The NHL's prestigious Hart Trophy is awarded yearly to the MVP of the league. Not to be confused with the Art Ross Trophy, which is awarded to the player with the highest point total of the season. The Hart winner usually ends up being the same guy. This year is a little different, as the race for the most points is hotly contested, and each of the players are in varying situations with their respective teams as the season winds down.

Here's a look at the likely finalists to be this year's MVP in the NHL.

Conor McDavid

The reigning MVP, Conor McDavid has surpassed 100 points for the second season in a row. That alone would make you think he is a lock to repeat as MVP, but not so fast.

Last year, McDavid was the catalyst that led the Edmonton Oilers back to the playoffs [VIDEO] for the first time in years. Without him, the team would have been dead in the water and he clearly showed why he deserved to be the MVP.

This year, though, McDavid has played great, but the team has not [VIDEO]. Back at the bottom of the league, the team will miss the playoffs this year. It is hard to say someone is the MVP of the league when they don't reach the playoffs. This fault lies more with the rest of the team, but it may cost McDavid in the end.

Nikita Kucherov

After being snubbed for McDavid last season, Nikita Kucherov is having an even better season this year. He is approaching the 100 point total and showing that even with Steven Stamkos healthy, it's Kucherov who is the real MVP of the team.

His consistent scoring, and the fact that his Tampa Bay Lightning are among the top teams in the league and a Stanley Cup favorite, make Kucherov the potential front-runner for this year's Hart Trophy. Barring a sudden surge by McDavid, Kucherov is likley to be the favorite when the finalists are announced for the award.

Nathan MacKinnon

Did anyone tell Nathan MacKinnon before the season that this was a rebuilding year in Colorado? After trading Matt Duchene at the beginning of the season, many expected another dismal performance from the Avalanche. MacKinnon was having none of it as the former first overall draft pick showed why he was a consensus number one when he entered the league. Having his best season of his young career, MacKinnon has close to 100 points and his team is on the verge of snagging one of the final playoff spots remaining. If Colorado does make the playoffs, expect a heavy campaign to be made for MacKinnon being the league's MVP.