In a season that offered a lot of legitimate candidates for the Hart Memorial Trophy — the award given to the National Hockey League’s most valuable player — the NHL has named Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews, Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid, and New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin as finalists for the Hart Trophy.
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McDavid won his second career Hart Trophy last season when he was unanimously named first on all 100 ballots. He led the NHL in scoring with 123 points during this 2021-22 season.
Matthews finished second to McDavid in last season’s Hart Trophy voting and led the NHL with 60 goals in 73 games this season.
Shesterkin is the heavy favorite to win the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goaltender after leading the league with a .935 save percentage. New York Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin ranked second with a .925 save percentage.
Here are the opening Hart Trophy odds for the finalists and top contenders courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook, FanDuel Sportsbook, and BetMGM. Note that Shesterkin, Calgary Flames left winger Johnny Gaudreau, and Minnesota Wild left winger Kirill Kaprizov were not among the Top 20 in terms of DraftKings odds at the start of the season.
While there are some seasons in which it is difficult to find players that stand out at the top tier, a higher-scoring NHL resulted in several very strong candidates that ultimately did not make it as finalists.
That list includes Gaudreau and Florida Panthers left winger Jonathan Huberdeau, who tied for second in league scoring with 115 points. Kaprizov scored 47 goals and 108 points and Edmonton Oilers center Leon Draisaitl put up 55 goals and 110 points. In another season, any one of those players could be a viable Hart Trophy finalist.
Here were the five Hart Trophy favorites late in the regular season:
It appears that Matthews is going to take home his first Hart Trophy this season. But a late-season surge by McDavid — scoring 25 points in 14 games over the final month — kept it a real race to the finish.