Avalanche’s Nathan MacKinnon named Hart Trophy finalist

For the second consecutive year and third time in the last four, Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon was named a finalist Thursday for the Hart Trophy, awarded to the “NHL “player judged most valuable to his team.”

MacKinnon is joined by Toronto’s Auston Matthews and Edmonton’s Connor McDavid as the three finalists for the award voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers Association.

MacKinnon averaged a career-best 1.35 points per game in putting up 20 goals and 45 assists in 48 games for the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Avs. He was third in the league in shots on goal (206), third in power-play points (25), fifth in assists and eighth in points (65), despite missing eight of the team’s 56 games.

He finished second in Avalanche scoring to linemate Mikko Rantanen, who had 66 points in 52 games.

This marks the third time MacKinnon has been named a finalist, including second-place finishes last season and in 2017-18. Only Joe Sakic (2000‑01) and Peter Forsberg (2002-03) have won the award in Avs franchise history.

McDavid is the likely favorite to win his second Hart Trophy after posting a league-high 105 points (32 goals, 72 assists) for the Oilers at an average of 1.88 points per game — the highest mark since Mario Lemieux averaged 2.30 in 1995-96.

Matthews led the league with 41 goals in 52 games to help the Maple Leafs claim the top seed in its division for the sixth time in franchise history and first time since 1999-00.

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