Showcase Season for Americans
Teams from the United States have won the last 27 Stanley Cup titles and the Tampa Bay Lightning are eyeing a third title in a row, but when it comes to American-born players dominating in the NHL, it has been a different story.
A total of 13 American-born players have scored at least 30 goals this season, led by Auston Matthews’ 60-goal campaign. Coming off a season when New York native Adam Fox won the Norris Trophy as the top defenseman in the NHL, Matthews could join Patrick Kane as the only U.S.-born and bred player to be named the winner of the Hart Memorial Trophy according to the NHL betting odds.
Here’s a look at what has transpired this season with players born in the United States.
Matthews eyeing the Hart
It might surprise some people to realize that one of the first winners of the Hart Trophy as the Most Valuable Player in the NHL went to an American-born player.
Billy Burch, who was born in Yonkers, N.Y., and raised in Toronto, won the award with the Hamilton Tigers following the 1924-25 season. The next time a player who was born in the United States won the NHL’s most prestigious individual award came when Patrick Kane was honored following the 2015-16 season.
Kane remains the only player born and raised in the U.S. to win the Hart Trophy. There is a chance that could change this season.
Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs is the current leader to win the award at -400. Fellow U.S.-bred product Johnny Gaudreau has the third-best odds at +1200 behind Matthews and two-time winner Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers.
Matthews leads the NHL with 60 goals as he has helped Toronto finish second in the brutal Atlantic Division. The 60 goals are the most for a U.S.-born player in NHL history. Gaudreau’s 113 points are the third most for an American-born player. Pat LaFontaine holds the mark with 148 points during the 1992-93 campaign, followed by Kevin Stevens’ 123 points the previous season.
Brett Hull shows up on a lot of the lists for top scorer from the United States. However, Hull was born in Ontario, although he lived much of his life in the United States.
Strength in numbers
The first time that two U.S.-born players recorded 100 points in the same season came when Lafontaine had 105 points and Jimmy Carson 100 during the 1988-89 campaign.
During the 1992-93 season, Lafontaine was joined as a 100-point scorer by Stevens, Jeremy Roenick and Craig Janney. The four U.S.-born players with 100 points have not only not been approached since, but there hasn’t been two U.S.-born players to hit triple digits in regular-season points in the same season since.
That has changed in 2021-22.
Gaudreau has 113 points and is followed by Matthews at 106 and Matthew Tkachuk of the Calgary Flames is at 102. J.T. Miller of the Vancouver Canucks is at 97 points with two games left to play.
More U.S. Players Lighting the Lamp
It was considered a huge deal when Bobby Carpenter and Joe Mullen both topped the 40-goal mark during the 1983-84 season. Two years later, Mullen was joined by Scott Bjugstad and Dave Christian to make it three U.S.-born players with 40-goal campaigns.
A decade after Carpenter and Mullen became the first American-born players to score 40 goals in a season, five U.S. products topped that mark – Mike Modano, Jeremy Roenick, Stevens, Keith Tkachuk and Bob Kudelski.
Only once from 2001-02 to 2020-21 were there more than two U.S.-born players to light the lamp at least 40 times.
This season has been a goal-scorer bonanza for American-born NHL stars. Seven of them already have at least 40 goals and Gaudreau needs one more goal to reach that mark.
Matthews leads the way with 60 followed by Chris Kreider with 52. Kyle Connor (46), Matthew Tkachuk (41), Alex DeBrincat (41), Jason Robertson (40) and Jake Guentzel (40) are other members of the club.
The best news is that all of those players are in their 20s except for Kreider, who will turn 31 on April 30.
If Josh Norris hadn’t missed 16 games and if Jack Hughes hadn’t been limited to 49 games, they could easily hit the 40-goal mark as well.
Goal Scorers Have Company
While it is impressive seeing all the young Americans putting up points and goals, the goalies have been putting up some strong numbers as well.
There are 27 goalies with at least 20 victories this season and eight of them are U.S. products.
Thatcher Demko of the Vancouver Canucks leads the way with 33 wins, followed by the trio of Jack Campbell (31), Jake Oettinger (29) and Connor Hellebuyck (28). Jeremy Swayman has the best goals-against average and save percentage among the U.S.-born goalies to play at least 20 games this season.
Former Stanley Cup champion Jonathan Quick has had an impressive bounce-back season with 22 victories and has teamed with fellow American Cal Petersen to give Los Angeles two 20-game winning goalies this season.
Alex Nedeljkovic also reached 20 wins this season while John Gibson and Spencer Knight currently sitting at 18 victories.Follow us on Twitter