The Hart Trophy race is wide open with three of the NHL’s biggest stars making it to the final three.
auston matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs became the first player in the league to score 60 goals since Steven Stammos of the Tampa Bay Lightning did so in 2011-12 and scored goals at a rate per game (0.82) not seen since Mario Lemieux of the Pittsburgh Penguins scored 35 goals in 43 games (0.81) in 2000-01.
Connor McDavid is the current Hart Trophy winner after also winning this award in 2016-17. He has won the Ted Lindsay Award (player-voted Most Outstanding Player) three times in his first six seasons and the Art Ross Trophy (leading scorer) four times, including this season. In what was the Edmonton Oilers center’s most productive season to date, he had career bests in goals (44), assists (79), points (123), power-play points (44), overtime goals (four) and shots (314). ).
Igor Shesterkin of the New York Rangers dominated almost every time he started. The 26-year-old Russian-born goalie, in his third season in the NHL, set career highs across the board and posted a .935 save percentage. He ranks third all-time in the NHL regular season, among goaltenders who played 50 games or more, behind Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins in 2010-11 (.938) and Dominik Hasek of the Buffalo Sabers in 1998-99 (.937). ).
But who was voted the 2021-22 NHL Most Valuable Player by the Professional Hockey Writers Association? We’ll find out when the winner is announced during the 2022 NHL Awards in Tampa on Tuesday (7 p.m. one of the finalists should win.
auston matthewsThe Toronto Maple Leaves
It would be easy to defend any of the three Hart Trophy finalists this season. McDavid was his usual self, which is to say almost unbelievable, and Shesterkin almost single-handedly pushed the New York Rangers at least a year ahead of their expected timeline. But Matthew’s? He scored 60 goals, which is not only a brilliant feat that hasn’t been accomplished in the NHL in a decade, but it’s the most scored by an American-born player in league history. Matthews finished the season with 106 points in 73 games, adding 46 assists to his 60 goals to win the Rocket Richard Trophy. He led the NHL in uniform strength goals with 44, eight more than Kyle Connor of the Winnipeg Jets, and tied six players for third in power-play goals with 16, trailing only the Rangers forward chris kreider (26) and Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl (24). As Matthews has become an elite offensive player, the Maple Leafs center has improved his 200-foot game and finished first among forwards with 92 take-offs, one fewer than the Las Vegas Golden Knights defenseman. alex pietrangelo. Ultimately, though, it all comes down to that big number: 60. And for that, Matthews deserves the Hart Trophy. — Amalie Benjamin, staff writer
Connor McDavidEdmonton Tankers
Matthews’ season was definitely impressive, but there’s an award for that number 60, it’s called the Rocket Richard Trophy. The Hart Trophy is for the MVP for his team, not just the leading scorer, and the Oilers don’t move the needle in many categories without McDavid. Statistics have become almost secondary to him, though it’s hard not to look at his chart which includes winning the Art Ross Trophy for the fourth time with a career high in points (123). His will to be a better player in all aspects continues to increase, and his shot attempt percentage was a career-best 56.9 this season, a number that has been rising steadily. McDavid’s ability to improve those around him is also increasing, as evidenced by Draisaitl (55) and zachhyman (27) scoring personal records in goals, and Evander KaneBest career pace of 22 goals in 43 games. There used to be a debate that the best player in the world wasn’t necessarily the most valuable player in the league for his team; however, in my eyes, that is no longer the case. — Tim Campbell, staff writer
Igor ShesterkinNew York Rangers
My colleagues have presented my argument for me. As Tim pointed out, the Hart goes to the player considered most valuable to his team, not the most outstanding player or top scorer. As Amalie pointed out, Shesterkin almost single-handedly pushed the Rangers at least a year ahead of their expected timeline. There you go. But I’ll add this: The NHL just had the highest-scoring regular season in 26 years, averaging 6.3 goals per game. In that environment, Rangers allowed 2.49 goals per game, the second best in the League, and the biggest reason was Shesterkin, who will almost certainly win the Vezina Trophy as the best goalkeeper. He went 36-13-4 with a 2.07 goals-against average, that .935 save percentage and six shutouts. Among goaltenders who played at least seven games, he led the NHL in save percentage and goals against average and was third in shutouts. Who else made a bigger difference to his team? — Nicholas J. Cotsonika, columnist