Auston Matthews has been the main topic of the NHL lately and I don’t blame them. Mathews led all rookies with 8-4-12 in 12 games, has been named the NHL’s Rookie of the Month for December.
This 19-year-old has been playing like a season veteran recording eight goals and four assists in just the 12 games during this month alone. He also ended the month on a five-game point streak, which he extended to six with a two-goal performance at the Centennial Classic on Sunday.
Babcock has mentioned that he would be a “dominant center” by Christmas and as always he was right.
Matthews currently leads all rookies in points (32) and goals (20) and he also won the honour be beating out fellow rookies Patrik Laine (6 goals, 6 assists), Matthew Tkachuk (1 goal, 11 assists), Sebastion Aho (4 goals, 5 assists) and Matt Murray (6-1-1).
As a 19-year-old.
If he maintains that pace, at least tops the 40-goal mark, it would put him in an exclusive club as only five players under the age of 20 have scored more than 40 goals in their first season in the league.
· Wayne Gretzky scored 51 goals during the 1979-80 season at the age of 19.
· Dale Hawerchuk scored 45 during the 1981-82 season at the age of 18.
· Mario Lemieux scored 43 during the 1984-85 season at the age of 18.
· Eric Lindros scored 41 during the 1992-93 season at the age of 19.
· Sylvain Turgeon scored 40 during the 1983-84 season at the age of 19.
Sidney Crosby just missed making this list in 2005-06 when he scored 39 goals at the ag e of 18.
Aside from the fact that there are only five players – including four Hall of Famers, is that all of them had those seasons during a time when goal scoring was at its peak in the league but Austin Matthews is not playing in such an ear.
The question for Matthews is whether or not he is going to be able to maintain this pace for the rest of the season, and so far he is only getting better and better and better and BETTER.
But the most encouraging thing for him right now is that he puts a ton of shots on goal and that’s one of key things the Leafs were missing from the team. That is the biggest factor in bringing a consistent, top goal scorer. The players that have huge goal scoring seasons that is carried by a high shooting percentage and low shots tend to push back the next year or cool down as that season progresses. And they do it through shot volumes, and as of now that’s is exactly what Matthews is giving the Leafs.
We all expect Matthews to challenge for the Calder, and most of us expect him to win. Remember, heading into the NHL Draft, the frequent comparison points for Matthews were John Tavares, Anze Kopitar and Jonathan Toews. None of those guys had ridiculous goal-scoring seasons at 19-year-olds: Toews had 24, Kopitar had 20 and Tavares had 24 (finishing fifth for the Calder).
None of these guys have broken 40 goals in the NHL, and they’re now all between seven and nine years older than Matthews.
With what Matthews is doing right now, I truly believe that he will rise above everyone all and make history. I cannot push and explain to how amazing this kid is.
Right now the Leafs are making a serious push for a playoff spot in the Atlantic Division, and what is looking to be a rather historic season for the No. 1 overall pick is playing a pretty massive role in it.