Auston Matthews is what the Leafs needed

(Courtesy of Bruce Bennett, Gettys Images)

(Courtesy of Bruce Bennett, Gettys Images)

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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2016 Toronto Maple Leafs Draft Preview

(Courtesy of Maple Leafs Instagram)

(Courtesy of Maple Leafs Instagram)

TORONTO- The Toronto Maple Leafs are on the clock. The team will enter the 2016 NHL Draft with 11 draft picks, including the first overall selection.

During the 2015-2016 NHL season, the first year of the Maple Leafs’ overhaul rebuild, the team was bad. Really bad. They were a dull team that was doomed for failure. Head Coach Mike Babcock warned everyone that pain was coming.

President Brendan Shanahan was brought to the Maple leafs with an idea of a complete rebuild. Drafting and development were the key ingredients to turn this franchise around. They got rid of David Clarkson, Phil Kessel and captain Dion Phanuef to stockpile young prospects and draft picks. So the tear down complete, but the rebuild continues until they get back to the playoffs.

The 2016 NHL Draft Lottery was held on April 30th. After painful season of losing and misery, the Maple Leafs’ luck panned out and received the first overall pick for 2016. This is the 2nd time that the Leafs selected first overall since 1985 when they selected Wendel Clark.

Not only do the Leafs hold the first pick, but thanks to the work of team management, they hold a grand total of 11 draft picks (they used the 30th overall selection to acquired G Frederick Andersen from Anaheim Ducks).

Team Strengths:

Young Highly Skilled Prospects:

William Nylander and Mitch Marner are two of the top NHL Prospects. The two have the greatest potential to become game-changers and be among the league leaders in points. They, along with the 2016 first overall pick, will be relied upon to lead the Leafs to success.

Solid Depth of Impact Wingers

With James Van Reimdsyk on the team, the Maple Leafs have multiple depth of veterans and  youngster at the wing position. Connor Brown, Kasperi Kapanen, Brendan Leipsic and Jeremy Bracco represent a plethora of prospects who could be future second or third line wingers.

Teams Needs:

1) First Line Centre

The Maple Leafs can cross this off their checklist as it is very clear that they are going to take Auston Matthews. Although the Maple Leafs have stockpile a lot of young talent, there remains a lack of potential first or second line centers. William Nylander and Mitch Marner have played some centre during their development. However it seems like they are profile as wingers going forward. With the first overall pick, and likely Matthews, that department should be shored up.

2) Potential Top Pairing Defenceman

While Carrick and Zaitsev certainly have promising potential, the Maple Leafs don’t have a sure-fire, blue-chip prospect. With three picks in the first 31 at this year’s draft, one should be used to select an all-around defenceman to pair up with Morgan Rielly.

Most Likely Target:  Auston Matthews, C, Zurich Lions (Switzerland)

Matthews was a consensus to go first overall in this upcoming draft. He has the potential to become a franchise center that the Maple Leafs didn’t have since Mats Sundin. Matthews offers a complete game with skills, talent and poise. He has an electric shot which fires through traffic He is a creative player with a tremendous hockey IQ which allows him to have incredible vision and developing plays to create his own scoring chances or involving his teammates. Matthews is a strong skater with great speed. Matthews is a kind of player, who offers the Leafs a generational type player to build around with. He certainly has the ability to be a game changer and could make an immediate impact for the 2016-2017 season.

What Else Could Happen?

Look for the Leafs to trade veterans like Tyler Bozak, Joffrey Lupul and Jonathan Bernier to make more cap space and stockpile more young talent. With eleven picks, they can also trade some of their picks to move up in the draft or add more help in the blue line or add depth in the middle or goaltending.

Draft Strategy:

The Maple Leafs certainly have the tendencies to draft North American prospects, but GM Lou Lamoriello isn’t afraid to take a risk on a couple European prospects, especially from Sweden.. Look for the Maple Leafs to draft towards more skilled players as opposing to big and hard-hitting players. They rather go more skilled players than size and strength. They love creative players who can play a responsible to play two-way, not one-dimensional.