Boston Bruins Forward Brad Marchand is a Hart Trophy Contender This Season
Brad Marchand has had an incredible year and a half. From setting career-highs in goals and points to representing Canada twice at the World Championships and the World Cup of Hockey, Marchand has proven to be one of the best hockey players in the entire world. He was also named to the 2017 NHL All-Star game. His play earned him a brand new contract worth $49 million that will keep Marchand in Boston through the 2024-25 season. His next accomplishment, however, could be winning the Hart Trophy – awarded annually to the NHL’s Most Valuable Player.
While he’s always been known as an offensive threat, Marchand’s devious tactics and pest-like play on the ice has always overshadowed his ability. That isn’t to say that Marchand has completely abandoned his old habits, but his recent exposure has shown the rest of the hockey world that Marchand is so much more than cheap shots and chirping.
With his impressive season this year, he’s certainly shown the world that he’s not a flash in the pan. His career season last year has already been blown away this year, and Marchand still has 18 games in the regular season to build upon it.
An Elite Offensive Talent
As mentioned, Marchand sent some career-highs last season. Playing in 77 games, he scored 37 goals and 60 points to beat out his previous career-highs of 28 goals and 55 points in his sophomore season in 2011-12. This year, Marchand has shown that the 2015-16 season wasn’t a fluke. He wasn’t lucky all season, and he wasn’t simply a one-hit-wonder. For anyone who has watched Marchand over the years, it’s been clear that he’s a legitimate goal scorer.
Marchand has never scored less than 21 goals in a full season. The only time he scored less than 20 came during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season when he scored 18 goals and 36 points in 45 games. Those totals prorate to 33 goals and 66 points over a full 82-game season. Still, his points have never quite matched his goal totals. Marchand did score 50 points twice in his career prior to the 2015-16 season, but also managed just 41 points and 42 points in his other two full seasons. It is important to note, however, that Marchand was skating in a second-line role at the time with very limited, and often zero power play opportunities. Last season, however, Marchand proved to be an all-around point scorer while not sacrificing his goal total.
Over a Point-Per-Game Pace
This season, Marchand has already set career-highs in goals and points and is scoring over a point-per-game. His 29 goals rank him just five spots back of the league-leading 34 goals scored by Sidney Crosby. Additionally, his points rank fourth in the league behind just Connor McDavid (72), Crosby (69) and Patrick Kane (68). His totals put him on pace for a full 82-game season with 37 goals and 86 points. That would match Marchand’s career-high in goals set last season while tacking on an additional 26 points to his career-high in points.
His offense is elite, but that just scratches the surface on why Marchand should be considered for the Hart Trophy.
Two-Way Ability Just as Impressive as His Offense
Analytically, Marchand is sound. When looking at his Corsi-for percentage (CF%), Fenwick-for percentage (FF%) and shot for percentage (SF%) Marchand ranks second in each among forwards who have skated for at least 500 minutes this season. The only player to rank higher than Marchand? That would be his linemate, Patrice Bergeron.
Throughout his career, Marchand has shown that he is one of the best two-way players on the planet. Whether it be scoring timely goals or preventing opportunities, Marchand can do it all. As such, he’s been a prominent player for the Bruins in five-on-five play, as well as shorthanded and has been a more consistent face on the team’s power play than he has in years past.
Of course, there are instances where Marchand’s defensive ability bleeds into his offense as well. Due to his strong defensive play and awareness, Marchand is a mainstay on the Bruins penalty kill. As such, he’s been able to score some timely goals while shorthanded in his career.
Marchand has proven to be one of the best short-handed goal scorers in the league in his career. He’s currently tied for first in short-handed goals with three on the season and has scored more goals shorthanded than any other player since Marchand entered the league in 2010.
Perhaps none of his short-handed goals have shown such great individual effort as this one against the Los Angeles Kings in 2014.
Not only did Marchand score the goal on an unbelievable individual effort, he did so against some of the league’s best. Notice the players that Marchand takes on in the video – Selke Trophy winner Anze Kopitar, Norris Trophy winner Drew Doughty, Conn Smythe winner Jonathan Quick and one of the Hart Trophy favorites this season, Jeff Carter.
Marchand has made a name for himself as one of the best players in all situations – but his shorthanded play might be the most impressive. At the very least, it’s the most fun to watch.
No goal may have been bigger for Marchand while down a man, however, than his goal at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey in the final game of the tournament.
With the game tied at one and Canada holding a 1-0 series lead, the Canadian squad was set to kill off a penalty with less than a minute to go. For most teams, the thought process would be to play for overtime. While that’s a good game plan, the game must still be played with eyes on the opportunities as they present themselves. For Canada, Marchand was able to clinch the World Cup by simply doing what he does better than anybody else.
A Case to be Made
Whether Marchand wins the Hart Trophy or not, he deserves to be in the conversation. The NHL has a multitude of talented players who all deserve to be in contention for the award. Be it McDavid for his impressive sophomore year, Crosby for what he’s done in a short season, Brent Burns, Jeff Carter or even a goaltender like Braden Holtby or Devan Dubnyk, Marchand has some legitimate competition. It would be a gross misjustice, however, if Marchand doesn’t receive votes to put him in contention for the league’s Most Valuable Player this season.
At the end of the day, Marchand is doing pretty well for himself. A Stanley Cup champion with a huge contract and teammates that love him. The ultimate goal for Marchand will continue to be another Stanley Cup ring. Still, any player that says the Hart Trophy wouldn’t mean a lot to them is lying. Marchand deserves to be considered, and while he makes his case for the trophy while dominating the league each and every game, he and the Boston Bruins will make their push for the Stanley Cup playoffs.