The Toronto Maple Leafs best player was having arguably the best season in franchise history.
The Toronto Maple Leafs weren’t having the best season, but franchise player Auston Matthews was having arguably the best season in the history of the team.
With the season on a pause, and the last 12 games in doubt of being played, Matthews will most likely not get the chance to break the franchise records he was likely going to.
Of course, there are more important things to worry about in times like these, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun thinking about what could have been.
Toronto Maple Leafs Best Player
Matthews has 47 goals and 80 points in 70 games.
He also leads the NHL in 5v5 goal scoring, and has a lower on-ice shooting percentage, and better 5v5 peripheral numbers than all his Hart Trophy Competition.
Matthews is/was on pace for 56 goals, with 60 being an outside possibility.
In order to set the record Matthews would need seven goals in his last 12 games. That is a lot, but it’s definitely doable.
Matthews wasn’t going to touch Frank Mahovlich’s 41 even-strength goals scored in 1961, but then again, scoring was way easier back then.
The fact is, it was easier when Rick Vaive did it too.
Matthews scoring today is probably closer to 70 or 80 back when Vaive put up his 54. That is a guess, but based on the fact that the NHL’s leading scorer that year had almost double the points as this year’s leader, I doubt it’s far off.
During Vaive’s record setting year, 12 players scored over 100 points, while Wayne Gretzky had over 200. That year Gretzky had 92 goals and Vaive was fifth in goal scoring.
This season, there was a very good chance that Matthews would lead the NHL In total goals and win the Rocket Richard trophy. He is currently one back of Ovechkin and Pastrnak, but is (as mentioned) the leader in the far more important category of 5v5 goals.
Matthews will most likely not be a finalist for Hart Trophy voting, but he is arguably the NHL’s best player this year. The anti-Toronto bias, combined with the fact that voters are almost certain to overrate Draisaitl’s gaudy point totals, will prevent it from happening.
Then again, there’s always the chance that the season will resume, Matthews will score another 13 goals in 12 games, finish the year with 60 and force voters to rethink their stance.
Whatever happens, I think it’s safe to say that because of his 5v5 goal scoring in a relatively low scoring era, and the fact that his advanced stats make a good case for him being the best player in the world, that this is the single greatest season a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs has ever had.
Without a doubt, I think it’s safe to say he’s already the best player in team history.