No player has eclipsed 80 goals in a single season since Mario Lemiuex in 1988-89, but Toronto Maple Leafs superstar Auston Matthews is on his way.
I know that number sounds crazy, but if anyone could average a goal per game this year, it’s Auston Matthews. He’s the greatest player in Toronto Maple Leafs history and is primed for a comeback season after having a terrible 40-goal (lol) season last year.
Matthews’ down-year was a career-year for William Nylander, a player looking for $9-10M AAV per season, so that should say everything you need to know about Matthews.
His $13.25M AAV contract is actually a steal when you think about it, as he deserves every penny of that contract, if not more.
The Toronto Maple Leafs Best Ever Player Could Score 80 Goals
Matthews has had hot starts before, but has never started with six goals in three games. His previous best starts were the following, which actually didn’t result in his best career season:
- Six Goals in six games: 2016-17 season
- Six Goals in seven games: 2017-18 season
- Seven Goals in four games: 2018-19 season
His best two season’s from a goal-per game perspective went like this:
- Six goals in nine games: 2020-21 season (Finished with 41 goals in 52 games)
- Six goals in 12 games: 2021-22 season (Finished with 60 goals in 73 games)
As you can see, it’s not how you start, but how you finish, and although Matthews’ previous hot-starts didn’t result in a Maurice Rocket Richard Trophy or a Hart Trophy, this year should be different.
The reason I think it’s going to be different this year is because he’s a little older and he’s been forgotten. If you look at a few list’s about who the best player’s in the NHL are, there were a few floating around where he wasn’t even in the top-five.
A few media members seemed to forget that Matthews is only one-year removed from his 60-goal, Hart Trophy season and is still clearly a top two or three player in the league. After re-signing in Toronto for four more years, Matthews is just reaching his prime and the best is yet to come.
If you thought 60 goals in 73 games was good, just wait and see, as Matthews is showing everyone just how good he can be, with two hat-tricks in his first three games. Matthews is clearly the best goal-scorer in the NHL and will do everything in his power to prove that he deserves to be a Hart Trophy candidate again.
So, back to the original point of 80 goals.
I know that number is absurd, but there’s no reason to believe that Matthews stops scoring. His shooting percentage is at 28 percent right now, which is 11 percent higher than his average was during his 60 goal season, so naturally he’ll cool down a bit.
However, if he reverts back to that shooting percentage from the 2021-22 season, he’s on-pace for 64 goals this year if he averages a similar amount of shots. I know that number is obviously less than the 80 I previously mentioned, but he’s playing penalty-kill minutes now, which could result in a few short-handed goals and could possibly get that average closer to 20 percent by year’s end.
If Matthews can keep cooking and get to a point where we’re talking about 50 goals in 50 games again, then I think anything is possible. Matthews has had that pressure before, so this isn’t new territory to him, so don’t be shocked if we’re looking at a crazy number of goals for him once again.
We’ll have to wait and see and what happens, but expect Matthews to continue to score at a high-rate and not only win the Rocket, but also contend for the Hart Trophy.