“The Toronto Maple Leafs will never win the Stanley Cup with Auston Matthews on the roster.” “Auston Matthews isn’t the kind of player a team needs to win in the playoffs.” These are the types of comments you might come across these days when browsing through the offseason hockey chatter.
Makes perfect sense to me. Why would the Toronto Maple Leafs want a guy who has won the Calder Trophy, Hart, Ted Lindsay, and two Rocket Richards? And scored 60 goals the season before last? The thinking seems to be that “he hasn’t led the Leafs to the Cup yet, so obviously he can’t”.
Fans often forget just how hard it is to win the Stanley Cup. Top scorers who never won one include Marcel Dionne, Gilbert Perrault, Dale Hawerchuk, Pavel Bure, Daniel & Henrik Sedin, and Phil Housley, among many others. I hear many of you replying that you need “skilled grit guys” more than pure scorers.
Well, are Cam Neely, Dale Hunter, Keith Tkachuk, Eric Lindros, Jeremy Roenick, Trevor Linden and Jarome Iginla gritty enough for you? Not a single Stanley Cup ring in the bunch.
Auston Matthews is the Playoff Player the Toronto Maple Leafs Need
“Okay, but Matthews disappears in the playoffs, just when the Leafs need him most.” Auston Matthews’ career playoff stats show a line of 22G, 22A, 44 Pts in 50 games (all stats per hockeydb.com). Almost a point per game at the time of year when tight checking increases, powerplays are scarce, and overall scoring is at a premium. Take a look at playoff stats for the legends listed above, and you’ll consistently see career results very similar to what Matthews has achieved so far.
Also, if you look at his expected-goals, his chances per minute and all sorts of other advanced stats, he’s outperformed his point-totals (which are largely goalie-dependent) by a mile.
If the numbers are there, what is it about Matthews that makes some people question his worth? I think this season in particular we saw a direct comparison to a different type of player, in the person of Matthew Tkachuk. The kind of player who scores, hits, agitates, fights and drives opponents crazy. A guy who wears his emotions on his sleeve. The type of player every team would love to have.
Tkachuk does a lot of things Matthews doesn’t. Would I trade Auston Matthews straight up for Matthew Tkachuk? Not a chance.
Matthews is an elite goal scorer (.62 goals per game, career). Tkachuk is a good goal scorer (.38 GPG, career). All the other physical stuff Tkachuk brings can be supplied by Toronto Maple Leafs not named Auston Matthews.
Many fans seem to think a team has to be filled with old school, tough, physical players in order to succeed in the playoffs. Although there is still a place in the game for those types of players, the game has evolved.
Teams need speed, skill, size, intelligence, good systems, goal scoring, and good goaltending. The last two items are the hardest to find. Auston Matthews provides scoring in spades. Why would you ever question his value to any team?