Connor McDavid's dominant 2020-21 season left little room for doubt when it came to naming this year's NHL most valuable player.
The Edmonton Oilers captain picked up his second career Hart Trophy on Tuesday and, just as it was when he won this season's scoring race, he left the runner-up in the dust.
McDavid received first-place votes on all 100 ballots, becoming just the second unanimous winner of the award. The other was another Oilers superstar centre. Wayne Gretzky swept all 63 first place votes in 1981-82 following his 92-goal, 212-point season.
Toronto Maple Leafs centre Auston Matthews who earned 69 second-place votes and was named on 98 of the 100 ballots, finished second to McDavid with 600 voting points -- 400 behind McDavid. Colorado Avalanche centre Nathan MacKinnon was third at 313.
McDavid dominated the 2020-21 scoring race with 105 points (33 goals, 72 assists) in 56 games -- 21 more points than Oilers teammate Leon Draisaitl, who won the award last year.
The 24-year-old from Newmarket, Ont., -- who won the Hart Trophy in 2016-17 and finished third in voting in 2018-19 -- is the fifth player in NHL history to capture the award multiple times before his 25th birthday after Wayne Gretzky (6x), Bobby Orr (3x), Gordie Howe (2x) and Alexander Ovechkin (2x).
McDavid's win also makes the Oilers the first team with different Hart Trophy winners in consecutive seasons since the Boston Bruins in 1968-69 (Phil Esposito) and 1969-70 (Bobby Orr).
McDavid also won the Ted Lindsay Award, awarded to the league's most outstanding player as voted on by members of the NHL Players' Association, for the third time in his career.
“To have your fellow peers recognize you, it really means a lot," McDavid said in his acceptance speech for the Lindsay award. These are the guys you go up against each and every night, and battle hard against, and for them to recognize you, it really is a special feeling. I just feel so humbled and grateful to have won this award a few times."
In other awards, Vegas Golden Knights netminder Marc-Andre Fleury won the Vezina Trophy as top goaltender, Adam Fox of New York Rangers took the Norris Trophy as top defenceman and Minnesota Wild forward Kirill Kaprizov won the Calder Trophy as top rookie.
Fleury, a first-time Vezina finalist, ranked third in the NHL in wins (26), goals-against average (1.98), save percentage (.928) and shutouts (six) in 36 appearances.
Fleury earned 108 voting points, edging 2018-19 Vezina Trophy winner Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Tampa Bay Lightning (99 points). Philipp Grubauer of the Colorado Avalanche ranked third with 36 points.
Fox had five goals and 42 assists in 55 games with the Rangers with a plus-19 rating and 14 penalty minutes. He led NHL defencemen in assists, ranked second in points and power play assists (21), tied for second in power play points (23) and ranked third in takeaways (38).
Cale Makar of the Colorado Avalanche was second with 655 points, while Victor Hedman of the Tampa Bay Lightning was third with 433 points.
Kaprizov led his team, and NHL rookies, in goals (27) and points (51). He was a near-unanimous winner, receiving 99 of 100 first-place votes and one second-choice selection for 997 voting points.
Dallas Stars forward Jason Robertson, ranked second with 689 voting points, followed by Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic (386 points).
McDavid, Vasilevskiy, Fox and Makar were named to the NHL's first all-star team, along with Toronto forward Mitch Marner and Boston forward Brad Marchand.
Fleury, Hedman and Matthews were named second-team all-stars, along with Carolina defenceman Dougie Hamilton, Colorado forward Mikko Rantanen and Florida forward Jonathan Huberdeau.
Kaprizov, Robertson and Nedeljkovic were named to the all-rookie team alsong with New Jersey defenceman Ty Smith, Rangers defenceman K'Andre Miller and Ottawa forward Josh Norris.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 29, 2021.