Theodore was 30-24-10 with a 2.11 goals-against average, and a league-leading .931 save percentage. Dominik Hasek is the only other goalie to capture the Hart since 1962, winning it in 1997 and '98.
The other Hart Trophy finalists are former Canadiens goalie Patrick Roy of the Colorado Avalanche and Calgary Flames right wing Jarome Iginla, who already has been named the Lester B. Pearson Award winner by his peers as the Most Outstanding Player during the regular season.
The 36-year-old Roy, already headed to the Hall of Fame, turned in the finest season of his 17-year career with an NHL-best nine shutouts, a 1.94 GAA and a .925 save percentage.
Iginla, 24, who becomes a restricted free agent on July 1, also has won the Maurice Richard and Art Ross trophies after leading the league with 52 goals and 96 points.
He accounted for more than 25 percent of Calgary's goals and captured a gold medal with Canada at the Salt Lake City Olympics.
Lidstrom is seeking his second straight nod as the NHL's top defenseman and would add that hardware to his third Stanley Cup and first Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP of the postseason.
Chelios, 40, is the favorite for a fourth Norris Trophy after leading the league with a plus-40 rating.
"I don't mind Cheli winning it, maybe split it with him," said Lidstrom. "But Rob Blake had a tremendous season as well."
Blake, whose Avalanche lost to the Red Wings in the Western Conference finals, is the other finalist for the Norris Trophy, which would be his second.
Theodore and Roy also are nominated for the Vezina Trophy as top goalie, joining Sean Burke of the Phoenix Coyotes. Burke helped the Coyotes secure an unlikely playoff berth with 33 wins, a career-best 2.29 GAA and five shutouts.
Kovalchuk appeared a lock for the award before suffering a season-ending dislocated shoulder on March 10. He likely will lose out to Heatley, who led all rookies in scoring with 26 goals and 41 assists.
Former winners Michael Peca of the New York Islanders and Jere Lehtinen of the Dallas Stars are finalists for the Selke Trophy as top defensive forward along with first-time nominee Craig Conroy of the Flames.
Francis, former teammate Kevin Dineen of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Canadiens captain Saku Koivu are nominated for the Masterton Trophy, which goes to the player who best exemplifies perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.
Dineen has battled Crohn's Disease, an intestinal ailment, for much of his career, while Koivu made an emotional return late in the season after undergoing treatment for cancer.
Bob Francis of the Coyotes, Robbie Ftorek of the Boston Bruins and Brian Sutter of the Chicago Blackhawks are nominated for the Adams Award as Coach of the Year, an honor Sutter won in 1991 with the St. Louis Blues.
The awards ceremony at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre continues a weekend of events that culminates Saturday with the NHL draft at the Air Canada Centre.