Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews finishing second in voting to Nathan MacKinnon for the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy marked the high point for the club in the NHL awards for the 2019-20 regular season. Leafs wingers William Nylander and Mitch Marner also received votes for the award for players “adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability", but the club did not make much of a footprint in the rest of the awards revealed on Monday.
Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen received one third-place vote and finished tied for 12th place with New Jersey’s rookie netminder Mackenzie Blackwood behind Winnipeg’s Connor Hellebuyck for the Vezina Trophy.
Matthews received six votes (eight points) and finished tied for 10th for the Hart Memorial Trophy behind winner Leon Draisaitl and finished tied for 16th for the Frank Selke Trophy, while linemate Mitch Marner received a fifth-place vote and finished tied for 33rd.
Congratulations to Leon Draisaitl of the Edmonton Oilers on winning the Hart Memorial Trophy for the 2019-20 season.
After receiving votes for the Selke and Hart last season, Leafs center John Tavares did not receive a vote for any major award, and Toronto players did not get any votes for the Calder Trophy (best rookie) or the Norris Trophy (best defenseman) after Andreas Johnsson finished in the top 10 last season and Morgan Rielly finished fifth behind Mark Giordano in 2019.
The most concerning is the absence of any Leafs defensemen in the race for the Norris, where 23 blueliners from various clubs received a vote, which is also worrisome to the hierarchy of the club. According to The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun, the top priority of GM Kyle Dubas is to upgrade the blueline after patchwork fixing the defense the last couple seasons.
Whether it is a trade for a blueliner like Matt Dumba or Aaron Ekblad, or pursuing a depth guy like Radko Gudas or a top-pairing stud like Alex Pietrangelo, the Leafs big splash before next season should and likely will be toward their biggest area of need.
*******If you are interested in sponsorship or advertising your business in the Greater Toronto / Southern Ontario area on this column, please send a message for more information by clicking on the “Contact” button at the top of the page.*******