It’s important to remember that the Ted Lindsay Award, given to the NHL’s most outstanding player as voted on by the NHL Players Association, is a regular-season award. Why? That would be because the three nominees this year each find themselves firmly in their respective off-seasons while the second round of the playoffs marches on.
Auston Matthews, Connor McDavid, and Sidney Crosby were announced as the award’s trio of potential recipients by the NHL this morning, each presenting a compelling case as to why they should bring the hardware home.
For Crosby and McDavid, a Lindsay nomination is nothing new.
Crosby, in fact, was winning this award back when Lester B. Pearson served as its namesake – three of them, to be precise. The 33-year-old only continued his usual torrid production this season despite (conceivably) descending onto the back-nine of his prime, finishing with 24 goals and 38 assists for 62 points in a pandemic-shortened 55 games. More impressively, perhaps, is how Crosby managed to achieve those dazzling numbers while logging vital minutes in the Penguins’ top-six, leading all Pittsburgh forwards with 20:16 in average time-on-ice.
Sid may not be a kid anymore, but his play sure doesn’t act like it.
McDavid enters the nominations this year in search of a third Lindsay Award to match those adorning Crosby’s mantle. The Oilers captain put forth what might just be the greatest statistical season in modern NHL history in 2021, unthinkably cracking the 100-point plateau in just 56 games while also leading the league in assists with 72 and finishing second in goals with 33.
Put simply, there is nothing this kid can’t do. In the regular season, that is. Thankfully (for him), this is a regular-season award, and coming off a campaign that no one thought to be physically possible for a professional athlete, it’s hard to imagine the Lindsay going home with anyone else.
Unless, however, you happen to value goals above all else.
By racking up a whopping 41 goals in just 52 games, all while reportedly playing over a month with a wrist injury that many believed severely limited his ability to shoot the puck, Matthews has thrust himself into contention for the Lindsay Award with a bang.
The 23-year-old established himself as perhaps the best pure goal scorer in all of hockey this season, leading the Maple Leafs to the top of the North Division while also posting NHL-best totals in goals-per-game, even-strength goals, game-winning goals, and shots. When Matthews was on the ice, it was only a matter of time before the puck ended up in his opponent’s net.
With the players in charge of crowning a winner, this year’s Ted Lindsay recipient will likely show fans who the NHL’s most feared, and respected, player truly is.