The start of the Toronto Maple Leafs season has been an up and down road so far. Excitement over top level forwards in Matthews, Marner, Nylander. Disappointment with sub par defensive play and shaky goal tending. I will touch on those in future posts because this post is about the potential next Leaf great Auston Matthews.
Matthews has been an offensive powerhouse anywhere he has played in the past most notably with the U.S. National U18 Team and while he played as a part of the ZSC lions of the Suiss league producing 24 goals and 46 points in 36 GP as an 18 yr old. Matthews has an endless list of pros but i hope to touch on a few cons below for leaf fans(myself included) to keep an eye on throughout the season.
–Elite hockey sense: He has the ability to know where to be to get pucks and create his own luck.
–Elite hands: more with his deking ability and keeping possession
–Great Skating: especially down low on the boards and the the ability to out maneuver opposing defense man
–Great shot: His wrist shot is lethal from anywhere on the ice, I have yet to see him really lean into a good slap shot so i will hold judgment on that but i assume it to be great as well.
–Size: at 6’3 216 lbs he has the ability to out muscle defense man down low and impose his will.
Defensive positioning: So far this season i think he has been getting better and better defensively. Covering for his defense man and not getting into bad positions
Physicality: He doesn’t use the body like i thought he would. He has the frame to bully guys out of the way, especially in a 1 on 1 battle for the puck down low but on most occasions he doesn’t. He relies upon his elite level hands to get possession which to say is not a bad thing at all and can potentially keep him healthy longer by not looking for a big hit down low, or getting tangled up. I personally would like to see him not shy away from those encounters as much as he does as i think it would make him an even better player. In 10 GP he has 1 hit.
–Face offs: Being a rookie this is perfectly normal for this to be an issue. Faceoffs are a learning curve in the jump to the NHL. 7 of his first 10 games he has been well below 50% on the draw.
Overall the start to his NHL career has not disappointed, his amazing 4 goal debut, Babcock slowly giving him more minutes every game. Producing chance after chance with 42 shots on net in 10 games and even his corsi CF% is at 56.7.( above 50% is what you want as its chances for vs chances against). In my opinion Matthews will sooner rather than later become one of the most dominant young players in the league, and may i say future captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs.