McDavid, Matthews, MacKinnon named finalists for Hart Trophy

Edmonton Oilers' Connor McDavid (97) lines up for a face-off against the Winnipeg Jets during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Wednesday, February 17, 2021. (Jason Franson/CP)

Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers, Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche are the three finalists for the 2020-21 Hart Memorial Trophy, the NHL announced Thursday.

The award is given annually to “the player adjudged to be the most valuable to his team.”

McDavid registered a league-best 105 points during the regular season — 21 more than the next closest player and reigning Hart Trophy winner, teammate Leon Draisaitl. The 24-year-old also topped the NHL in assists (72), power-play assists (28) and power-play points (37). McDavid recorded a league-leading 1.88 points per game and was a factor in 57.38 per cent of the Oilers’ 183 goals (excluding the shootout), which is the highest single-season percentage in NHL history.

The Richmond Hill, Ont., native previously won the Hart Trophy in 2016-17 and finished third in voting for 2018-19. He is seeking to become the fifth player in NHL history to win the Hart Trophy multiple times before the age of 25, following in the footsteps of Wayne Gretzky, Bobby Orr, Gordie Howe and Alex Ovechkin.

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Matthews led the league in goals this season, finding the back of the net 41 times and adding 25 assists over 52 games to help the Maple Leafs earn the top seed in the North Division. He also ranked No. 1 in the NHL with 12 game-winning goals and 222 shots on net, and accounted for 22 per cent of Toronto’s 186 goals. The 23-year-old is the first player in Maple Leafs history to capture the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy.

The Scottsdale, Ariz., native is Toronto’s first Hart Trophy finalists since Doug Gilmour, who finished second in voting in 1992-93. Matthews is also looking to become the franchise’s third Hart Trophy winner after Babe Pratt in 1943-44 and Ted Kennedy in 1954-55.

MacKinnon finished this season with a career-high 1.35 points per game and notched 20 goals and 45 points to help his team to the franchise’s third Presidents’ Trophy. Despite missing eight regular season contests, MacKinnon finished third in the league in shots on goal (206), third in power-play points (25), fifth in assists (45) and eighth in points. The 25-year-old also had a career-best 15-game point streak, which was the longest by an NHL player this season and the longest by a member of the Avalanche since 2006-07.

The Halifax, N.S., native is a Hart Trophy finalist for a second straight year, finishing second in Hart Trophy voting in both 2017-18 and 2019-20. He’s looking to become the third player in Avalanche history to claim the award, joining Joe Sakic in 2000-01 and Peter Forsberg in 2002-03.

The winners of the 2021 NHL Awards will be revealed during the Stanley Cup Semifinals and Final, with specific dates and the format to be announced.

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