Leafs Failing to Take Advantage: Auston Matthews Was Better 2 Years Ago

St. Louis Blues v Toronto Maple Leafs
St. Louis Blues v Toronto Maple Leafs / Claus Andersen/GettyImages

The Toronto Maple Leafs are not having a great season, but the reason they are even close to being as good as they are in the standings is because of Auston Matthews.

Auston Matthews is on pace for over 70 goals, and is by far the best player in Toronto Maple Leafs history.

Matthews is having a great season, and for anybody else it would be the peak of their career.

But he was actualy better two years ago.

As Good As He Is Playing, Auston Matthews Was Still Better 2 Years Ago

Currently, Matthews is the first player to score 45 goals in his team's first 51 games since Mario Lemieux in 1996.

He also has 33 goals in his last 30 games and is on pace to score 50 goals in 50 games for the second time in his career. Even though it for some stupid arbitrary reason doesn't seem to count if you don't do it from the first game of the season, Matthews already accomplished the feet two years ago.

And in that season, the one where he won the Hart trophy as the NHL's MVP, he was even better than he is now.

I believe the only difference is that back then the Leafs were a better team, so he got more support, and specifically, the blue line was much better at moving the puck.

This year, a lot of his numbers are actually down, and I believe that is because the team is lacking decent puck movers on the back end.

Two years ago, Morgan Rielly was two years younger and probably slightly better. TJ Brodie was WAY better two years ago.

Justin Holl is no puck moving defenseman, but he's better at it than McCabe and Benoit, while Jake Muzzin, Rasmus Sandin and Travis Dermott were all decent puck movers and much better than any of their current replacements.

You cannot say the same thing about Mark Giordano, William Lagesson, Simon Benoit, Jake McCabe, TJ Brodie.

Auston. Matthews has somehow been on the ice for almost one-third of his 5v5 minutes with Simon Benoit. So technically, even though his numbers are down vs 21-22, he likely is even better this season because he is still scoring despite the atrocious coaching by Sheldon Keefe that has allowed that to happen.

Still, his on-ice numbers are way down.

In his MVP year, he was a 64% player, this year, his Expected Goals are 54%.

The Leafs were getting 63% of the scoring chances back then with Matthews on the ice, this year just 55%. Shots were 59%, this year, 56%. Puck possession 59% vs 53%. (naturalstatattrick.com).

As you can see, he's dropped down in everything besides raw production. He just isn't helping the team to the same extent that he did during his Hart Trophy season. With some additional puck moving defenseman - the Leafs biggest priority besides getting a goalie - he can most likely get back to where he was two years ago.


I think if you factor in how much he's playing with Simon Benoit, who absolutely destroys his team's ability to generate offense, Matthews is having a better season. That means that it's on Keefe and Treliving to make the most out of what Matthews does, and they are currently failing.