Maple Leafs star Matthews honored as NHL Most Valuable Player

TAMPA, Fla. — Toronto Maple Leafs star forward Auston Matthews won the Hart Trophy for NHL Most Valuable Player and the Ted Lindsay Award for NHLPA Most Outstanding Player at the NHL Awards Tuesday evening.

Matthews, 24, scored 60 goals, leading the NHL for the second consecutive season. He set a Maple Leafs franchise record and single-season record for most goals by an American-born player. He led the NHL in even-strength goals (44), goals per game (0.82) and shots (348). He was tied for sixth with 106 points – the highest total of his career.

“I think it’s a huge honor to wear the blue and white, to represent the city of Toronto and to wear the maple leaf every night,” he said. “Any time your name is etched in history, with an organization like this, it’s something I don’t take for granted.”

Matthews earned 119 first-place votes for the Hart Trophy, which is voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers Association (PHWA). Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid finished second in voting while New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin finished third. Matthews was the first Maple Leafs player to win the NHLPA’s Most Outstanding Player award, which is voted on by players and first presented in 1971. McDavid and Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi were the Ted Lindsay finalists. Matthews is the second American-born player to win the award, along with Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane in 2015-16.

“I’m not going to lie to you, it really feels good. It’s special to have my family here with me. There are a lot of great players in this room,” Matthews said.

The closest vote of the night was for the Norris Trophy, awarded to the NHL’s top defenseman by the PHWA. Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar won his first Norris with 1,631 points in the vote, with 92 votes for first place. Josi finished second (1,606) with more first-place votes than Makar (98). The point allocation on the ballot, which ranks the top five picks, is 10-7-5-3-1. Makar was nominated on 195 ballots, while Josi was nominated on 194.

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman finished third for the Norris.

Hedman and Makar will play Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals on Wednesday night.

“I feel like once it’s all said and done, you can enjoy (the prize). But for me right now, I’ve already kind of forgotten about it. You have to move on. Obviously , these are strange circumstances with (the awards) being presented before the end of the season,” Makar said. “As a team, we’re putting ourselves in a great position right now. We just have to capitalize on that.”

Shesterkin won the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goaltender, which is voted by the NHL’s general managers. The other finalists were second pick Jacob Markstrom of the Calgary Flames and Juuse Saros of the Nashville Predators.

“It means a lot to me,” said Shesterkin, who is completing his third NHL season. “I didn’t think about it when I came to the NHL. But sometimes you think maybe I have a chance. In the first preseason game against the Islanders, I didn’t play. A little kid [fan] showed me a photo with myself and it said “future winner of the Vézina trophy”. I think, ‘why not?’ We have a good team for that.”

Shesterkin led the NHL with a 2.07 goals-against average and .935 save percentage in 53 games, leading the Rangers to 110 regular season points, the third-highest total in franchise history. . He was a first-time Vezina nominee and joined Henrik Lundqvist and John Vanbiesbrouck as the Rangers who have won the Vezina since the current criteria for the award were established in 1981-82.

Some expected he could be a unanimous pick, but Carolina’s Fredrik Andersen, Tampa Bay goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy and New York Islanders’ Ilya Sorokin also picked up the No. 1 spot.

Detroit Red Wings defenseman Moritz Seider won the Calder Memorial Trophy for Rookie of the Year, as voted by the PHWA. He played in all 82 Red Wings games and averaged 23:02 of ice time per game, a rookie record. He led all rookie defensemen in points (50), the third most for a freshman defenseman in the last 30 years. He led all rookies in assists (43) and power-play points (21).

Seider laughed a lot at the awards when he mentioned that his parents weren’t there because they had just returned from vacation in Croatia.

“They scheduled their vacations and there were no more days to escape from their homes. They really watched,” he said. “Very proud to report something (for them).”

Seider garnered 170 first-place votes. Trevor Zegras, the Anaheim Ducks forward who has created several game-scoring goals this season, finished second with 15 votes for first place. Toronto Maple Leafs rookie Michael Bunting, who stood out at age 26, finished third in the voting.

Julien BriseBois of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Chris Drury of the New York Rangers and Joe Sakic of the Colorado Avalanche are the three finalists for the Jim Gregory Award for General Manager of the Year 2021-22. The winner will be announced at the NHL Draft next month in Montreal.

The NHL Awards were held at Armature Works in Tampa on the day off between Games 3 and 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals. The league previously announced several playoff awards: Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award: Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings; Jack Adams Award: Daryl Sutter, Calgary Flames; Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy: Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens; Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award: Noel Acton of Baltimore, Maryland Frank J. Selke Trophy for Best Defensive Forward: Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins; Lady Byng Memorial Trophy for Most Gentlemanly Player: Kyle Connor, Winnipeg Jets; King Clancy Memorial Trophy for Community Service: PK Subban, New Jersey Devils.

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