There was no shocking upset in this week’s Seattle Sidelines poll. It’s Carter Hart in a landslide.
The Everett Silvertips are in the midst of their Christmas break, having completed the first half of their season with a 21-13-1-1 record. Therefore, this week’s poll asked readers to vote on who they thought was Everett’s first-half MVP. Here are the results:
POLL: Who was the Silvertips’ MVP over the first half of the season? Full context here: https://t.co/s7clXVNbo5
— Nick Patterson (@NickHPatterson) December 18, 2017
Add the two together and Hart, Everett’s No. 1 goaltender, ran away with the vote with 76 percent. Leading scorer Patrick Bajkov came in a distant second at 12 percent, while top defenseman Kevin Davis and the “Other” option both brought in 6 percent.
This is probably the least surprising outcome of any poll posted this year. Hart is in the midst of arguably the best season ever produced by a WHL goaltender. His 1.32 goals against average would break the league’s single-season record. His .961 save percentage is more than 20 percentage points better than anyone since 1996-97, which is the earliest for which stats are readily available. He’s well on his way to winning his third straight Del Wilson Trophy as the WHL’s Goaltender of the Year — if he wins he’ll become the first ever three-time winner of the award — and he has to be a leading candidate for the Four Broncos Trophy as the league’s Player of the Year.
However, the Silvertips won’t have Hart’s services when the WHL resumes play next Wednesday. That’s because Hart is slated to backstop Team Canada at the 2018 World Junior Hockey Championships in Buffalo. As a result, Everett is unlikely to see Hart again until after the WHL’s Jan. 10 trade deadline.
It’ll be interesting to see how things transpire between now and then. Everett moved into in first place in both the U.S. Division and Western Conference at the break, but we’ll see if the Tips can maintain their momentum without Hart. So far it’s been so good, as the Tips went 2-1 in their three-in-three weekend just prior to the break, with 16-year-old back-up goaltender Dustin Wolf putting up numbers (2.00 goals against average, .942 save percentage) that would put him second in the league in both categories if he had played enough to qualify. Will he be able to continue his strong play and hold the fort until Hart comes back?
And will Hart be back at all? Silvertips general manager Garry Davidson said he has no plans of trading Hart, and that his intention is to add rather than subtract prior to the deadline. However, with the WHL being short on goaltending this year, no doubt other GMs (Regina’s John Paddock, anyone?) will be testing Davidson’s resolve. It’s still possible Davidson will be presented with a package that’s too good to be refused.