Toronto Maple Leafs: Can Auston Matthews Win 2 Harts In a Row?
The NHL hasn’t had back-to-back Hart Trophy winners since 2009, so it’s unlikely that Toronto Maple Leafs superstar Auston Matthews will win another this season.
Auston Matthews did exactly what all Toronto Maple Leafs fans expected him to do when he finally won his first career Hart Trophy last year.
Can we take a second and look back at how lucky the Leafs were to be so awful during the 2015-16 campaign? Besides the Connor McDavid draft year, there couldn’t have been a better time to win the NHL Draft Lottery than 2016, because Matthews is clearly a generational talent.
The 24-year-old is the best goal-scorer in the NHL and that goal-scoring ability hit a new level last year, when he scored 60 goals, in 73 games. If he had played the extra nine games, it’s possible he would have hit 70 goals last year; that’s just how dominating he was.
60 goals and 106 points is a career-year, but as previously mentioned, Matthews is only 24-years-old. He’ll be 25 when the season starts, but that’s still incredibly young for an NHL player.
So, what should we expect from Matthews and can he actually win another Hart Trophy?
Auston Matthews Will Not Win Hart Trophy Next Year
I hope I’m wrong, but Matthews won’t win the Hart Trophy next year. And, the only reason he won’t is because there’s a player named Connor McDavid, who will win it.
In his first seven seasons, McDavid has four Art Ross Trophy wins, but only two Hart Trophy awards.
McDavid’s point-total’s are going to make him way too hard to beat again because, if healthy, he’s probably going to score 40-50 goals and register 125-135 points next season. Also, the NHL doesn’t like to give the Hart Trophy out to the same player year-after-year, so McDavid is due to win again.
Despite the more-than-likely chance that he won’t win the Hart Trophy, we should look into the fact that Matthews has gradually gotten better every year. His point-totals were always good, but it wasn’t until last season, that they were outstanding, as he finished with over 100 points for the first time in his career.
Here’s his last three seasons (stats: hockeydb.com):
- 2019-20 season:
- 47 goals, 80 points (70 games)
- 0.67 goals per game/1.14 points per game
- 2020-21 season:
- 41 goals, 66 points (52 games)
- 0.79 goals per game/1.26 points per game
- 2021-22 season:
- 60 goals, 106 points (73 games)
- 0.82 goals per game/1.45 points per game
For the past three seasons, Matthews has been getting better every single year, so finally winning the Hart Trophy was no fluke. It was just a matter of time before he won it and it finally came full-circle during the 2021-22 campaign.
Expecting Matthews’ goals and points per game totals to rise is pretty unlikely because he’s at a point where it feels impossible for it to go any higher. However, what if it does keep rising?
What if it only goes up a few percentage points and Matthews plays a full 82-game season? If that’s the case, he’d win another Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy by a mile and he’d have to be in the running for another Hart, even if McDavid wins another Art Ross.
For example, let’s just say Matthews goes up to 0.85 goals per game and 1.50 points per game:
- 2022-23 season (projections)
- 70 goals and 123 points (82 game season)
If Matthews game only improves marginally and he’s healthy for all 82 games, it’s actually possible that he can score 70 goals in a season. That’s outrageous to even write, but based on his career numbers and his aggregation of marginal gains each year, who’s to say this can’t happen?
I wouldn’t bet my life on this projection, but it’s actually a possibility, so regardless of what happens with the Toronto Maple Leafs as a whole next year, fans should be incredibly excited to see what Matthews can do as a follow-up to his Hart Trophy campaign.