It’s time for the big. The NHL has announced the finalists for the Hart Trophy, awarded annually to the “player deemed most valuable to his team.” Winner of last year, Leon Draisitl, also won the Ted lindsay and the Art Ross in an impressive trio.

This year the finalists are
Connor mcdavid the Edmonton Oilers, Auston matthews the Toronto Maple Leafs and Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche.

McDavid could complete the same trifecta his teammate did a year ago after putting on one of the most impressive regular seasons in recent history. The Oilers captain has scored 105 points in 56 games, a score that puts him in rare company. Since 1980-81, 40 years ago, only Wayne gretzky, Mario lemieux, Steve yzerman, Bernie nicholls and Adam oates finished with a higher points / game rate over a full season. Each of the last three names on this list has only made it once, and each was barely ahead of today’s best offensive player. There was absolutely no doubt that McDavid would be a finalist for the third time in his career. He had already won the Hart in 2016-17, his second year.

Matthews is a finalist for the first time after winning the Rocket Richard Trophy as the league’s top scorer. Surprisingly, he had an eight-goal lead over second-placed McDavid despite being four games short. Matthews has been a scoring marvel this season, totaling 41 in 52 games for the Maple Leafs, continuing to develop his strong defensive game. He was actually tied for fifth in points, but still 39 behind McDavid’s 105.

MacKinnon, the oldest of the three at 25, is a Hart finalist for the third time in his career. Still a bridesmaid, the Avalanche star finished second in her first two prize races. Unfortunately, for MacKinnon and hockey fans, he’s only played 48 games this season, so his 65-point tally put him eighth in the league. Per game, although it only trailed McDavid, Draisaitl and the New York Rangers forward Artemi Panarin. Even if MacKinnon becomes a finalist again, it would be hard to find someone who disagrees with his ranking among the best players around the world.