NHL Awards: Matthews wins Richard, McDavid claims Art Ross
The 2021-22 NHL regular season is officially in the books following the Winnipeg Jets 4-3 win over the Seattle Kraken on Sunday afternoon.
We will have to wait a few weeks to see who wins the majority of the NHL’s awards for the 2021-22 season, from the Stanley Cup to the MVP, but we do know at least a handful of the individual and team awards that have already been secured. That includes individual awards like the Art Ross Trophy and Rocket Richard award, and team awards like the Presidents’ Trophy and William Jennings Trophy.
Here we take a look at those four winners and how they ended up getting there.
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Art Ross Trophy (scoring champion): Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers
Florida Panthers forward Jonathan Huberdeau gave McDavid quite a run here, but in the end it was McDavid winning the fourth Art Ross Trophy of his career and his second in a row. McDavid finished the season with 44 goals and 123 points, establishing new career highs in both categories. He is the only player to win the award two years in a row since Jaromir Jagr did so back in the late 90s, and McDavid has actually won it back-to-back times on two separate occasions. He also joins an incredibly small list of four-time scoring champions that includes only him, Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Jagr, Stan Mikita, Gordie Howe, and Phil Esposito.
His 123 points are the seventh most in a season over the past 25 years, while he is just the fifth different player since 2000 to top the 120-point mark in a single season, joining Sidney Crosby, Nikita Kucherov, Joe Thornton, and Jagr.
Rocket Richard Award (goals leader): Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs
Matthews has now taken over the crown as the best current goal scorer in the NHL, winning his second consecutive Rocket Richard award. He set a Maple Leafs franchise record for goals in a single season and became the first play in more than a decade to score 60 goals in a season. He is only 24 years old and just completed his sixth season in the NHL but he already has 259 goals in only 407 regular season games. That averages out to a 52-goal pace per 82 games. The only thing that prevented him from reaching the 50-goal mark prior to this season were shortened seasons and injuries.
William Jennings Award (fewest goals allowed): Frederik Andersen and Antti Raanta, Carolina Hurricanes
The Carolina Hurricanes took a bit of a gamble this season by completely overhauling what was a very productive goalie situation a year ago. They let Alex Nedelkjovic and Petr Mrazek go over the offseason and replaced them with Frederik Andersen and Antti Raanta. Both goalies have been excellent starters throughout their careers but had been held back by injuries in recent seasons. The gamble was whether or not they could be healthy and play to their past levels all season. For the most part, they did. Andersen and Raanta helped the Hurricanes allow just 202 goals during the season, the lowest mark in the league. They combined for a .916 save percentage on the season.
Andersen finished with a 35-14-3 record and .922 save percentage in his 52 appearances, while Raanta went 15-5-4 with a .912 save percentage in his 28 appearances. Given the overall strength of Carolina’s forwards and defense the play of its goalies was going to be the big X-factor for the season that made or break how it went. The goalies ended up being outstanding, the Hurricanes were the best defensive team in the league, and ultimately won the Metropolitan Division. The only concern is that both Andersen and Raanta have been dealing with some injuries over the past couple of weeks just as the Stanley Cup Playoffs are set to begin.
Presidents’ Trophy (best regular season record): Florida Panthers
All season it seemed like the Colorado Avalanche were on track to win the Presidents’ Trophy with the league’s best record, but then a 13-game winning streak by the Florida Panthers helped push them into the top spot in the league. This is the first time in franchise history the Panthers have finished with the league’s best record, and it came in a season where they had one of the best offenses the league has seen in decades. They are the first team since the 1995-96 Pittsburgh Penguins to average more than four goals per game over a full season.
Now they had to do something they have not done since that same 1995-96 season: Win a playoff round. The Panthers are going to be heavy favorites in the Eastern Conference thanks to their offense and the way they have played down the stretch. Whether or not they can continue that same scoring pace -- or a similar scoring pace -- in the playoffs remains to be seen, while they also have some concerns in goal given Sergei Bobrovsky’s career playoff struggles and the way he and Spencer Knight have performed in the second half of the season.