The 2021-22 Hart Trophy for the NHL’s Most Valuable Player is the Toronto Maple Leafs Auston Matthews and there really isn’t any doubt.
The best player in the history of the Toronto Maple Leafs has scored 50 goals in 50 games, something no one has done since the Dead Puck Era.
Additionally, should Matthews hit 72 – a long shot – it would be the best single season goal scoring in NHL history, adjusted for era.
All this is really overshadowing the fact that Mitch Marner is also a legitimate Hart Trophy candidate. (stats naturalstattrick.com).
Toronto Maple Leafs Mitch Marner Deserves Hart Nomination Too
Mitch Marner has missed nine games this season, and despite that, he is currently 4th in 5v5 scoring, second in 5v5 points per minute of ice time.
In all situations, Marner has 90 points in 63 games, and ranks 6th overall, 5th on a per minute basis.
Marner had a slow start to the season but leads the NHL in scoring since January 1st. With nine games left in the season, he could still finish higher in the overall points race, while winning the 5v5 scoring title is still a very real possibility.
Marner is often credited as having a slow start to this season, and that’s only true by his counting numbers. Marner was posting elite number from October through his injury in December, but his on-ice shooting percentage was only 10%, while that has gone up more than 50% since January 1st.
Here is Marner’s advanced numbers on the season:
"Corsi: 57% (16th)XGoals: 60% (T4th – ahead of him are Matthews, McAvoy, Bunting)Scoring Chances: 62% (T2nd)High Danger SC: 61% (T4)"
Marner has 31 goals and 90 points, but the real story is how he’s played since he came back from injury.
Since January 15th, Marner has 69 points in 37 games, and leads the second highest scorer (who happens to be Auston Matthews) by eight points.
Note that this is a 152 point pace and that only one person, not named Gretzky or Lemieux, has ever scored that much. Of course, prorating doesn’t mean anything, but it’s still fun to think about.
That’s almost a half of a season scoring at a pace that only the best players of all-time have ever done, and he’s doing it in a much lower scoring era than Mario, Wayne or Stevie Y did.
During this run, Marner has scored at a 5.35 point per minute rate, which is truly crazy because in the NHL over 2 P/60 makes you a first-liner, and over 3 makes you a superstar.
Marner does all this while providing elite penalty killing and nearly elite 5v5 defense. Other than Matthews, none of the players who score like he does come close to matching his defense.
Marner scores at a comparable rate to McDavid, Draisaitl, and Tkachuk, but provides a much better 200 ft game than any of them. Maker, Josi and Shesterkin are fun picks, but Marner is better.
Auston Matthews should win the Hart Trophy, but Mitch Marner should be the runner up. Marner is having an MVP season, it’s just too bad for his trophy case that Matthews’ season is historic.