Toronto Maple Leafs: Can Matthew Knies Win the Calder?

Apr 10, 2023; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs left wing Matthew Knies (23) looks on during the first period against the Florida Panthers at FLA Live Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 10, 2023; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs left wing Matthew Knies (23) looks on during the first period against the Florida Panthers at FLA Live Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports /
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Mar 9, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins left wing Tyler Bertuzzi (59) skates against the Edmonton Oilers during the third period at the TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 9, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins left wing Tyler Bertuzzi (59) skates against the Edmonton Oilers during the third period at the TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports /

Toronto Maple Leafs: Internal Factors

Given the acquisitions of Tyler Bertuzzi and Max Domi, whether Matthew Knies has a chance at the Calder trophy will be largely dependent on where they play.

Does Bertuzzi find chemistry on the top line?

Is he the team’s first choice to play there, or does Knies get a shot?

Is Domi seen as a top-six winger or third line winger/centre?

How these questions get answered will greatly effect Knies’ playing time, as he would likely need top six minutes at the minimum to compete for the rookie of the year trophy.

If he doesn’t spend a substantial amount of time in the top-six, his chances drop significantly.

Not only will his quality of teammates be considerably lower but his ice-time will suffer. Of course, he will need to prove that he is ready for top-six minutes.

Based on how the Leafs have handled young players like Nick Robertson, Rasmus Sandin, and Timothy Liljegren, there is no reason to believe they won’t take a merit-based approach. In fact, he may be more likely to play lower down the lineup due to the fact he’s a young player given the recent examples listed above.

However, if he is able to find himself on the first or second line playing with either the Matthews-Marner or Tavares-Nylander duos, he will have a chance.

His play in the playoffs alone proves this, through seven games he scored one goal and three assists. Although the postseason is a different game and it’s hard to extrapolate anything from a seven game sample size, he produced at a 0.57 points-per-game (PPG) pace. Over a full 82 game season, that would work out to 47 points.

As well, we have seen many good examples in recent seasons of top NCAA standout prospects who have transitioned well to the NHL game. One is 2023 Calder winner, Matty Beniers. Can Knies follow in his footsteps?