The unquestionable best player in the NHL this season
Photo credit: The Canadian Press

The numbers support Auston Matthews being the frontrunner for this major NHL award

Published February 22, 2024 at 1:37 PM

Auston Matthews has reached a new level this season. Superstar? No. This season, he's a supernova. He's scoring goals at will, dominating at even strength, lethal on the powerplay, and a two way threat on the PK. He's currently sitting on 51 goals and 75 points in just 54 games and on pace for a 77-goal campaign. He also hasn't scored a single empty net goal, so no empty calories for him. He's been an absolute monster this season, but according to some, not good enough to be a Hart Trophy winner.

Of course, when it comes to the Leafs, there will always be fans that refuse to be objective, especially fans of other Canadian teams, like Edmonton and Vancouver. The fact is, Auston Matthews shouldn't just be in the conversation, he should be the unanimous frontrunner. The players in contention, besides Matthews, are Connor McDavid, Nikita Kucherov and Nathan MacKinnon. In that group, Matthews sits first in goals, blocked shots, takeaways, and face off percentage. He sits lowest in both PIM and giveaways.

The argument being used to downplay Matthews' spectacular season is that he is trailing the others in assists and total points. While that may be true, Nikita Kucherov is the only player in the NHL with more primary points (goals and first assists) than Matthews, and you won't catch him blocking shots on the penalty kill any time soon. The truth is that too many people hang onto the assertion that an assist is just as important as a goal. Sure, your PeeWee house league hockey coach told you that, but that was just so you would start passing the puck to each other. In reality, in the NHL, goals are far more valuable. The fact that being the guy who passed it to the guy who passed it to the guy who scored the goal is being looked at as the same as actually scoring is nothing short of ridiculous. Goals are more important than primary assists, primary assists are more important than secondary assists, Peewee coaches be damned.

At this point, Matthews is in contention to take home the Rocket, Selke, Hart, Ted Lindsay and Lady Byng trophies. That is not just an opinion, it's based in fact. Auston Matthews is better this season than your favourite player, no matter who that player is. End of story.
February 22   |   621 answers
The numbers support Auston Matthews being the frontrunner for this major NHL award

If voting began today, who would your Hart Trophy pick be?

Auston Matthews51382.6 %
Nikita Kucherov335.3 %
Connor McDavid7512.1 %
Nathan MacKinnon00 %
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