Paul Bissonnette makes the MVP case for Auston Matthews.

Paul Bissonnette makes the MVP case for Auston Matthews.

The former NHL forward argues that Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews belongs in the Hart Trophy race.

Jonathan Larivee

There is perhaps no other National Hockey League season in recent memory in which there has been a more fierce competition for several NHL awards.

Multiple players around the league are having truly incredible seasons, most of which would make them a shoe-in to be the league's most valuable player in any other year, but the talk when it comes to the Hart Trophy has largely centered around 3 players. Those players are Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov, who appears destined to win the Art Ross with a sickening 141 points through just 79 games, Colorado Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon, who is the only player even close to Kucherov with 137 points on the season, and Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid, who admittedly has fallen out of the race after missing 3 consecutive games due to injury.

On Sunday however, former NHL forward Paul "Biznasty" Bissonnette took to the airwaves to make the case that Toronto Maple Leafs star forward Auston Matthews was a man who belonged in that conversation as well. Although much of the focus this season has been on Matthews hitting the 70 goal plateau, he currently sits at 69 goals with 2 games remaining on the calendar, Bissonnette instead pointed to Matthews' strong play at 5v5 as the primary factor for his decision to include Matthews in the Hart Trophy discussion.

"I think Auston Matthews has slowly crept up," said Bissonnette on Sunday. "When's the last time a guy has scored 50 five on five goals?"

The answer to that question is the legendary Teemu Selanne who scored 50 goals at even strength during the 1992-93 NHL regular season, pretty amazing company for Matthews to find himself in. Bissonnette argued that his even strength goals, combined with his solid defensive play, make him undeniable as a candidate for the Hart.

"What he is doing five on five and the way that he plays defensively, to put up these types of numbers, if he hits 70 I think that he truly has to be considered for the MVP," added Bissonnette.

Bissonnette believes that there is a 3 way tie for the Hart Trophy race at this stage of the season, meaning that the award could very well come down to shows up in the final games of the regular season. Perhaps most interesting of all however was just how close Bissonnette genuinely believes this race to be, with the former NHL forward revealing that he declined to vote on the award due to his indecision.

"I got asked to vote, I declined it," admitted Bissonnette. "This is too confusing for me... and I actually don't know the answer."