeps this up, he should win the MVP award.