As expected, Toronto Maple Leafs scoring machine Auston Matthews is among the three finalists for the 2021-22 NHL Hart Memorial Trophy together with Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers and Igor Shesterkin of the New York Rangers. Those three played incredibly in the regular season, and when asked for his pick to win the award, Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper, whose team is actively in a first-round Stanley Cup Playoffs series against the Maple Leafs, left little to the imagination.

Here’s what Cooper said about the matter, per Chris Johnston of TSN.

Matthews finished the regular season as the NHL’s top goal scorer with a career-high of 60 goals to go with 46 assists. His 106 points trailed McDavid’s 123 — the highest mark in the league — but of the two, Matthews clearly is the better scorer this season.

Live and breathe sports?

🚨 Get viral graphics, memes, rumors and trending sports news delivered right to your inbox with the Clutch Newsletter.

Matthews and McDavid have some sort of a Joel Embiid-Nikola Jokic MVP race between them. Like Jokic, McDavid won the MVP last year with Matthews finishing as runner-up. That could be the case anew this year if McDavid ended up with another Hart Memorial Trophy in the bag and Matthews places second anew. Igor Shesterkin, meanwhile, is also deserving, considering how he carried the Rangers on his back, notwithstanding his disastrous playoffs performance, so far.

Cooper is seeing first hand in the playoffs how lethal of a scorer Matthews is, as the forward already has three goals in five games in their series, which could end Thursday night with a Toronto win in Tampa Bay.