Lightning’s Nikita Kucherov a finalist for another NHL award

TAMPA — Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov received high marks from his peers earlier this season. On Wednesday, he was named one of three finalists for the Ted Lindsay Award, given annually to the league’s “most outstanding player” and selected by the players.

The other finalists are the Avalanche’s Nathan MacKinnon and the Maple Leafs’ Auston Matthews.

Kucherov’s nomination for the Ted Lindsay Award comes a day after he was among the final three for the Hart Memorial Trophy, awarded to the player “adjudged to be the most valuable to his team” by select voters of the Professional Hockey Writers Association.

Kucherov can become the first Lightning player to win the Ted Lindsay Award twice. He received his first Ted Lindsay in 2018-19, the same season he won his first Hart. The only other Lightning player to win the Ted Lindsay Award was Marty St. Louis, following the franchise’s first Stanley Cup-winning season in 2003-04.

The Ted Lindsay is the only award voted on by the members of the players association, making it uniquely special because the winner is selected by his peers. It is based on regular-season performance.

Kucherov led the league with 144 points, the second-highest single-season point total since 1995-96. He tied for the assists lead with 100, becoming just the fifth player to reach triple-digit assists in a season. He also became just the third player in NHL history to record a 40-goal, 100-assist season, joining Hall of Fame legends Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux.

Earlier this season, the annual NHLPA player poll selected Kucherov as the league’s top playmaker, his 28.47% of the players’ vote edging Connor McDavid’s 20.91. Kucherov also polled in the top five of the “forward players want on their team if they need to win one game” (fourth, 5.31%) and “best stickhandler” (fourth, 7.89%); McDavid was first in both categories. Polling was done during the first half of the regular season.

MacKinnon, also a Hart Trophy finalist, finished second behind Kucherov in points with 140, but led the league in even-strength points (92) and recorded a 35-game home point streak to open the season, second longest in NHL history (Gretzky, 40 games in 1988-89). MacKinnon is now a three-time finalist for the Ted Lindsay, but is seeking his first win.

Matthews, who is seeking his second Ted Lindsay in three seasons after winning in 2021-22, led the league with 69 goals, the highest single-season total among active players and the most goals in a season since Lemieux scored 69 in 1995-96. Matthews’ 51 even-strength goals were tied for the eighth-highest total in league history and the most since Teemu Selanne’s 52 in 1992-93.

The winners of the Hart and Ted Lindsay will be announced at the NHL Awards on June 27 at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Las Vegas.

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