DENVER – Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon was named Thursday as one of three finalists for the 2020-21 Hart Memorial Trophy, the NHL’s most valuable player award.
Mackinnon was one of the top three picks of the Professional Hockey Writers Association for the award, along with Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews and Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid, perhaps the favorite out of the three.
It is the second straight season and third overall MacKinnon has been named a finalist for the Hart Memorial Trophy. He finished second in voting in both 2017-18 and 2019-20.
Should he win, he would be the third player in franchise history to claim the award, which Joe Sakic won in the 2000-01 season and Peter Forsberg won in the 2002-03 season.
MacKinnon, 25, finished the season with 20 goals and 45 assists in 48 games played and led the Avs’ top-ranked offense. He had a career-high 1.35 points per game and had a league-best 15-game point stream in March and April.
McDavid, 24, is believed to be the favorite to win the award after he finished with 105 points in 56 games – 33 goals and 72 assists – which was 21 more than any other player in the league. He also took part in 57% of Edmonton’s goals – the highest percentage for a single season in the history of the NHL. His teammate, Leon Draisaitl, won the award last year, and McDavid won in the 2016-17 season.
Matthews, 23, led the league with 41 goals and led Toronto to a top seed in its division for the first time in 20 years.
The Avalanche are well-represented in terms of finalists for league awards. Cale Makar was named a finalist Wednesday for the Norris Trophy and goaltender Philipp Grubauer was named a finalist for the Vezina Trophy last week.
The NHL is expected to announce the finalists for the Jack Adams Award for the top coach, and Jared Bednar could also be among them. The league is expected to announce the winners of the awards during the Stanley Cup semifinals and finals.
The Avalanche face elimination in Thursday night’s Game 6 against Vegas after an overtime loss earlier this week. The Denver Post reported Thursday morning that Bednar missed the morning skate because of “irregularity in his COVID test results.”