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NHL - US Sports: 2021-22 team of the season

The 2021/22 NHL season saw plenty of its stars shine bright, but there can only be one player for each position in the team of the year.

A difficult task, but here are our picks for each position.

G: Igor Shesterkin (New York Rangers)

Rangers' Igor Shesterkin was a very deserving winner of the Vezina Trophy as the league's best netminder and he was also a finalist for the Hart Trophy awarded to the NHL's most valuable player. 

The 26-year-old had a sensational regular season leading the NHL with a .935 save-percentage and 2.07 goals-against-average while tallying a 36-13-4 record and six shutouts.

Only three netminders in NHL history (min. 50 appearances) have posted a .935 save-percentage or higher in a single season.

Shesterkin was a huge reason for New York's second place finish in the Metropolitan Division and journey to the Eastern Conference Final where they were beaten by the Tampa Bay Lightning. 

In the playoffs, Shesterkin recorded 10 wins in 20 starts with a .929 save-percentage and 2.59 GAA.

D: Cale Makar (Colorado Avalanche)

Arguably the Avalanche's most influential player in their run to winning the Stanley Cup for the first time in over 20 years.

The 23-year-old scored 29 points (eight goals, 21 assists) in 20 games, ranking third in the post-season for points and was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player in the playoffs. 

The recognition followed him being named the James Morris Memorial Trophy winner as the best defenceman in the NHL's regular season. 

In 77 games, Makar led all blue liners with an astonishing 28 goals. He also had 58 assists for 86 points which ranked second to his defence partner in the NHL team of the season. 

Colorado are 4/1 to win the Stanley Cup next year.

D: Roman Josi (Nashville Predators) 

Josi smashed his career best points total over 2021/22, and also set single-season Nashville franchise records for points (96) and assists (73), as well as all-time franchise records for assists (402) and shots (2,153).

The 32-year-old led all NHL defenceman in assists (73), shots (281), even-strength points (59), power-play goals (11), points per game (1.2), multi-point games (26) and primary assists (36).

For his efforts, Josi was nominated for two of the NHL's most prestigious awards - the Ted Lindsay Award and the James Norris Memorial Trophy.

LW: Johnny Gaudreau (Calgary Flames)

Gaudreau racked up a career high 115 points, 40 goals and 75 assists over 2021/22 which has now been confirmed as his final season as a Calgary Flame. 

By far the biggest name in free agency, Gaudreau's most impressive stat was that 90 of his points came at even-strength, the most by any NHL player since the mid-1990's.

He also recorded a league-best plus-64 rating and came fourth in Hart Trophy voting. 

Gaudreau led the Flames with 14 points (three goals, 11 assists) in 12 playoff games.

The Flames made a huge contract offer to the 28-year-old, but he has decided to move on following eight years with the franchise - likely closer to his home on the East Coast.

C: Auston Matthews (Toronto Maple Leafs)

The Hart Trophy winner as the league's most valuable player, Matthews scored 60 goals to lead the NHL for a second season.

The impressive tally was the most ever by a Maple Leaf and the most by a player born in the United States in a single season.

The centre was the first to hit the milestone since Steven Stamkos scored 60 for the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2011/12.

Matthews tied Stamkos for sixth in the NHL with 106 points (including 46 assists) in 73 games, was first with 348 shots on goal and was fifth in game-winning goals (10). 

His red hot-form helped Toronto (54-21-7) to the most wins and points (115) in their history and qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the sixth straight season.

Matthews had nine points (four goals, five assists) in seven post-season games and he will hope to help his side win the Stanley Cup next year, for which are they 7/1.

RW: Mikko Rantanen (Colorado Avalanche)

Playing on a team with Nathan MacKinnon and Cale Makar et al. 25-year-old Rantanen often doesn’t get the credit he deserves, but no right-winger outperformed him over the 2021/22 season. 

Standing an imposing 6ft 4in, the Finn amassed 92 points (36 goals, 56 assists) in 75 regular season games, helping Colorado to win the Central Division (56-19-7). 

The 25-year-old's production level continued into the playoffs where he registered a fifth best 25 points (five goals, 20 assists) and was a pivotal reason for Colorado winning the cup.

Rantanen's offensive contribution was bettered only by Makar on the Avalanche in the post-season.

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