Why Carey Price Is A Hart Trophy Candidate

The Hart Memorial Trophy goes to the player considered to be the most valuable to his team. Even though it’s been around for 90 years, it’s only been awarded to 54 players, so if you’re one of the guys fortunate enough to receive it, it goes without saying that you had a special season.

While goaltenders are often the most valuable players on their teams, history shows that it’s really difficult to win the Hart Memorial Trophy playing in between the pipes. Only six goaltenders have ever won the award including: Roy Worters, Chuck Rayner, Al Rollins, Jacques Plante, Dominik Hasek (two years in a row) and Jose Theodore.

Although it’s been more than a decade since a tender claimed the award, Montreal Canadiens net minder Carey Price has a shot at it, and if he wins it, he would be the second net minder in a row from the Habs organization to accomplish the feat. To really break it down a little bit, let’s compare some of the numbers that the two goaltenders managed to put up during their spectacular respective campaigns.

First we look at Carey Price. Through 49 games so far this season he has a goals against average of 2.03 and a sparkling save percentage of 932. If both numbers stand up for the rest of the year, they would be career highs for Price. Granted there are still a lot of games to go, but it’s clear that he’s the biggest reason for the team’s success this season, helping Montreal currently maintain the number two spot in the Eastern Conference.

There’s a good chance that he surpasses his career high of 38 wins, given that he already has 29 at the moment, and if not for an injury suffered against the New York Rangers in the playoffs last spring, Price could have easily led the Canadiens to the Stanley Cup Finals.

Now let’s look at Jose Theodore. He never managed to win more than six playoff games in a given postseason run, but during the 2001-2002 regular season, he was unbeatable in the crease. Theodore’s save percentage that year was .931 and his goals against average stood at 2.11. Those stats are quite impressive, but in comparison to Price, Theodore managed only 30 wins that season, a mark the Habs’ present day goalie will no doubt crush given that we’re only a short time removed from the All-Star game in Columbus.

Whether or not Carey Price becomes the seventh goalie in NHL history to win the award remains to be seen, but if Jose Theodore’s 2001-02 season is the measuring stick for what a Hart Memorial Trophy winning goaltender needs to do in order to claim it, it looks like Mr. Price is on the right track. 

The one man who could get in his way is Pekka Rinne whose GAA is 0.01 better and he also has one more win but Price currently has the edge by 0.003 when it comes to save percentage. If the Hart Memorial Trophy was given out today, it's safe to say that one of these two men would be the seventh goaltender to win the trophy, but there's still about 30 games to go and things could change.