Hockey fans are passionate and can debate about a myriad of topics. From the best player in the league to the greatest Stanley Cup champion of all time, there are no shortages of questions to debate.
On a yearly basis, one of the most debated topics is who should win the annual Hart Trophy. Awarded to the player most valuable player of his team in the regular season, fans can come up with all sorts of statistics and reasons for a certain player to win the award.
Earlier today, the NHL announced the three finalists for the Hart Trophy, which is sure to cause some heated discussions around the hockey community.
Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers, Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche and Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs were named the three finalists for the award. The winners of the 2021 NHL Awards are expected to be revealed during the Stanley Cup Semifinals and Final, with dates and format still to be announced.
While betting odds have not been officially announced for the outright winner, McDavid is the projected recipient.
McDavid tallied 105 points during the regular season, 21 more points than the next closest player, teammate Leon Draisaitl. McDavid was also the league leader in several categories, including assists (72), power-play assists (28) and power-play points (37). The Oilers’ captain was also a factor in 57.38 percent of the Oilers’ 138 goals, which is the highest single-season percentage in NHL history, according to NHL.com.
McDavid last won the Hart Trophy in 2017.
Auston Matthews led the league in goals this season with 41. His 25 assists also helped the Maple Leafs earn top spot in the North Division. The 23-year-old is the first player in Maple Leafs history to capture the Maurice Richard Trophy, awarded to the player that leads the league in goals.
Matthews is Toronto’s first Hart Trophy finalist since Doug Gilmour in 1993.
MacKinnon had one of the best regular-seasons in his career, tallying a career-high 1.35 points per game. MacKinnon was also a staple in helping the Avalanche win their third President’s Trophy in franchise history. His 15-game point streak was the longest of any NHL player this season and was the longest by a member of the Avalanche since the 2007 season.
MacKinnon has never won the Hart Trophy but has finished second in voting in two previous seasons. If MacKinnon were to win the award, it would be Colorado’s first Hart Trophy since Peter Forsberg (2003).
The winner is selected in a poll of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association (PHWA) at the end of the regular season. If McDavid were to win the award, it would be the first time since 1969 and 1970 (Phil Esposito, Bobby Orr) where the Hart Trophy went to different players on the same team in consecutive seasons.