3 reasons Auston Matthews is the clear-cut frontrunner for the Hart Trophy

Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews has put up a legendary season, and it should end with him taking the Hart Trophy if he keeps up this epic pace.

Toronto Maple Leafs v Washington Capitals
Toronto Maple Leafs v Washington Capitals / Patrick Smith/GettyImages
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Auston Matthews may not have recorded the highest number of points in the NHL this season. So far, anyway. But it doesn’t mean he’s not worthy of the league’s Most Valuable Player award, officially known as the Hart Trophy. 

Matthews, who won the Hart in 2021-22, is on pace to have a better year in 2023-24 than he did that season. And what a memorable year that was for the then-24-year-old. 

Matthews logged his first 100-plus-point campaign that season, recording 106 total, with 60 goals, 46 assists, a 17.2 shooting percentage, and an average total ice time of 20:37. He led the league in goals scored for the second season in a row, along with what was also a league-leading 44 at even strength. Matthews also paced the NHL with 348 shots on goal. 

In that memorable season, he also won the Ted Lindsay Award and the Maurice Richard Trophy. Should Matthews continue at his potentially career-best pace, he could very well take not just the Hart but all of the above awards once again. 

Auston Matthews should be the frontrunner for the Hart Trophy

While you can make the case that Matthews should be the current frontrunner for the Hart, he is also facing a lot of competition in his quest to become the most valuable player in hockey for the second time in his career. Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche is a serious contender, as are Sam Reinhart, David Pastrnak, and Nikita Kucherov, all of whom Matthews knows well, as they all reside in the Atlantic Division. 

Connor McDavid is annually a frontrunner for the award, and he’s once again making his case known, being just one of three players as of March 22nd to have put up triple-digits in points, with Pastrnak and Artemi Panarin of the New York Rangers not far behind. 

But what gives Matthews the edge over all of the above names? Here are three reasons he is the clear-cut frontrunner for the award and why he will end up taking the Hart if he keeps up his epic pace.