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Photo Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Maple Leafs’ Auston Matthews nominated for Hart Trophy following franchise-record breaking season

TAMPA, Fla. — Auston Matthews wasn’t in the mood to bask in his Hart Trophy nomination.

“I think it’s a big honour, but I think right now the focus isn’t really much on that,” he said. “It’s more on what we’re going through right now and what tonight means for this team.”

The Toronto Maple Leafs forward was nominated for the 2022 Hart Memorial Trophy on Thursday. The announcement for the award — handed out annually to the most valuable player in the NHL — came hours before the Maple Leafs were set to take on the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 6 of their first-round playoff series.

Up 3-2 in their series, the Maple Leafs are with a chance to advance to the second round of the playoffs for the first time in 18 years, Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe talked at length about Matthews’ overall game this season. But also ackowledged that the day was more focused on taking care of business.

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“Obviously when it comes to news coming at this point, there’s other things on everybody’s mind, but it is certainly a well-deserved recognition,” Keefe said.

Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid and New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin were also named finalists. The award is voted on annually by members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association.

Matthews won his second Maurice “Rocket’ Trophy, becoming the first player to reach 60 since Tampa Bay Lighting forward Steven Stamkos accomplished the feat during the 2011-12 season.

He also set a new franchise record for goals in a season, eclipsing Rick Vaive’s 54 goals scored in 1981-82

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The Scottsdale, Arizona native also set new career highs in assists (46) and points (106).

Matthews finished second in voting last season while McDavid took the top honour. No Toronto Maple Leafs player has won the Hart Trophy since Ted Kennedy for his performance during the 1954-55 season.

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