The Hart Trophy nominations are in.
In a vote conducted by the Professional Hockey Writers' Association, Auston Matthews, Connor McDavid and Igor Shesterkin were named finalists Thursday for the NHL's most valuable player through the course of the regular season in 2021-22.
Matthews is a second-time nominee after repeating as the Rocket Richard winner as the league's goal-scoring king. He became the third player in the salary-cap era to score 60 goals in a season, landing on the number in 73 games. He also became the first player in more than a quarter century to score 50 times over a 50-game stretch.
Matthews added 46 assists for a career-high 106 points for the Toronto Maple Leafs, who finished with a franchise-best 115 points.
The reigning unanimous winner of the award, McDavid posted his most productive season over the course of his seven-year career. McDavid finished with career highs in goals (44) and points (123) for an Edmonton Oilers team which secured the No. 2 overall seed in the Pacific Division.
McDavid also turned in improved defensive metrics to post his best-ever analytical season, which featured a 59 percent on-ice expected goals percentage.
Finally, Shesterkin is looking to transcend his category with a top-three finish at worst in the Hart Trophy vote. The New York Rangers netminder and presumptive Vezina Trophy winner led the NHL in save percentage (.935) and total Goals Saved Above Average (44.83) while taking on the starter's workload for the first time. He did only appear in 64 percent of Rangers games despite career highs in usage, which ultimately didn't sway voters.
The PHWA — which included The Great One, Wayne Gretzky, for the first time — submitted ballots for select major NHL awards prior to the start of the postseason. That means the results of the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs will have no bearing on the winners.
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