Auston Matthews’ Case as the NHL’s Best Goal Scorer

Hockey article at Knup Sports

After getting drafted #1 overall in 2016 and having a four-goal debut, we knew Auston Matthews was a goal scorer. But is he good enough to be the best?

After getting drafted #1 overall in 2016 and having a four-goal debut, we knew Auston Matthews was a goal scorer and he has continued to do so and live up to the hype. The Arizona native has 244 career goals in 390 total games, giving him 0.62 goals per game, an average of roughly 40 per season. That means he scores nearly every other game over a full 82-game campaign! 

At 244 career goals, Matthews is also only 197 goals away from being the top goal scorer in Maple Leafs history. Mats Sundin is currently sitting at the top with 420 goals in a Leafs uniform. If Matthews continues at this pace and stays healthy, he could break that record in the next 4-5 seasons. 

The 50-Goal Factor

Only in his sixth season, Auston Matthews has yet to score more than 50 goals in a season, but to be fair, the last two seasons have been shortened seasons and he has only played a full 82-game season once in his career due to injuries. If those previous two seasons were full 82 games, he was well over pace for 50 goals.

This season, Matthews is making a great case as one of the best goal scorers of the modern era. He is on pace for over 60 goals even with missing games to injury and now two due to suspension. Only two other players have scored over 60 goals in the past 20 years, Alexander Ovechkin (65 in 2007-08) and Steven Stamkos (60 in 2011-12). That is some solid company. 

Elite Numbers

Auston Matthews is considered the best scorer in 5-on-5 situations with 184 goals since he joined the league in 2016-17. The guy in second place? Connor McDavid with 163 goals 5-on-5. Again, great company to be named with but a 21-goal difference from one of the league’s best, if not the best, players is pretty crazy to think about. In all situations, Matthews leads the NHL in goals since he entered the league with Ovechkin only trailing by three goals. 

On top of all of that, his shooting percentage is incredible. Since the 2016-17 season, Matthews has the fourth-most shots in the NHL with 1,482 which is 276 behind the leader, Alex Ovechkin who has 1,758 shots on goal. Auston Matthews has a shooting% of 16.5% which is three percent higher than Ovechkin. Of players with more than 900 shots on goals in that span, Matthews is ranked fifth in SH% with Leon Draistail at #1 with 18.4%. That all with playing Matthews fewer minutes per game than those ahead of him. Imagine what he could do with more ice time!

With the company of Connor McDavid in the career goals ranking, you could argue that we are witnessing a comparison to Ovechkin and Crosby when they first entered the league. Matthews has 390 games played with 244 goals, 184 assists, and 468 points while McDavid has played 420 games with 211 goals, 398 assists, and 609 points. With 30 more games played, McDavid has 141 more points than Matthews. In comparison to Ovechkin and Crosby’s first 6 seasons in the NHL, Ovechkin played 475 games with 301 goals, 313 assists, and 614 points while Crosby played 412 games 215 goals, 357 assists, and 572 points. Like Crosby, McDavid averages more total points per game but Matthews, like Ovechkin, averages more goals per game. 

What’s Next for Auston Matthews?

If Matthews can continue his season healthy and suspension free, he’ll end the season with 77 games and potentially more than 60 goals, which would break Toronto’s franchise record of most goals in a season which is currently held by Rick Vaive who had 54 in the 1981-82 season. With only 197 more to break the all-time Leafs scorer record and potentially breaking franchise’s season record, it is safe to say Auston Matthews is the best scorer the Leafs have ever seen.

Looking at the comparisons to Ovechkin’s numbers and his historic Leafs season, I think it is safe to say that Matthews is not only the best goal scorer in Leafs history but also the best goal scorer of his generation. Keep an eye on the rest of his career because it doesn’t look like Matthews will be slowing down!

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