Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers, and Igor Shesterkin of the New York Rangers have been voted as the three finalists for the 2021-22 Hart Trophy. The award is given “the player adjudged to be the most valuable to his team.”
Members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association vote on the Hart Trophy at the conclusion of the regular season. Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers won the award last season.
The 2021-22 NHL Award winners will be revealed during the Conference Finals and Stanley Cup Final.
[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2022 First Round schedule, TV info]
The case for Auston Matthews: Already this season’s Rocket Richard Trophy winner with a career-high 60 goals, Matthews also reached 106 points in 73 games to help Toronto to the fourth-most points (115) during the regular season. He also topped the NHL by averaging 0.82 goals per game, the highest rate for any player since Mario Lemieux’s 0.99 in 1995-96. His 60 goals was also 19.23% of the Maple Leafs’ total this season. Matthews was also first in even strength goals (44) and fourth in expected goals for percentage (63.91), per Natural Stat Trick. This is his second straight season as a Hart finalist after losing to McDavid in 2020-21. He could become the third player in franchise history to win the award and first since Ted Kennedy in 1954-55.
The case for Connor McDavid: This is McDavid’s fourth time as a Hart finalist and he is looking to win the award for the second straight season and third time in his NHL career. His 123 regular-season points helped him claim his fourth Art Ross Trophy. He did so by recording career highs in goals (44), assists (79) and points in 80 games. McDavid’s accumulation of points saw him record at least one in 63 of 80 games played and his pointless streaks never lasted more than three games. He played a role in 43.16% of the Oilers’ total goals, was top-10 in the NHL in expected goals for percentage (59.00), and finished tied for third in even strength goals (34) and EV points (77). Only eight players have won the Hart at least three times in NHL history.
The case for Igor Shesterkin: The Rangers netminder, who was also voted a finalist for the 2021-22 Vezina Trophy, made his name helping lead the team to a 52-win season. His .935 even strength save percentage was best among goalies and he finished third with six shutouts. No goalie topped his 26.38 goals saved above average, per Natural Stat Trick, and this .866 high-danger save percentage was only behind fellow countryman Ilya Sorokin of the New York Islanders. Shesterkin could be the fifth player in franchise history to win the Hart and first since Mark Messier in 1991-92.
Finalists for the 2021-22 Ted Lindsay Award, which is voted on by members of the NHLPA, will be announced on Friday.
NHL Award finalists announcement schedule:
Norris Trophy: Victor Hedman, Roman Josi, Cale Makar
Vezina Trophy: Jacob Markstrom, Juuse Saros, Igor Shesterkin
Calder Trophy: Michael Bunting, Moritz Seider, Trevor Zegras
Friday, May 13: Ted Lindsay Award
Monday, May 16: Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy
Tuesday, May 17: Frank J. Selke Trophy
Wednesday, May 18: Lady Byng Memorial Trophy
Thursday, May 19: Jack Adams Award
Friday, May 20: King Clancy Memorial Trophy
Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.