Top 5 Candidates for the 2022-23 Hart Trophy

At last — it’s September. The new NHL season is on the horizon following a thrilling playoff run that saw the Colorado Avalanche emerge as the Stanley Cup Champion.

What’s in store for 2022-23? And who will take home the honors as league MVP?

Officially, the Hart Memorial Trophy is an annual award given “to the player adjudged to be the most valuable to his team.” That wording is important: voters from the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association weigh a player’s role as well as his skillset and stats when they fill out their ballots at season’s end.

Those voters are required to rank their top five choices, in order. And while it’s still very early to lock in on which star will rise above the rest this year, here are five names that could figure prominently when the ballots are tabulated.

1. Auston Matthews – Toronto Maple Leafs

The NHL hasn’t had a repeat Hart Trophy winner since Alex Ovechkin went back-to-back in 2008 and 2009. But as he turns 25 this September, there’s every reason to think that Auston Matthews was finding his stride last season, rather than hitting a career peak.