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Oilers’ McDavid, Leafs’ Matthews and Avs’ MacKinnon named Hart Trophy finalists

Oilers’ McDavid, Leafs’ Matthews and Avs’ MacKinnon named Hart Trophy finalists

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid, Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews and Colorado Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon have been named finalists for the 2021 Hart Trophy.

The award is presented annually by the NHL to the “player deemed most valuable to his team”.

McDavid, considered by many to be the favorite for the award, topped the 2020-21 scoring race with 105 points (33 goals, 72 assists) in 56 games – 21 points more than finalist and Oilers teammate Leon Draisaitl, who won the award last year.

The 24-year-old from Newmarket, Ont., Who won the Hart Trophy in 2016-17 and finished third in votes in 2018-19, seeks to become the fifth player in NHL history to win the award at several times before his 25th birthday after Wayne Gretzky (6x), Bobby Orr (3x), Gordie Howe (2x) and Alexander Ovechkin (2x).

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A McDavid victory would also make the Oilers the first team with various Hart Trophy winners in consecutive seasons since the Boston Bruins in 1968–1969 (Phil Esposito) and 1969-70 (Bobby Orr).

Matthews scored 41 goals in 52 league-leading games to help Toronto become the top seed in the North Division. He became the first Maple Leaf to lead the league in goals since Gaye Stewart in 1945-46.

The 23-year-old from Scottsdale, Ariz., Is the first Hart Trophy finalist in Toronto since Doug Gilmour placed second in the poll in 1992-93. Babe Pratt (1943-44) and Ted Kennedy (1954-55) are the only other Leafs to win the award.

MacKinnon placed fourth in the NHL with a career-high 1.35 points per game (20 goals, 45 assists in 48 games) to propel the Avalanche’s top offense to the franchise’s third Presidents Trophy.

The 25-year-old from Cole Harbor, Nova Scotia is a finalist for the second year in a row and the third time overall after finishing second in 2017-18 and 2019-2020.

He aims to become the third Avalanche / Nordiques player to win the Hart Trophy, after Joe Sakic (2000-2001) and Peter Forsberg (2002-03).

This year’s NHL award winners will be announced in the Stanley Cup semi-finals and finals, with exact dates and times to be announced.

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