Hockey insider throws shade at Auston Matthews over Hart Trophy buzz

Cody Craig
April 17, 2024  (8:40)

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews celebrates a goal against the Minnesota Wild
Photo credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

There was plenty of shade thrown on Monday by a prominent hockey insider who believes that Maple Leafs franchise cornerstone Auston Matthews' 69-goal season is being overblown.

Well-known insider Frank Seravalli and his co-host Jason Gregor had this discussion on The Daily Faceoff Rundown Podcast, and it has sparked plenty of heat on social media.
One of Seravall's main points in his argument pertaining to Matthews not being considered a Hart Trophy candidate in his eyes is the fact that this isn't something new we're seeing in the salary cap era. Only last year did we witness the Edmonton Oilers superstar Connor McDavid score 64 goals on the season. Despite Matthews scoring the most goals in the salary cap era and being a shot away from becoming only the ninth player in NHL history to score 70 goals in a single season, you have to admire the phenomenal seasons by Nikita Kucherov, Nathan MacKinnon, and Connor McDavid. You can certainly make a pretty convincing argument that any of them are deserving.
These three forwards are easily the MVPs of their respective teams, especially given the fact that all three dynamic players have eclipsed the 130-point total this season, something that hasn't been done since the 1992-1993 season. So, in that sense, Frank Seravalli has a point in that it's difficult to give Matthews a ballot for the Hart Trophy when he's so far behind in points, but to say he's not in the running is quite controversial given the season the 69-goal scorer has put forward.
Not only has Matthews become the first player to score 69 goals in a season since the great Mario Lemieux did so in the 1995–96 season, he has accomplished it in the salary cap era. This has become his career high for goals in a single season, and throughout the season he received shade from fans from other markets for not picking up assists the way McDavid, MacKinnon and Kucherov do, but he's near his career high in assists in a single season. This has allowed Matthews to reach a new career high in points with 107.
Look - you can have goals without an assist, but you can't have assists without a goal. Scoring goals is the hardest thing in the NHL to do and Auston Matthews does it better than literally anyone else. Plus, for most of his season, he hasn't been playing with high-volume shooters. He's been the triggerman. It's tough to rack up assists when you play with players who don't shoot the puck often and who have a pass-first orientation. When you also consider that a secondary assist is not on par with a goal, it provides some additional perspective here. Just because you pass it to the guy who passes it to the guy who scores, it doesn't give you a leg up on a guy who has scored the most goals in a season in almost 3 decades.
It's difficult to stray away from the idea that Auston is not a Hart Trophy candidate when you consider his elite all-round game, which is understandably considered one of the best in the entire league. We all know Matthews can score goals, but when you're ranked in the top three amongst forwards in blocked shots and takeaways, it only solidifies the fact that Auston plays a two-way game that can be argued as MVP material.
Another strong point when you compare these four forwards for the Hart Trophy is that, despite the three having plenty more assists, Matthews leads them in blocked shots, takeaways, plus/minus, and plays the penalty kill while putting up a Selke Trophy-level defense on a consistent nightly basis.
So despite Frank Seravalli not being convinced that Auston Matthews is deserving of winning the Hart Trophy this season, the fact of the matter is that no matter who is named the league MVP of the regular season this year will be deserving of winning, even if it's Matthews.
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Hockey insider throws shade at Auston Matthews over Hart Trophy buzz

Should Maple Leafs superstar Auston Matthews be a finalist for the Hart Trophy this season?

Yes26278.4 %
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