The Toronto Maple Leafs struck gold when they won the lottery in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. Auston Matthews proved to be a veritable force for the Canadian team, scoring 40 goals and 69 points in his inaugural NHL season.
He scores his goals in so many ways, which makes it quite difficult to contain him. His game can be compared to that of Sidney Crosby’s, in the sense that his vision and understanding of the game allows him to score goals with a precise shot, a dangle, or with some dirty work around the crease. There’s also no questioning the impact he has on his line mates.
Veteran Eric Fehr, who has played with two of the best players in the NHL for over a decade had this to say in interview with The Toronto Sun - “I have played with Sid, I have played with Ovie, and (Matthews) is right up there. The way (he) can just control the play … you think he is trapped, but he finds a way out every time.”
He continued to add that “he is thinking a couple of steps ahead, it looks like he is not going fast, but he is blowing by guys. His control of the puck is crazy. He is next level, for sure.”
These are some pretty lofty comparisons. Ovechkin has scored over 40 goals 8 times in his NHL career; many of those times he eclipsed 50 goals, not to mention the 65 goals he scored in 2007-2008. Sidney Crosby has surpassed the 100-point mark 5 times in his career, and is widely recognized as the best player in hockey since his arrival on the scene in 2005.
If Matthews plays at their level throughout his NHL career, watch out.