Steven Stamkos is a 2012 Hart Trophy finalist

In the Tampa Bay Lightning's 19 years of NHL play, there have been two previous efforts by a Bolts player which has garnered the attention of the powers-that-be and earned nominations for the league's Most Valuable Player award, the Hart Trophy.

Those two prior nominations - coming in 2004 and 2011, respectively - went to the same wunderkind that makes this team thrive: Mr. Martin St. Louis. Marty defied odds by even being nominated for the award in the first place (coming into the NHL as an undrafted free agent signing). Winning the honor in 2004 was even more odds-defying. His nomination last season was a testament of his value on the overachieving Lightning team of 2010-11.

Today, the Lightning celebrate their third ever nomination for the award, and the second player on the Lightning roster ever to be nominated for the award.

Steven Stamkos has been recognized by the Pro Hockey Writers Association, being named a finalist for the 2012 Hart Trophy. He's in the running against Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers for the award.

Snap reactions to Stamkos getting the nomination seem to be, "Well, wait, what bout Claude Giroux?!" Giroux had an incredible season all his own with the Philadelphia Flyers - 28 goals, 65 assists, 95 points in 77 games. Compare that to Stamkos' 60 goals, 37 assists and 97 points in 82 games, and it's a tossup. You'll have to ask Pro Hockey Writers how they voted in order to find out why Stamkos over Giroux (if you think it isn't deserved, that is).

Would the Flyers have made the playoffs without Giroux? The Lightning didn't make the playoffs with Stamkos - but they were still within spitting distance of it with more and more team adversity piling up on the club.. Maybe that factored in on voters opinions?

Whatever the case, this is likely Malkin's award to lose, but it's an incredible honor none-the-less for Stamkos to be recognized like this.

The NHL Awards ceremony will be in Las Vegas in June.

An infographic on Stamkos' season, by way of the team, is below the jump.

Steven Stamkos' 60-Goal Season - An infographic by the team at