Auston Matthews Starting to Enter the Hart Trophy Conversation

Leafs centre is doing things that the NHL has not seen for years.
Anaheim Ducks v Toronto Maple Leafs
Anaheim Ducks v Toronto Maple Leafs / Claus Andersen/GettyImages

Toronto Maple Leafs superstar Auston Matthews recorded his second hat trick in a row and sixth of the season in Saturday's 9-2 thrashing of the Anaheim Ducks.

Auston Matthews added two assists for a career-high five-point game. The three goals moved his season total to an NHL-leading 48 goals in 52 games. The five points pushed his season total to 71, tied him with William Nylander for the team lead, and was good for sixth overall league-wide.

The six hat tricks in a season is a new Leafs record that was held by Darryl Sittler, who had five during the 1980-1981 season. It's also the first time since the 1995-1996 season (Mario Lemieux of the Pittusburgh Penguins) that an NHL player has recorded six in a season.

Matthews' outburst against the Ducks puts him on pace to score 75 goals this season. So, how is it that his dominate season is not getting more consideration in the race for MVP?

Auston Matthews Starting to Enter the Hart Trophy Conversation

Two seasons ago Matthews set a Leafs franchise record by scoring 60 goals. That total led the NHL and he defeated Connor McDavid in the voting for the Hart Trophy.

Despite being on pace to shatter the sixty-goal mark, Matthews currently is tied for the fourth-best odds to win this year's Hart Trophy.

McDavid, Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche, and Nikita Kucherov of the Tampa Bay Lightning are names that are typically mentioned ahead of Matthews to this point in the season.

That they all have shorter odds to win MVP over Matthews is unjustifiable.

Matthews Should Be The Frontrunner for the Hart Trophy

McDavid has been the league's best player for some time now, but he is having a down year by his standards. Also, it seems like a long time ago, but he struggled mightily during the Oilers' horrific start to the season.

Kucherov is doing wonderful things with the Lightning, but his accomplishments are not out of the ordinary compared to what Matthews is achieving.

Often, voters for individual awards, rightly or wrongly, consider a team's place in the standings when deciding who should win.

This argument does not hold water when looking at the current standings. The Avalanche are second in the Central Division with 70 points. The Oilers are third in the Pacific Division with 65 points. The Leafs win over the Ducks put them back in third place in the Atlantic Division with 66 points. The Lightning hold the first wild card position in the Eastern Conference with 65 points.

The points percentage of the four teams sees the Oilers come in at .637, the Avalanche at .636, the Leafs at .623, and the Lightning at .580. There is not much separation between the teams and currently, there is not a first-place team among them.

Two months remain in the NHL season. Lots can and perhaps will change. Should Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs continue his magical season, there should be no debate over who is the league's most valuable player.

Matthews is scoring hat tricks as if he were from another planet. He could be the first player in over thirty years to reach the 70-goal plateau.


Auston Matthews is the choice for MVP. It's time to spread the word.