Toronto Maple Leafs centre Auston Matthews and Edmonton Oilers centre Connor McDavid are two of the finalists for the Hart Memorial Trophy, the NHL’s most valuable player award.
New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin is also in contention for the prize awarded “to the player adjudged to be the most valuable to his team.”
Matthews, who earned this season’s Maurice (Rocket) Richard Trophy as the NHL’s leading goal-scorer, posted career highs with 60 goals and 46 assists. He became the 21st different player in NHL history – and first in a decade – to register 60 goals in a season.
The 24-year-old Matthews was asked about the nomination on Thursday ahead of Game 6 between the Leafs and Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena. Toronto led the series 3-2 and hoped to advance to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2004.
“It’s a big honour,” said Matthews. “But I think right now the focus isn’t really much on that. It’s more on what we’re going through ... what (Thursday night) means to this team.
“Just a great opportunity for us.”
McDavid, who claimed the Art Ross Trophy as the League’s top scorer this season, also established career highs with 44 goals and 79 assists.
The reigning Hart Trophy winner, McDavid never went more than three games without a point.
Shesterkin, who earlier this week was named a finalist for the Vezina Trophy, as the NHL’s best goaltender, had a 2.07 goals-against average, .935 save percentage and six shutouts.
With files from Joshua Clipperton in Tampa, Fla.