Auston Matthews by James Tanner
Auston Matthews is probably already the best player in the history of the Toronto Maple Leafs. If he isn’t, give him another two years and they’ll be no debate.
The only thing holding him back is a series of unfortunate injuries. He missed 20 games last year, and 14 this year. Other than that, he’s probably one of the best two or three players in the NHL.
Matthews leads the NHL in 5v5 goals per 60 minutes since he entered the NHL. Last season he was sixth.
Matthews is fifth in the NHL in 5v5 points per 60 minutes since entering the NHL. Last season he was 11th. (Stats naturalstattrick.com)
The slight drop in production relative to the league is easily explained: Matthews most common winger this season was Kasperi Kapanen, who had one goal and two assists in his last 14 games of the season.
Kapanen simply can’t score at a first line rate, while Nylander and Matthews combine to be the highest scoring 5v5 pairing in the NHL.
Overall, Matthews‘ injuries aren’t his fault. It’s not his fault that Babcock doesn’t give him the ice time he deserves. Having to play with Kasperi Kapanen isn’t his fault. He scored 37 goals and 73 points in just 68 games. He is the Leafs best player, and one of the best players in the NHL.
He get’s an A+.