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What Does Auston Matthews Have To Do To Win the Hart Trophy?

Auston Matthews might score 70 goals this season. Seventy goals. That hasn’t been done since Selanne/Mogilny in 1992-93. In reality, he may not score 70, but he can get real close. The two candidates for the Hart Trophy right now, are Nikita Kucherov and Nathan MacKinnon from Tampa, and Colorado respectively. I’ll break down all three of these men and then we can see what Matthews might have to do to win the Hart Trophy for the 2023-24 season.

Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning

Kucherov’s game is defined by his exceptional offensive skills and hockey IQ. He possesses an elite-level combination of speed, agility, and puck-handling ability, allowing him to navigate through opposing defenses with ease. Kucherov is equally skilled at scoring goals as he is at setting up his teammates with pinpoint passes, making him a dual threat on the ice. This season, Nikita Kucherov is one of the top players in the National Hockey League. On the campaign, in just under 75 games, Kuch has 127 points. Kucherov has consistently been one of the best point scorers in the league, up there with the likes of Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and even Nathan MacKinnon. With the talent surrounding Kucherov, these goals and assist numbers are no surprise to any of us. With these totals, Kucherov is projected as the top candidate for the Hart Trophy.

Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche

MacKinnon’s game is characterized by its blazing speed, agility, and puck-handling ability. He possesses remarkable acceleration, allowing him to maneuver through opponents with ease and create scoring opportunities. His skill at stickhandling and puck control under pressure make him a constant threat in the offensive zone. Additionally, MacKinnon’s powerful shot and keen playmaking instincts make him a dual threat—a scorer and a playmaker. Nathan MacKinnon is easily having the best year of his career. MacKinnon has hit the 125-point mark, and is well on his way to nail 130. With just over 45 goals, MacKinnon is more like the player of the TRUE Hart candidate. MacKinnon has played a pivotal role in the success of the Colorado Avalanche, leading them to a Stanley Cup win in 2022. His contributions on the ice and leadership off it have earned him the respect of teammates, opponents, and fans alike.

Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs

Now we get to the big buy. Before this year, Auston Matthews has once scored over 60 goals in his career. In 2021-22, Matthews hit the big 60. Last year, he nailed 40 goals, and this year with less than 20 games to go, he smashed that total. Matthews is on pace to be the first 70 goal scorer since Teemu Selanne in 1993. Some can say that with the larger goal total, he doesn’t pass, or a lot of his goals are made off the stick of Mitch Marner, I tell them to just go watch a game. Auston is able to create well for himself, get himself to his spots and create separation for himself, with the puck on his stick. Matthews is scoring at a pace in which no one else could, and he very well could end up as the greatest goal scorer in NHL history. Alex Ovechkin, the best goal scorer in NHL history, has never cracked the 70 goal mark. Matthews’ shot is one of the best in the league. The way he can get the puck off his stick is otherworldly. Matthews’ best shot is in the slot, where he can shoot in the corners, wherever he needs to. His one-timer is another great shot in his arsenal, especially from just above the goal line. I haven’t seen a player score as many goals from that tight of an angle than Matthews’ has. Only a couple of games ago, Auston hit the 60-goal plateau in the Leafs’ second home in Buffalo. As a resident Maple Leafs fan, Auston Matthews is the greatest player to don the blue and white. It is truly magnificent to see what he is able to accomplish.

Matthews looks to continue the goal scoring pace, but we can’t dismiss his play on the other side of the puck. When you watch Auston Matthews, you can tell he is a special offensive player. Many do not realize that Matthews is a great defensive forward as well. Matthews can pick the puck off an opponent with ease, and transition to the offensive zone with no problem. He is very reliable in his own zone, so you do not have to worry about Auston Matthews when he’s out there.

Realistically, I do not think Matthews should have to prove anything to win this honor, but we’ll entertain the idea anyway. Auston is just shy of the 100-point mark, and has less than 10 games left in the season. With the playoff spot locked in for the Maple Leafs, some may think they can take their foot off the gas and slowly get more prepared for the postseason. I think otherwise. Now is the chance they have to refine their skills against better than average teams and figure out how they match up come the latter half of April. He has a real chance to hit 70 goals, and I think the team is going to do all they can to make that happen. All Auston has to do is continue to be the player everyone knows he is, to have a real shot at this title.

Auston Matthews’ exceptional performance, impact on team success, two-way play, consistency, and dominance on the ice make him a strong candidate for the Hart Trophy this year. As he continues his outstanding play and leads the Toronto Maple Leafs to another playoff berth, he will undoubtedly be deserving of the league’s most prestigious individual honor.


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