Matthews, McDavid, Shesterkin voted Hart Trophy finalists

Mark Blinch / National Hockey League / Getty

Toronto Maple Leafs sniper Auston Matthews, Edmonton Oilers superstar Connor McDavid, and New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin were announced as the 2021-22 Hart Trophy finalists on Thursday.

Matthews repeated as the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy winner this season after becoming the first player to score 60 goals in a campaign since Steven Stamkos in 2011-12. The American center, who missed nine games this campaign, was on pace for 67 goals in 82 contests, a number that hasn't been reached since Mario Lemieux potted 69 in 1995-96.

Matthews, a two-time Hart nominee, is widely considered the front runner for the award thanks in part to his defensive game. The 24-year-old averaged a whopping 3.66 takeaways per 60 minutes this season, and Toronto controlled almost 64% of the expected goals with the pivot on the ice at five-on-five, according to Natural Stat Trick.

McDavid is looking to capture his third career Hart Trophy after earning his fourth nomination. The 25-year-old phenom bagged the Art Ross Trophy for the second straight campaign after leading all skaters with a career-best 123 points in 80 regular-season contests.

If McDavid wins, he'd become the first player to earn two consecutive Hart Trophies since Alex Ovechkin went back-to-back in 2007-08 and 2008-09. It'd also mark the third straight season that the Hart Trophy ended up in Edmonton, as Leon Draisaitl received the honor in 2019-20.

Shesterkin, who earlier this week was also named a Vezina Trophy finalist as the league's top goaltender, was a key component to the Rangers' success this season. He led the NHL in save percentage (.935) and goals against average (2.07) among netminders who played at least 25 games this regular season.

The 26-year-old also paced all players, including skaters, in wins above replacement (8.9), according to Evolving Hockey. A first-time nominee, Shesterkin is looking to become the third goalie to win the Hart Trophy this century and the latest since Carey Price in 2014-15.

The Professional Hockey Writers Association determines the winner of the Hart Trophy, which is given annually "to the player adjudged to be the most valuable to his team."

The victor will be revealed sometime during the conference finals and Stanley Cup Final.

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Matthews, McDavid, Shesterkin voted Hart Trophy finalists
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