Toronto Maple Leafs: Thoughts on Sandin, Dermott, and Matthews

TORONTO, ON - MARCH 27: William Nylander #88 of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrates his game tying goal against the Edmonton Oilers with teammates John Tavares #91 and Justin Holl #3 during an NHL game at Scotiabank Arena on March 27, 2021 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Maple Leafs defeated the Oilers 4-3 in overtime. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - MARCH 27: William Nylander #88 of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrates his game tying goal against the Edmonton Oilers with teammates John Tavares #91 and Justin Holl #3 during an NHL game at Scotiabank Arena on March 27, 2021 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Maple Leafs defeated the Oilers 4-3 in overtime. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /
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TORONTO, ON – MARCH 29: Connor McDavid #97 of the Edmonton Oilers skates against Auston Matthews #34 of the Toronto Maple Leafs  . (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON – MARCH 29: Connor McDavid #97 of the Edmonton Oilers skates against Auston Matthews #34 of the Toronto Maple Leafs  . (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /

Thought #4: Connor McDavid and the MVP

Sitting  less than two weeks  out from the final regular season game of 2020-21, undoubtedly the current Hart Trophy front-runner is none other than Edmonton Oilers’ captain Connor McDavid.

On pace for an 82-game game equivalent of 146 points, what we are witnessing from the Richmond Hill, Ontario native is truly remarkable. With only seven games left in one half of the Battle of Alberta’s season left, it seems as if the rest of the league is just trying to find out who the runner-up is going to be (although the Leafs superstar should be a slam dunk).

But the gap between McDavid and second place may not be as large as some are making it out to be. A couple of days ago, perusing through the various stats available to the public via NHL.com, something I found very interesting was the stark contrast between McDavid’s total points vs the rest of the league and his even-strength point total vs the rest of the league.

Using Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews for comparison’s sake, #97 is 23 points ahead of #16 and 25 ahead of #34. But factoring out powerplay points and restricting the three to only even-strength points, the gap tightens…a lot.

McDavid sits at 56. Matthews sits at 49. Marner sits at 48.

There is no question McDavid will win the MVP this season – and he rightfully should. According to MoneyPuck.com, with him on the ice, the Oilers generate 68% of the expected goals, a mark that would best the NHL-leading Colorado Avalanche. With their captain on the bench, that number falls to 38%, five percentage points worse than the 31st ranked Columbus Blue Jackets.

But it is still important to remember McDavid’s lofty point total is a tad inflated by a sparkling Oilers powerplay, where the two-headed Alberta monster runs amuck.

The MVP belongs to Connor McDavid. But his quest for 100 points in 56 games is overshadowing what Matthews is doing as well.