Colorado's Nathan MacKinnon is among three finalists for this year's Hart Trophy award, the NHL said Thursday

New York (AFP) - Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon, Toronto Maple Leafs star Auston Matthews and 2017 winner Connor McDavid were named as the National Hockey League’s three Hart Trophy finalists on Thursday.

The most prestigious individual award in the NHL, the Hart Trophy is presented to the league’s most valuable player and is chosen by the Professional Hockey Writers Association. The winner will be announced near the end of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

MacKinnon was named in the final three after helping the Avalanche finish with the best record in the NHL this season to book a playoff berth for the fourth straight year.

It is the second consecutive season MacKinnon has been named as a Hart Trophy finalist after finishing runner-up to Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl in 2020.

The Leafs’ Matthews, meanwhile, topped the NHL goal-scoring charts this season with 41 goals in 52 games, the first US-born player to achieve the feat in 24 years.

The 23-year-old center led the NHL in game-winning goals (12) and shots on goal (222), helping Toronto reach the playoffs for a fifth year running.

Edmonton Oilers captain McDavid, 24, meanwhile, led the NHL with 105 points on goals and assists, scoring at least one point in 45 of 56 games.