There’s not much that separates the three finalists for the Ted Lindsay Award.
josi roman of the Nashville Predators had a season that was the envy of NHL defenders and approached statistical heights achieved only by the game’s elite players.
Center auston matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs, despite missing nine games, became the first NHL player to score 60 goals in a season since Steven Stammos of the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2011-12.
What else can you expect from Connor McDavid, the super-talented center for the Edmonton Oilers? He has won the Lindsay three times in his previous six seasons, as well as winning the Hart Trophy (voted most valuable player) twice and the Art Ross Trophy (leading scorer) four times, including this season. Yet somehow, McDavid found a way to hit his NHL career highs in goals (44), assists (79), points (123), power play points (44), overtime goals (four) and shots (314).
But who is the most outstanding player in the NHL this regular season, as voted by other members of the NHL Players Association? We’ll know when the winner will be announced during the 2022 NHL Awards in Tampa on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; ESPN, SN, TVAS), but in the meantime, NHL.com asked a writer to make a compelling argument for why each is the finalist. must win.
Roman Josi, Nashville Predators
The Predators would not have made the Stanley Cup Playoffs if it weren’t for Josi’s performance this season. He did everything for them. He was the standout player in the NHL when you consider the minutes he played, his team’s production with him on the ice and how impactful he was. Josi scored 96 points (23 goals, 73 assists) in 80 games, tied with Ray Bourque (1983-84, Boston Bruins) and Paul Coffey (1982-83, Oilers) for 17th most points by a defenseman in a season of the NHL. He was four points short of becoming the sixth defenseman in NHL history to reach 100 in a season. Bobby Orr did it six times. Coffey did it five times. Al MacInnis, Brian Leetch and Denis Potvin each did it once. Josi was in that company this season, and he was the main reason the Predators had the second-best offensive season in their history, scoring 3.20 goals per game (averaging 3.24 in 2006-07). They also had the best power play in their history at 24.4 percent, tied for fifth with the Florida Panthers. Josi averaged 25:33 of ice time per game, the eighth-most in the NHL. He led defensemen in assists (73), points (96), shooting (281), even strength points (59), power play goals (11), points per game (1.20), multipoint games (26). and primary aids. (36). He was second with 23 goals (Cale Makar, Colorado Avalanche, 28) and 37 power-play points (Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning, 38). Josi was involved in 58.7 percent of Nashville’s 63 power play goals. It was a performance for history. — Dan Rosen, Senior Writer
Austin Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs
As impressive as Josi’s season was, Matthews had an even bigger historic impact for one of the NHL’s most storied teams. The centre-back scored goals at a rate the league hadn’t seen in over 20 years, finishing first with 60 in 73 games for an average of 0.82 per game. The last player to come close to that pace and score more than 20 goals in a season was Mario Lemieux, who scored 35 goals in 43 games at an average of 0.81 per game after coming out of retirement with the Penguins in 2000-01. . During a 50-game period from November 24 to April 9, Matthews scored 51 goals to become the ninth player in NHL history to score 50 in 50 games at any point in the season and the first since Lemieux in 1995. -96. Matthews broke the Maple Leafs single-season record held by Rick Vaive, who scored 54 goals in 1981-82. The San Ramon, California native also broke the NHL single-season record for an American-born player of 55 goals, which was shared by Kevin Stevens (1992-93, Penguins) and Jimmy Carson (1987-88). , The Angels). Kings). A complete player, Matthews tied Stamkos for sixth in the NHL with 106 points (46 assists) to help Toronto (54-21-7) to the most wins and points (115) in its history and qualify to the playoffs for the sixth straight. season. He led the NHL with 348 shots and was fifth with 10 game-winning goals. He tied for third in the NHL with 16 power-play goals, which led Toronto’s top-ranked power-play (27.3 percent). — Tom Gulitti, staff writer
Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers
There have been so many seasons of personal bests to love and admire in the NHL this season, and it’s encouraging to see Josi finally start to gain wider recognition for the quality of player he is. Matthews’ production was to be marveled at this season; he is as pure a shooter as the League has been in this era. But McDavid is widening the gap between himself and the runners-up for this award. Who plays the game with more speed, vision and execution than McDavid? No one. Who outclassed him offensively this season? No one. Who scares opponents the most and makes them change their game plan, sometimes repeatedly in the same game? No one. By winning his fourth Art Ross Trophy, he only set the bar higher for himself while increasing his versatility on every area of the ice. Nobody in the NHL stirs the drink like McDavid does in Edmonton, and while there are some notable stars performing in the League today, the competitors themselves know who the standout player is. — Tim Campbell, staff writer