The Magnitude of 50 Goals in Toronto Maple Leafs History

Auston Matthews #34 of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrates a goal (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
Auston Matthews #34 of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrates a goal (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /

Auston Matthews has a collection of impressive accolades. After being drafted first-overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2016, he won the Calder Memorial Trophy as the league’s top rookie. Last season, he earned the Maurice Richard Trophy. While it is impressive, he’s done something not seen in decades.

Toronto Maple Leafs center, Auston Matthews, has been chasing a historic mark for years. He has added his name to the history books by recording his 50th goal of the season. It’s not just special, it’s elite.

Two years ago, it looked like Matthews was on his way to making history. He had played 70 games and scored 47 goals. He was just three goals shy of 50 when the league was put on pause for COVID-19.

Last season, Matthews was on a torrid pace. He had notched in 41 goals in 52 contests, which is a rate of 0.82 goals per game. If he had played all 82 games, Matthews would have been on pace to record 67 goals. Unfortunately, once again, COVID-19 shortened the NHL season. The league played just 56 games and Matthews couldn’t reach that magical number.

Things have changed. Matthews is still lighting the lamp at an unbelievable rate, but this time, he has had the benefit of playing a full season. It turns out that is all he needed to finally reach 50 goals.

Why 50 is Historic

Matthews is the 93rd player in NHL history to reach the total of 50 goals in a season. He is just the fourth Maple Leafs player to achieve the milestone.

The closest any other players have come without reaching the mark are Frank Mahovlich, who in 1960-61 put 48 pucks past opposing goaltenders. Lanny McDonald buried 47 goals in 1977-78. In 2018-19, Captain John Tavares also had 47, which we know is the same total Matthews reached in 2019-20. Matthews now joins an elite club made up of Leafs legends Gary Leeman, Dave Andreychuk, and Rick Vaive.

In 1989-90, Leeman had a career year. Prior to that season, the most goals he had ever scored was 32 in a campaign. In that year, he potted 51. The right-winger was never the same after that. His highest total in the following six years in the NHL was 17.

Andreychuk surpassed 50 twice. His first time was in 1992-93, when he split time between the Buffalo Sabres and the Leafs. He had 54 that year. The following season, Andreychuk racked up 53 goals with Toronto. As impressive as that may be, it still isn’t as amazing as what Vaive managed to do.

Vaive had three consecutive seasons with more than 50 goals. In 1981-82, at age 22, the 1979 fifth-overall draft pick registered 54 goals. He followed that up the next year with 51. Then, in 1983-84, he notched 52.

Somehow, Vaive is not in the Hockey Hall of Fame. However, Andreychuk was inducted in 2017. With Matthews being just 24 years old and as dominant as he’s been, that could very well be in his future.

While Toronto Maple Leafs fans celebrate Matthews’ incredible accomplishment, the best may still be yet to come.