Auston Matthews, C
Hometown: Scotsdale, AZ
Draft Eligible: 2016 by Toronto Maple Leafs, 1st Overall
April 2017 – With his rejection of playing the World Championships, the Matthews rookie season is complete. He came, he scored, he threw some size around, made mistakes, showed growth in the faceoff circle and carried a team into the playoffs (which was well beyond most expectations). The stats are out there to analyze, but we look at what matters. He was a top-20-point producer, his production is sure to grow to point per game and challenge the top 5-10 of any given year and continue to be a top contender in Rocket Richard races for the next several seasons. He finished 8th in shots which is another stat that should swell as he learns to create room for himself and his supporting cast grows and becomes more lethal. The circle was his main drawback. At the start of the season, coach Babcock, defended him with limited faceoff opportunities about 10 per game, by December he was seeing over 15 per contest while winning in the low 40% and at season end he was starting with the puck almost half of the time. He doesn’t have to become a high-end NHL talent on draws, but if he can get to and stay in a mid-50 range he will create much more on offensive zone draws. After watching him game in and game out, especially in the playoffs I found him reminding me of Keith Tkachuk with more offense and none of the extra-curricular activities. Should his career go without any major hitches, he should contend Brett Hull for the top US born producer off all time (unless Patrick Kane gets there first). He doesn’t need further monitoring as everything he does is well documented and analyzed. For fantasy purposes, he should be a top 10 pick in almost any fantasy format going forward. Jason Banks
January 2017 – First and foremost let’s talk production, he is currently on pace for over 70 points thanks in part to a recent hot streak of 11 points in his last seven games. His shot rate is below my earlier prediction but is still high at 3.7 per game, while his minutes per game are increasing due to increased responsibility in the faceoff circle starting shifts in the defensive zone more often. The development curve is hitting new highs nearly every game and has resulted in him hitting the 20-goal mark very early as a rookie. His faceoff winning rate is a bit of a concern at 44.2% but not uncommon for even the best swingmen entering the NHL (John Tavares 47.5% and Sidney Crosby 45.5%). He currently is amongst the top 25 scorers in the league, another season or two he will be amongst the higher end of the top 10. Jason Banks
October 2016 – Well what more can we say about a four goal night. Better than expected (NHL record setting) results for a debut. Matthews was the complete focal point all night any time he was on the ice for viewers and the puck, but somehow managed to find seams in the Sen’s defense which is a skill in itself that is somewhat Ovechkin-like. He put on display his defensive skills a few times as much as his offensive attributes, yet he took responsibility for a soft defensive play that in part, lost his team the match. If the first game is any indicator he is likely to lead the Leafs in scoring as the puck very much follows him if he isn’t carrying it. For those wondering about expectations, lets pencil in 60-65 points which is far more modest than his current 328-point pace. One NHL record to keep tabs on that he may well approach this season is the single season shots on goal record currently owned by Phil Esposito at 550. He registered a half dozen on night one, puts him on pace for 492, which would be good enough for 3rd, sandwiched by Ovechkin’s 08-09 campaign of 528 and head of Ovy’s 446 in 07-08. There is no reason I see that he can’t get 5-8 shots per game even as teams adjust to him. Jason Banks
June 2016 – As expected, the Maple Leafs drafted Matthews first overall. He will make the team immediately and if the Leafs do not sign a center (or trade one), then Matthews – Nazem Kadri – Tyler Bozak will be your 1-2-3 centermen for the Leafs. In an effort to ease Matthews in, Kadri can shoulder the load for the first little while. But Matthews is so good and so ready that he will shoulder his way to the top very quickly. Dobber
June 2016 – Matthews had a draft year for the ages. As an 18 year old he dominated the Swiss League scoring 46 points in 36 games. The Arizona native led team USA twice at international tournaments scoring 11 points in seven games at the World Junior earning the Bronze, and another nine points at 10 World Championship games. Swiss Head Coach Marc Crawford called Matthews the best player in the Swiss League as an 18 year old and Matthews was the best player for USA at the World Championship on a roster that featured several veteran NHL players. Matthews proved to be NHL ready competing all season against former NHL and AHL and pro players in Switzerland and at the World Championship that he will step into a first line job in the NHL immediately. Peter Harling
December 2015 – Auston Matthews will be a vital member of Team USA's entry at the 2016 World Junior Championships in Helsinki, Finland as he returns after representing his country last season. Playing for the Zurich Lions in the Swiss League, Matthews has scored 14 goals and 25 points through 22 games. At the 2015 World Junior event, the Arizona native chipped in one goal and three points in five games for the Americans. Brendan Ross
December 2015 – Born two days past the 2015 NHL Draft deadline, Auston Matthews was unable to challenge Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel for the top spot but he surely would've been in the conversation based on his talents. In a rare move, Auston Matthews opted to play his current 2016 draft season in Switzerland with ZSC of the top professional league and he's established himself as a dangerous offensive threat. Matthews blends imposing size and power with impressive skill to compete as a strong two-way pivot. Possesses terrific hands and strength on the puck as he dominates possession, particularly below the top of the circle. He flashes intelligent vision, good creativity and high-end skating ability which all blend to create an impact forward in all three zones. There are few holes in Matthews game as this toolsy forward possesses all of the attributes that teams seek out in a number one centerman. Deemed NHL-ready, Matthews ability to carry the offence while providing excellent defensive presence makes him a lock to be selected first overall at the upcoming 2016 NHL Entry Draft. Brendan Ross
Fantasy Outlook: A+
Franchise two-way power centerman with point-per-game upside.
First 4 NHL goals in first game (the 2nd was the most impressive)
Auston Matthews – First five goals in Europe:
Auston Matthews – 2015 World Junior Highlights:
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