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NHL Hart Trophy voters don't think Ilya Kovalchuk is worth the money

I wouldn't give Hart Trophy voting all that much credence, but given that the very same reporters and columnists who voted for the awards are also telling me that Ilya Kovalchuk is the 'prize of free agency', I thought we should look at how they've voted for the NHL's MVP since the lockout:


Players Votes Players Votes Players Votes Players Votes
Ovechkin 3521 Parise 264 Briere 33 St. Louis 14
Crosby 2061 Alfredsson 127 Brind'Amour 33 Drury 14
Thornton 1481 E. Staal 125 Stamkos 28 Nash 13
Malkin 1446 Niedermayer 113 Zetterberg 24 Gaborik 13
Jagr 977 Kovalev 94 Carter 19 Forsberg 11
H. Sedin 894 Chara 90 Gionta 18 Getzlaf 11
Iginla 594 Heatley 61 Green 18 Phaneuf 7
Datsyuk 450 Selanne 54 Marleau 17 Kovalchuk 6
Lidstrom 414 Sakic 44 Kane 17 Kariya 6
Lecavalier 364 Hossa 38 Cheechoo 16 Shanahan 5


During a period where he scored 230 goals, only a handful of voters thought that Kovalchuk was one of the top five players in the league in any given season.  The average salary for the players in this group who are are out of their entry-level period but under 35 and have contracts for next season is $7.1M, which roughly corresponds to being a 3-win player.  (The bottom 20 players receiving votes averaged $6.2M.)

It's not clear that Kovalchuk is a 3-win player.  He's in the ballpark, but you, the voters, took the under, estimating his value at $6.4M - 2.5 wins - for the 39th-highest salary overall in the league.  Would Ilya Kovalchuk sign a contract that would pay him over $1M less than he made this season?  I'd assume he wants to be making $8M or more. 

So according to both you and the Hart voters, any team that acquires Kovalchuk will be overpaying for him, whether it's a long-term deal or a very expensive one-year contract.  Kovalchuk's PP talent and shooting skill make him a very good player, and he's the free agent who can make the single-largest improvement in your team, but in a world ruled by the salary cap, he is decidedly not 'the prize of free agency.'