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Photo Credit: © Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Auston Matthews a finalist for the Hart (unfortunately so is Connor McDavid)

If we weren’t still licking our wounds from the playoffs this would be a pretty exciting moment in Leafs history, as Auston Matthews was today announced as one of the Hart Finalists.

We’ll start by saying this award is probably going to Connor McDavid on the strength of his 100 point season, but perhaps Matthews’ 41 goals is enough to make him the first runner up ahead of Nathan MacKinnon, who is also (obviously) very deserving of this honour, but lacked a signature stat, instead relied on actually winning games in the playoffs to stand out (voting took place before the playoffs.)

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So yeah, no Hart winners since 1955. Only the third in history. The last time the Leafs even had a finalist was with Doug Gilmour in 1993. Before that was Darryl Sittler in 1978, and Johnny Bower in 1961. In short, Toronto hasn’t had a lot of Hart and this is a big deal for the Leafs.

As much as we think this looks like a lock for Connor McDavid, and as much as we are disappointed in the outcome for the Leafs this year, there is a strong case for Auston Matthews being one of the most special Leafs players in history, and this announcement can remind us that there are some things to be happy about with this team.