TORONTO- With the first pick of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, the Toronto Maple Leafs selected their new face of the franchise, Auston Matthews. After many months of speculation, the Maple Leafs put all of the hype aside and selected the big American product from Scottsdale, Arizona.
Selecting Matthews was a no-brainer for the Maple Leafs as he became their new first line centre since Mats Sundin. The 18-year old American played for the Zurich Lions in the Swiss League last season, registering 24 goals and 46 points in 36 games. This was an outstanding pick by the Maple Leafs as they possible landed a potential superstar for many years to come.
Here is a scouting report of Matthews:
Body: Has a big body frame and knows how to use it.
Skating: Agile skater with very good speed and agility for his size.
Skills Set: He is so polished and poised. Can generate his own scoring chances. Great puck handling skills.
Hockey I.Q.: Creative distributor with the puck with great offensive awareness.
Weaknesses: Can he live up with all of the media attention and the hype in a big market team like Toronto. Not totally aggressive but he will use his size to game advantage.
Overall: Matthews is the ultimate package when you combine all of that with his exceptional work ethic and relentless compete level. He has a great combination with speed, size and scoring ability.
ETA: 2016-2017. Matthews will make an immediate impact for the Leafs this season. Leafs’ head coach Mike Babcock projected Matthews to play as a third-line centre. Matthews can bump up the depth chart once he gets acclimated in the NHL.
Fun Fact(s): Matthews is half Mexican.
Matthews fits perfectly going forward for the Maple Leafs rebuild. The young squad gain a generational type of player to build around. With William Nylander and Mitch Marner playing along side him, the team could potentially form into a very nice tandem for many years to come. Who knows, maybe Steven Stamkos may want to join this nucleus of youth.
The rebuild continues to roll along as Brandon Shanahan and Lou Lamoriello are still looking for young talent to help stabilized their overhaul rebuild. Now that Matthews is officially a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs, this selection is a tremendous step forward. Look out Leaf Nation, Matthews is coming to town.