Toronto Maple Leafs: Auston Matthews Is a God Among Men

It’s not enough that Toronto Maple Leafs franchise player Auston Matthews is a tall,  handsome stranger with a wonderful moustache, great fashion sense, and several million dollars in the bank.

On top of all that, he is the best player in the NHL and in Toronto Maple Leafs history.

Last night, Matthews scored his 40th goal of the season, and it was an unbelievable wide wrap-around that looked even better than it felt.  And it felt pretty damn good.

Matthews , who is not only looking to usurp Connor McDavid, but Paul Rudd as well, has 33 goals in his last 36 games.  During this time he has scored at a 130 point pace, and is only prevented from being the NHL’s overall scoring leader because he played two less games than J.Huberdeau.

Toronto Maple Leafs and the Future Hart Trophy Winner

Matthews is currently the NHL’s leading goal scorer, and he is only seven points off the scoring title, and has played four less games than Draisaitl. He has a 59% Corsi, the Leafs get 58% of the shots and have outscored the opposition by 14 goals when he’s on the ice, which has actually been slightly unlucky, because he has a 63% Expected Goals Rating. 

Note: That 63% Expected Goals rating is the best in the NHL *(minimum 800 Minutes).

It doesn’t matter how you slice it – Auston Matthews is the Hart Trophy front runner right now. The closest competition is a goalie who has only played 37 games, and three players who score a ton but don’t know how to play defense (two of which might actually miss the playoffs, while the other one’s team actually does better without him on the ice).

Auston Matthews is an elite defender, and will be the runner up to Patrice Bergeron in the Selke Award this year.

With his 40th goal last night, in his 53rd game, and the Toronto Maple Leafs  56th, is on pace for 59 goals.  However, he should blat right by that if he stays healthy, because after off-season wrist surgery, he scored just once in his first six games this year.  If you ignore those games, he’s on a 70 goal pace.

And the crazy thing is that he looks like he could one day score 50 in 50, or even take a shot at 80 goals.  I wrote that a couple years ago and people called me insane, but it looks pretty damn possible right now.

Consider this: his current shooting percentage is 16.74 and his career shooting percentage is 16.28.  So just imagine if, as will likely happen, he one day has a season where he gets hot and outperforms his career average for most of the year.

In conclusion, Matthews (10th) only needs 21 more goals to pass Wendel Clark (8th) on the Toronto Maple Leafs all-time goal scoring list, something which he will do in roughly 200 less games, in an era when scoring is way harder.  It used to be sacrilegious to say that anyone besides Connor McDavid was the NHL’s best player, but Matthews has passed him.

He is going to be the first Toronto Maple Leafs player since the league expanded beyond six teams to win the Hart Trophy.   Who knows, he might even win the Conn Smyth.