He’s only one game in, and the 2016 first overall draft pick is already making his way into the record books. Arizona native and Toronto Maple Leaf Auston Matthews scored an impressive four goals in his NHL debut against the Ottawa Senators; an NHL record. Matthews was the top prospect coming into this year, and he certainly seems to be living up to the hype.
This may be a major turning point for the Toronto Maple Leafs as they have not made the playoffs since the 2004 lockout. The Leafs haven’t had a franchise center since Mats Sundin left the team in free agency back in 2008. For a team that has suffered decades of mismanagement, poor coaching, and questionable signings of overpriced, over-the-hill veterans, this new version of the Maple Leafs is a breath of fresh air. Stepping onto the ice for the first time in their brand new jerseys, the Leafs, lead by rookies Auston Matthews, William Nylander, and Mitch Marner, along with superstar coach Mike Babcock, show exceptional promise and progression from last year. They no longer look like the deflated, bottom-of-the-standings team that they were last year, but instead are young, fast, and hungry for wins.
While they did lose last night in overtime, they are no doubt a much better team than in years past. The Atlantic Division has a lot to look out for in these upcoming years. The Maple Leafs, led by young superstars like Matthews, Marner, and defenseman Morgan Rielly, will be a highly competitive team. This is the perhaps most competent management group, coaching staff, and prospect pool the Leafs have put together since the Original Six era. They will only get better with time.
Matthews is the future for Toronto. He continues to impress at every level. Last year, Matthews finished second in voting for the MVP of the Swiss National League, scoring an incredible 46 points in 36 games as an 18-year-old. In ESPN’s World Cup of Hockey, the phenom showed that he could compete against the best players in the world, impressing players, coaches, and fans alike with his incredible play at both ends of the ice.
His second goal of the night last night displays his incredible hands, shot, and skating ability. Just watch:
Matthews first dekes out Mark Stone, then dekes out Mike Hoffman, puts the puck into the zone, and then he strips the puck from two-time Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson, one of the best defensemen in the game. He then powers to the net and fires a precise shot through Craig Anderson’s five-hole.
Auston Matthews will be a force in this league for years to come. He already has the mind and body of an NHL veteran. As he further develops his skill set, he will become deadly. Toronto has a superstar.