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Is Auston Matthews the NHL's Next Great Scorer?

A look at Auston Matthews' budding career as he turns 25 years of age

By Clyde E. DawkinsPublished 4 months ago 5 min read
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In 2021-22, Auston Matthews became the first Leafs player to score 60 goals in a season

The 2015-16 NHL season was the lowest point for Canada's franchises, as all seven teams missed the playoffs. The worst of Canada's teams just happened to be the Toronto Maple Leafs, who went 29-42-11 with 69 points, the worst record in the entire league. However, that season, as terrible as it was, was all by design. The Leafs tanked to get the #1 pick, doing so after the team developed a knack for giving away their top first round. This time it worked out, as the Maple Leafs used their top pick in the 2016 draft to select their next big star: Auston Matthews.

Auston Taylour Matthews, born on September 17, 1997 in San Ramon, California, made his NHL debut on October 12, 2016, and what a debut it was: four goals in one game! Matthews added 36 more goals, totalling 40 overall, with the 29 assists giving him 69 points total. The Leafs actually qualified for the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, but they were defeated in the opening round by the Washington Capitals (six games). In his first postseason, Matthews had five points, with four of them being goals. Despite their first round exit, this was a positive for the Leafs, as they were ahead of the curve when it came to their Stanley Cup aspirations.

For his efforts, Matthews won the Calder Trophy, and the following season (2017-18) saw Matthews rack up 63 points, with 34 of them being goals. The Leafs returned to the playoffs that year, but they lost a seven-game first round series to the Boston Bruins. As for Matthews, it was not a productive postseason; he only had a goal and an assist in seven games, though his goal was his first career playoff game-winning goal. The 2018-19 season was Matthews' third, yet he already surpassed the 100-goal mark in his career. Matthews put up 37 goals and had 73 points overall, leading the Leafs back to the playoffs. However, it was the same song: a seven-game first round loss to the Bruins. It did included a better performance, though: six points from Matthews--including five goals.

The 2019-20 season came to an abrupt pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but even in the shortened season, Matthews topped his previous season by racking up 80 points and scoring 47 goals. The Leafs finished as the #8 seed in the Eastern Conference and ended up playing in the Qualifying Round against the Columbus Blue Jackets, losing in five games. Matthews had six points in the series, scoring twice, including his first career playoff OT goal in Game Four--which saw the Leafs trail 3-0 only to win the game, 4-3. The shortened 2020-21 season saw Matthews score 41 goals and win the Rocket Richard Trophy; 41 goals in 56 games, absolutely amazing! The Leafs finished first in the localized all-Canadian North Division, and were considered favorites to win the Stanley Cup. We all know how that at ended for them, sadly. Leafs led 3-1 in their opening round series against the Montréal Canadiens, but they would lose the next three games. As for Matthews, five points in the series--one goal and four helpers.

And then there's the 2021-22 season. What a season that was for all teams and players concerned, especially Auston Matthews. This was the year that Matthews reached his first taste of hockey immortality. He scored goals left and right and in between. He was on his way to setting the season record for goals by a Leafs player, and he did just that in a game against the Dallas Stars, when he scored his 55th goal of that season, breaking a 40-year-old record set by Rick Vaive--Matthews scored his 56th in OT of that same game. Overall, Auston Matthews scored a grand total of 60 goals, the first Leafs players to score that many in a season, and the third player in the post-lockout era to reach that number. He also had 46 assists, totalling 106 points--his first 100+ point season of his career. Matthews had his best postseason as well: nine points, five of them goals, but unfortunately, the Leafs suffered another first round loss, this time to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Matthews won the Hart Trophy and the Ted Lindsay Award in 2021-22

Matthews collected a lot of hardware in the 2021-22 season, not only winning his second straight Richard Trophy, but winning the Ted Lindsay Award as well as the Hart Trophy (the latter being the NHL's MVP award). Auston Matthews is one of my favorite players, and I've thankfully had the pleasure of having him on one of my fantasy teams in the last two seasons. Being a wrestling fan, I can't help but refer to him as "Auston 3:16"; seriously, I'm surprised Stone Cold's theme doesn't play when he scores. Matthews has collected his share of trophies in his budding career, but the one that has eluded him so far is the Stanley Cup. He'll get that in due time, that's a guarantee.

Auston Matthews turns 25 years of age, and let's look at his numbers so far. 259 goals, 198 assists, 457 points total. 259 goals in just six seasons! Matthews is averaging about 43 goals per season, and those numbers have this hockey fan believing that he'll be the next to go after the goal scoring record, whatever that number is. Wayne Gretzky remains the league's top goal scorer, but Alex Ovechkin is threatening that total right now. In fact, that's my prediction: no matter what the number is, Matthews will surpass it. Matthews is clearly the best goal scorer in the league right now, and yes, I am saying that even with Ovechkin still in the league. His 60-goal season? That was in 73 games. He was on his way to scoring 70, I still say that! Matthews will continue to tear it up on the ice and score goals left and right, that's for sure, and as for the playoffs, well, I definitely see Matthews hoisting the Stanley Cup within the next few years, and he'll do it in a Toronto Maple Leafs uniform.

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About the Creator

Clyde E. Dawkins

Born on March 18, 1985. I am an avid fan of sports and wrestling, and I've been a fan of female villains since the age of eight. Also love movies--especially comedy and horror--and among my favorite TV shows are The Simpsons and Family Guy

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Comments (3)

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  • Gerald Holmes4 months ago

    Excellent and as a lifelong Maple Leafs fan I hope you are right.

  • Rick Henry4 months ago

    As always great details and professionally written. What a great tribute to Auston Matthews today (September 17, 2022) his 25th birthday. Good planning and timing.

  • Cathy holmes4 months ago

    You stole my heart with that last line, and I'm holding you to it!

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