While there seems to be plenty of blame to go around after the Toronto Maple Leafs lost their second game in a row last night, and the third of their last four, one insider is placing a lot of it at the feet of Auston Matthews. Steve Simmons had several choice words about the Leafs highest paid player (and the third highest in the league) in his latest column in the Toronto Sun, saying the player Toronto choose to invest heavily in is looking “rather ordinary” and nothing like “a player who is supposed to move mountains.” Check it out:
“The Leafs paid him (Matthews) $11.6 million a year, the third-highest number in the NHL, because they absolutely believe he is that kind of top-level performer. In the first seven games of this season, he scored six goals. In the past 12 games, he has just three. And that is with linemate William Nylander playing some of his best hockey as a Leaf.
And I know that almost all great goal-scorers are streaky, but against Colorado on Wednesday night and against Philadelphia on Tuesday, Matthews had just a few decent scoring chances. And they all came late in the game, probably out of desperation.
Not scoring is one thing. Not creating opportunities, or having others create them for you, that’s disconcerting.”
Simmons goes on to say that for the first time in Matthews’ career, many are wondering who exactly he is and what he can become. Can he be the game-breaking player many thought he would be when he was drafted first overall in 2016, or have the expectations been too high? Simmons says right now, Matthews’ play mirrors the team as a whole; “rather ordinary.”
It’s tough to lay the blame at the feet of any one player when a team is struggling, but Simmons does have a point in stating that you have to expect your highest paid guys to look like it when they hit the ice. He adds that while no one in the organization will admit to it at the moment, there is “every reason to worry about the top-heavy investment of the Maple Leafs.”
Do you think his assessment of Matthews' recent play is fair? Let us know in the comments.