Ted Lindsay Award winner debated by NHL.com

There isn’t much separating the three finalists for the Ted Lindsay Award.

Roman Josi of the Nashville Predators had a season that was the envy of defensemen across the NHL and approached statistical heights reached by only the game’s truly elite players.

Center Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs, despite missing nine games, became the first NHL player to score 60 goals in a season since Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2011-12.

What more can be expected of Connor McDavid, the uber-talented center for the Edmonton Oilers? He’s won the Lindsay three times in his previous six seasons, to go with winning the Hart Trophy (voted as most valuable player) twice and the Art Ross Trophy (leading scorer) four times, including this season. Yet somehow McDavid found a way to put up NHL career highs in goals (44), assists (79), points (123), power-play points (44), overtime goals (four) and shots (314).

But who is the most outstanding player in the NHL for this regular season, as voted by fellow members of the NHL Players’ Association? We’ll find out when the winner is announced during the 2022 NHL Awards in Tampa on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; ESPN, SN, TVAS), but in the interim, NHL.com asked a writer to make a compelling argument for why each finalist should win.

Roman Josi, Nashville Predators

The Predators would not have made the Stanley Cup Playoffs if not for Josi’s performance this season. He did everything for them. He was the most outstanding player in the NHL when you consider the minutes he played, his team’s production with him on the ice and how impactful he was. Josi had 96 points (23 goals, 73 assists) in 80 games, tied with Ray Bourque (1983-84, Boston Bruins) and Paul Coffey (1982-83, Oilers) for the 17th most points by a defenseman in an NHL season. He was four points short of becoming the sixth defenseman in NHL history to reach 100 in a season. Bobby Orr did it six times. Coffey did it five times. Al MacInnis, Brian Leetch and Denis Potvin each did it once. Josi was in that company this season, and it was the biggest reason the Predators had the second best offensive season in their history, scoring 3.20 goals per game (they averaged 3.24 in 2006-07). They also had the best power play in their history at 24.4 percent, tied for fifth with the Florida Panthers. Josi averaged 25:33 of ice time per game, eighth most in the NHL. He led defensemen in assists (73), points (96), shots (281), even-strength points (59), power-play goals (11), points per game (1.20), multipoint games (26) and primary assists (36). He was second with 23 goals (Cale Makar, Colorado Avalanche, 28) and 37 power-play points (Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning, 38). Josi factored into 58.7 percent of Nashville’s 63 power-play goals. It was a performance for the ages. — Dan Rosen, senior writer

Video: COL@NSH, Gm3: Josi rips a PPG from the blue line

Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs

As impressive as Josi’s season was, Matthews had an even bigger historical impact for one of the NHL’s most storied teams. The center scored goals at a rate that the League hadn’t seen in more than 20 years, finishing first with 60 in 73 games for an average of 0.82 per game. The last player to come close to that pace and score more than 20 goals in a season was Mario Lemieux, who scored 35 goals in 43 games for an average of 0.81 per game after he came out of retirement with the Penguins in 2000-01. During a 50-game stretch from Nov. 24 to April 9, Matthews scored 51 goals to become the ninth player in NHL history to score 50 in 50 games at any point in a season and first since Lemieux in 1995-96. Matthews shattered the Maple Leafs’ single-season record held by Rick Vaive, who scored 54 goals in 1981-82. The native of San Ramon, California, also broke the single-season NHL record for a United States-born player of 55 goals, which was shared by Kevin Stevens (1992-93, Penguins) and Jimmy Carson (1987-88, Los Angeles Kings). A complete player, Matthews tied Stamkos for sixth in the NHL with 106 points (46 assists) to help Toronto (54-21-7) earn the most wins and points (115) in its history and qualify for the playoffs for a sixth straight season. He led the NHL with 348 shots and was fifth with 10 game-winning goals. He tied for third in the NHL with 16-power-play goals, which led Toronto’s top-ranked power-play (27.3 percent). — Tom Gulitti, staff writer

Video: DET@TOR: Matthews scores his 60th in two-goal night

Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers

There were so many personal-best seasons to love and admire in the NHL this season, and it’s heartening to see Josi finally start to earn wider recognition for the quality of player he is. Matthews’ production was to marvel at this season; he’s as pure a shooter as the League has in this era. But McDavid is widening the gap between himself and the runners-up for this award. Who plays the game with more speed, vision and execution than McDavid? Nobody. Who outproduced him offensively this season? Nobody. Who strikes more fear into opponents and causes them to modify their game plan, sometimes repeatedly in the same game? Nobody. Winning his fourth Art Ross Trophy, he only set the bar higher for himself while increasing his versatility in every area of ​​the ice. Nobody in the NHL stirs the drink like McDavid does in Edmonton, and though there are some remarkable stars performing in the League today, the competitors themselves know who the most outstanding player is. — Tim Campbell, staff writer

Video: EDM@CGY, Gm5: McDavid sends Oilers to next round

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