Breaking down the 2021-22 Hart Trophy race

Published March 9, 2022 at 3:57 PM

Make no mistake, there are several candidates in 2021-22 who are having an undeniable Hart Trophy caliber season. There is certainly some stiff competition, but at this point, you can make a pretty good argument that Matthews is the current Hart Trophy favourite.

Matthews' main competition appears to be New York Rangers netminder Igor Shesterkin. The third candidate in my top-3 at this time is Colorado Avalanche defender Cale Makar. This is not meant as a snub to the consensus number one player in the world, Connor McDavid, but more a recognition that there are currently 3 other players who may be more deserving of the award.

Shesterkin has appeared in 37 games for the Rangers this season, posting an impressive 28-6-3 record. His 1.93 GAA and .942 SV% lead the league in both categories, not surprisingly. He's also 4th in wins, 9th in saves and 10th in shots against.

It's wild to think about a Hart Trophy race without McDavid in the top-3, but Colorado's Cale Makar has edged him out of contention thus far. The 2019-20 Calder Trophy winner is having an incredible season and could be the frontrunner for the Norris Trophy. In 54 games this season, Makar has notched 21 goals and 65 points, leading all NHL defenseman in both categories. He's on pace to score 94 points in just 78 games, which would make him the first defenseman to hit that mark since Phil Housley (97 points) three decades ago.

No disrespect to his competitors, but Matthews is just on a different level this season. Everyone knows that the hardest thing to do at the NHL level is to score goals. Not only does Matthews score goals, he scores them in high volume and against some of the world's best netminders.

Matthews has notched 43 goals so far this season, putting him on pace to finish the season with a remarkable 62 goals. If he can hit that mark, he'll be the first to break 60 goals since Stamkos in 2011-12. Stammer played all 82 games that season. Matthews is on pace to exceed that total in 3 less games.

To put into perspective just how impressive Matthews is at just 24 years old, here are the league's best goal scorers since Matthews made his NHL debut back in 2016. Not only does Matthews lead all goal scorers over that span, but he leads them all while playing less games than each and every one of them.

Matthews - 242
Ovechkin - 241
Draisaitl - 216
McDavid - 208
Pastrnak - 206

Matthews could end up walking away with the Hart, Art Ross, Rocket Richard and Selke Trophies, and also the Ted Lindsay Award this season - and that's not a stretch.
March 9   |   83 answers
Breaking down the 2021-22 Hart Trophy race

Who will win the Hart Trophy this season?

Auston Matthews3643.4 %
Cale Makar2226.5 %
Igor Shesterkin1518.1 %
Connor McDavid1012 %
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