Auston Matthews the odds-on favorite to win Maurice "Rocket" Richard trophy

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February 25th, 2021

Auston Matthews was well on his way to a 50-goal season last year, when the COVID-19 pandemic suddenly shut down the sports world. 

He has hasn't missed a beat in 2021. He has scored at a rapid pace to lead the NHL, which puts him in the driver’s seat to win the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy as the league’s top goal scorer. 

Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy 2020/2021

Tue, May 11 2021, 4:03 AM

Matthews, Auston


McDavid, Connor


Pastrnak, David


Draisaitl, Leon


Boeser, Brock


Toffoli, Tyler


Stamkos, Steven


Marchand, Brad


Scheifele, Mark


Pavelski, Joe


A look at Matthews’ red-hot start to this season 

Matthews has played in 20 games this season, as the Maple Leafs approach the midway mark of their campaign, and he is nearly on a goal-a-game pace, with 18.

He wasn’t even on that pace a year ago, when he scored 47 goals in 70 games. At that point, days before the league shut down, 50 goals seemed inevitable.

It’s difficult to imagine he could find room to improve on that rate, and yet Matthews appears up to the challenge. 

Matthews has always been an elite scorer in the NHL, with a 16.2 shooting percentage. But this season he has scored on 22% of his shots and has helped the Maple Leafs get into the conversation as a Stanley Cup contender. They have the second-lowest odds to win the championship, as of Thursday, which is a move up from last week. 

Are there any challengers in the Richard Trophy race?

The gap between Matthews and the rest of the field is sizable, but the Richard Trophy is not yet out of reach for some trying to catch up with the Maple Leafs’ super star. 

Connor McDavid sits in second, with 13 goals, followed by Brock Boeser of the Vancouver Canucks and Tyler Toffoli of the Montreal Canadiens, who each have 12. 

McDavid’s odds to win the Richard Trophy are +900, and he is heating up. He has four goals — including a hat trick — in his last two games, after a considerable slump through the first half of February. 

McDavid is an amazing player, and the frontrunner for the Art Ross Trophy, which goes the league's top point producer, but Matthews has been the more potent scorer since they joined the league in 2015 and 2016, respectively. 

What is interesting in this race is that Matthews has apparently been dealing with a wrist injury throughout the season, which makes his accomplishments even more remarkable. 

It also may lead to some doubt Matthews can maintain this torrid pace. Could this issue open the door for someone like McDavid to get into contention for the Richard Trophy?

As well as Matthews has played, the race for the Richard Trophy is not a gimmie.