Everyone in the hockey world would acknowledge it’s time to start giving Henrik Sedin some love when it comes to consideration for the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s most valuable player.
This corner would agree. Henrik certainly merits consideration to become the second Swedish player in NHL history to win the league’s top individual honor.
Yes, he deserves to be included in the conversation. No, in my mind, he doesn’t deserve to win it.
And the reason I will give is the same reason I stand behind the notion that Peter Forsberg is overrated – too many assists and not enough goals. When we ranked Brett Hull 22nd and Forsberg 24th in our top 60 players since 1967 a few years back, some expressed outrage we could rank Hull ahead of Forsberg.
I would counter that argument by saying Hull finished his career with 741 goals, which puts him third on the all-time list and more than 100 goals ahead of the highest active goal scoring leader, so he’s going to be there for a long time. Forsberg scored 249 goals and isn’t even within shouting distance of the top 100. Hull has almost 500 career goals – that’s almost a Hall of Fame career worth of goals – more than Forsberg.
End of discussion.
The problem with assists is you can look at the totals and never really know how much that player had to do with goals actually being scored. With goals, whether it’s an empty-netter, tip-in or a spectacular deke on a breakaway, there is tangible evidence the player in question was pivotal to the play.
Take Henrik Sedin for example. He has an impressive 75 assists this season, but more than half (39) of them are second assists. How many of those were plays in which he played a pivotal role and on how many did he simply dish the puck off to a teammate who made the primary pass to the goal-scorer?
Without going back and looking at the tape of each of his assists, there’s no way of telling.
But we do know Sidney Crosby has so far put the puck directly into the back of the net a total of 47 times this season, 18 more times than Sedin. We also know Crosby has scored eight times in the shootout. And of those eight goals, four of them have been game-winners. Curiously, Canucks coach Alain Vigneault hasn’t seen fit to use either Henrik or Daniel Sedin even once in the shootout this season.
We also know that, including shootout markers, Crosby has 32 goals and 24 assists that either put his team into a tie or ahead in the game. Alex Ovechkin’s totals in that situation are 24 goals, 26 assists, while Henrik Sedin’s are just 11 goals and 34 assists.
What it comes down to is how much weight you give goals and how much you give assists. I’m of the opinion that, unlike minor hockey, goals and assists are not equal because you can have a goal without an assist, but you can’t have an assist without a goal.
Henrik Sedin has been very good – at times brilliant – for a Canucks team that has surprised many with its ability to create offense this season.
But he’s still not getting my vote for the Hart Trophy.
(Cue the hate mail.)
Ken Campbell, author of the book Habs Heroes, is a senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog will appear Wednesdays and Fridays and his column, Campbell's Cuts, appears Mondays.
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