Auston Matthews showed the hockey universe why he should be the Hart Trophy favorite after the Toronto Maple Leafs dominated the Edmonton Oilers 5-1 last night.
Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are the Hart Trophy favorites right now and they’re deserving of that acclaim. They’re the reigning winners of that award and are both tied for the lead in points, while Draisaitl leads the NHL in goals.
With a 1.7 points per game average, both McDavid and Draisaitl are on pace for 140 points this year, which is a crazy stat. What’s even crazier is that Draisaitl is pacing towards a 70-goal season right now, but that’s bound to change.
Draisaitl currently has a 24.2 shooting percentage, which is not sustainable.
If the Edmonton Oilers didn’t have Draisaitl or McDavid, they may be the worst team in the league. When those players aren’t on the ice, their team is nothing. I know that quality should make them marquee favorites for the Hart Trophy year-after-year, but in my opinion, those two balance each other out.
If you’re the best player, on a top-three team in the NHL, who’s scoring and winning games without their second best player, you should get more consideration for votes and that’s exactly what Matthews is doing right now.
Toronto Maple Leafs Auston Matthews Should Be Hart Trophy Favorite
Matthews finished second in Hart Trophy voting last year to Connor McDavid.
Although Matthews scored 41 goals in 52 games, McDavid had 105 points in 56 games which was insanity. Both the Leafs and Oilers made the playoffs, so McDavid’s crazy point total was going to make him the winner, no matter how many goals Matthews had.
Matthews is currently scoring at a little less of a pace than he was last year, but he also had a much slower start to his year. Over the past few weeks, he’s really picked up his game and he doesn’t seem to be slowing down.
He’s on a 60-goal pace, while still shooting at 16.5%, which is very close to his 16.2% career average (stats: hockeyreference.com). (He is still under his career average at 5v5, where is indisputably the best player in the NHL at scoring goals. )The fact that he’s scoring at a same pace towards his career average is insane because it shows that he shouldn’t slow down and if he excels above his average, we could be looking at a 65-goal season from him.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are currently leading the NHL in points and haven’t scored less than three goals in a game while Mitch Marner has been injured. In fact, since Marner has been injured, Matthews has scored seven goals and 11 points in the six games he’s missed.
Matthews has stepped up his game when his “Robin” has been gone and has made sure this team isn’t slowing down. Despite playing alongside Michael Bunting and Ondrej Kase/Wayne Simmonds most nights, Matthews’ goal-scoring prowess has continued, which is a true test of an MVP.
By the end of the season, Matthews will probably lead the league in goals, finish top-10 in points and be on a team that could win the President’s Trophy, all while being a Selke Trophy candidate as one of the league’s best defensive forwards.
All of those qualities should make Matthews a strong candidate for the Hart Trophy this year.