Auston Matthews Should Not Be Considered for Hart Trophy

Anaheim Ducks v Toronto Maple Leafs
Anaheim Ducks v Toronto Maple Leafs / Claus Andersen/GettyImages
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I am a huge supporter of Auston Matthews, but considering him the favorite for the Hart Trophy might be premature. While 49 goals in a season would mark a career high for most players, achieving this feat in just 53 games is nothing short of extraordinary.

There's an undeniable sense of anticipation every time Auston Matthews takes the ice, with many believing he could score with every shift.

Despite this, he's narrowly missed the 50 goals in 50 games milestone, leaving fans feeling he's been a bit unlucky. (Although he currently has 34 goals in his last 31 games, so he is on pace to accomplish the feat for the second time in his career, just not from game 1 of the season).

At this remarkable pace, Matthews seems destined to claim his third Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy in just eight seasons.

Even more astonishing is the possibility that he could surpass Mats Sundin as the Toronto Maple Leafs' all-time leading goal scorer by the end of the 2024-25 season.

Sundin currently holds the record with 420 goals in 981 games, but Matthews could potentially achieve this milestone in just 644 games, a staggering four years ahead of schedule. Witnessing Matthews' once-in-a-lifetime performance on a nightly basis is truly a privilege that fans must appreciate. (stats hockeydb.com).

Auston Matthews Should Not Win Hart Trophy This Year

Despite Matthews incredible achievements and his near-goal-per-game pace 53 games into the season, I remain hesitant to crown him as the league's most valuable player. While it's evident that his exceptional skill benefits the entire team, it's a symbiotic relationship where Matthews also benefits from the talent around him.

Currently, the Leafs boast three players in the top 14 scorers, with Matthews holding just a slim lead over William Nylander in total points. Although Matthews is scoring at an unprecedented rate, his overall contribution in terms of points falls short compared to other players in the league.

One such player deserving of recognition is Nikita Kucherov, who is arguably the front-runner for the Hart Trophy based on his outstanding performance this season. Leading the NHL in points with 36 goals and 94 points, Kucherov has outpaced his entire team (he's 36 points ahead of second place), including notable stars like Brayden Point, Victor Hedman, and Steven Stamkos. Despite missing a significant portion of the season, goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy's absence did not deter the Lightning from maintaining a playoff position, further emphasizing Kucherov's impact.

While there is a chance that the Lightning may miss the playoffs, diminishing Kucherov's chances of nomination, his current performance warrants consideration as the front-runner. Even if Kucherov's performance declines, Connor McDavid's resurgence with the Edmonton Oilers cannot be overlooked. After a rocky start to the season, McDavid's remarkable turnaround, highlighted by 67 points in his last 34 games, has revitalized the Oilers, making them contenders for the Stanley Cup.

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While Matthews' season is undeniably exceptional, there are other players who have demonstrated equal or greater merit for the Hart Trophy. While he is likely to receive recognition with the Rocket Richard Trophy, the MVP honor may be better suited for players like Kucherov or McDavid.