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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Matthews is compensating for some of Toronto’s major weaknesses

The Toronto Maple Leafs would be a great hockey team if they possessed better defense and goaltending. Unfortunately, this hasn’t been the case in 2023-24, as the team has allowed 215 goals in 68 games. That’s an average of 3.16 goals allowed per contest, or 259 when adjusted through 82 games. 

Matthews has been a great two-way player since he arrived in Toronto, but he’s since taken his ability up another notch. Just like when he last won the Hart, Matthews is stealing the puck often, and if he can’t get a stick on it, he’s finding ways to stop incoming shots or using his strength to disrupt opponents.

Goaltending has been Toronto’s biggest weakness all season, and their defensive rotation has given those in the crease little help. Overall, their goaltending rotation of Ilya Samsonov, Joseph Woll, and Martin Jones have collectively registered just a 0.900 save percentage and a 2.95 GAA. 

Without Matthews, these numbers would look even worse, and there is a good chance the Maple Leafs would have lost a few more close contests. This isn’t to say the poor defense and goaltending would have dropped them all the way to a wild card, but Toronto would be nowhere near as strong of a contender as they are with 87 points.