Matthew Knies Is About to Break Out
For some unexplained reason, head coach Sheldon Keefe has slotted in Toronto Maple Leafs rookie Matthew Knies on the third line, mainly with David Kampf and Max Domi.
While Knies has only played a handful of NHL games and came straight to the show from college hockey, he already does certain things at an NHL level.
He is a beast along the boards, using his large frame to block out opponents and win puck battles. He has great vision and patience, often finding an open teammate for a hard pass when other rookies would panic. He has a hard shot and works tirelessly.
Of course, he still makes rookie mistakes and needs to learn to defend NHL calibre players, but every young player has to go through a learning process.
The thing with Knies is that the skills he has seemingly already mastered are the perfect complement to what Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner need.
Someone who can win the puck and get it to his linemates, and someone who can convert the ridiculous setups those teammates provide into goals.
Those skills are wasted playing with lesser linemates such as Domi, and especially Kampf. Calle Jarnkrok is a decent overall veteran who isn’t a total loss on the top line, but doesn’t have the same level of offensive skill as Knies.
Additionally, Jarnkrok is better on the defensive side of things than Knies, and would be a better fit lower down in the lineup.
Part of what makes a good coach is the ability to best utilize whatever talent you’re given to work with.
As soon as Sheldon Keefe realizes that moving Matthew Knies to the top line is a good idea (and he’ll come to this conclusion sooner or later), Knies will likely break out and cement himself on that line for the remainder of the season.