Which player is the most surprising newcomer to the Hart Trophy discussion?

Pierre LeBrun: For most of this season, the Hart Trophy derby was about three players: Brent Burns, Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid. Since then, Patrick Kane, Nicklas Backstrom, Brad Marchand and Nikita Kucherov have thrown their hat in the ring, and Marchand in particular is charging hard. On many nights, he carries a Boston Bruins team that isn't otherwise particularly deep.

But a guy who also deserves more discussion is Erik Karlsson. The Ottawa Senators continue to surprise everyone, and their two-time Norris Trophy winner is the main reason. I would argue that Karlsson's game has become more well-rounded this season under first-year Senators head coach Guy Boucher. A defenseman hasn't won the Hart Trophy since the St. Louis Blues' Chris Pronger did so in 2000. But we have two excellent blueline candidates this season in Burns and Karlsson.

Scott Burnside: Let's just say, with less than a month to go in the regular season, that the field of potential Hart Trophy candidates seems to be growing by the day. You have to look seriously at Kucherov. In the absence of captain Steven Stamkos -- and with Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman unloading key personnel Ben Bishop, Valtteri Filppula and Brian Boyle -- the fact that Kucherov and his team are tied for the second wild-card spot is one of the season's biggest (potential) comeback stories.