With just one week before puck drop, NHL players prepare for what’s sure to be another action-packed season. Each pre-season presents a number of questions to be answered. One of this year’s biggest being: Can Connor McDavid be outdone? After such a strong 2016-2017 campaign, it would seem that McDavid could be the first back-to-back Hart winner in nearly a decade. However, with so many other strong performers on this list, it’s far from locked down.


  1. Connor McDavid (+140): Edmonton’s Wonder Boy leads the pack at +140. Coming off last year’s tally of 30 goals and 70 assists (100 points), it’s hard to deny the 20-year-old his well-deserved top spot.


  1. Sidney Crosby (+275): The second spot goes to the top man from the defending champions, Sidney Crosby. Crosby has already racked up an impressive three Stanley Cups, two Hart trophies as well as numerous other awards during his career, all with the Pittsburg Penguins. It’s doubtful that this pure goal scorer is ready to step down and let the new kids take over.


  1. Auston Matthews (+850): The first Leaf to bring home any serious hardware in almost a quarter century, Matthews appears to be the change Toronto fans have been waiting for. The second 20-year-old on this list was also tied for second in scoring last year with an impressive 40 goals to his name, earning himself a well-deserved Calder Trophy in the process. If he can build on his early success, he’s well on his way to becoming one of the league’s top players.


  1. Alex Ovechkin (+950): It’s hard to put together a top five list without including Alex the Great. Being the only player in the league to win three Hart Trophies since Mario Lemieux did it over twenty years ago is no small feat. Despite seeing a slow decline in point production over the last three seasons, Ovechkin’s impact on the ice remains as impressive as it’s ever been. However, the big question surrounding the Russian star will be how he reacts to the NHL’s absence from the upcoming Olympics on his home soil.


  1. Patrick Kane (+1400): The tenacious winger has seen his production rise over the last two seasons and is gunning to keep that momentum moving in the right direction. This upcoming season could prove more of a challenge, however, as he’ll be without his line mate Artemi Panarin. This should be a great opportunity to prove he’s truly among the league’s best.


One thing about the 2017-2018 Hart Trophy race that’s certain is, no matter which of these superstars you bet on, it’s going to be a hard-fought battle of the Titans for the mantle of the NHL’s best of the best.


*Odds as of September 27, 2017