Sure, Auston Matthews looks like if Mr. Potatohead hadn’t slept in a week, but don’t let that fool you: he’s the most dangerous player in the NHL right now.
Sometimes we throw around the words “generational talent,” but lately it’s been rightfully applied to just four players: Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, Connor McDavid, and now Matthews.
With 40 goals and 29 assists in his rookie season, Matthews has amassed a nice point total. The keys to his production has been volume — lots of shots — and speed — to get where those shots are most dangerous.
With 18.4 shot-attempts per 60 minutes, Matthews is in around the 95th percentile of individual offense, not far behind Alex Ovechkin, who had 19.8 this season but used to be good for more than 23. Matthews is most similar to Montreal’s Max Pacioretty in his shot volume, but Matthews does something Patches can’t: get danger close.
Matthews’ individual scoring chance rate is almost off the charts. In the last five years, just one player has managed a higher rate of scoring chances during 5-on-5: Minnesota’s Jason Zucker. Almost 30 percent of Matthews’ offense comes from the home-plate-shaped area that comprises the scoring chance zone, putting him in the top-10 percentile for driving quality.
Where it gets fun is how Matthews does it. He goes for the jugular, and he goes for it quick. Look how tenacious he is low, and fast he gets to between the faceoff dots or lower.
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) December 4, 2016
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) December 29, 2016
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) January 7, 2017
As a result, the Leafs offense when Matthews is on the ice is super concentrated in the danger zone directly in front of the opponent’s net. From Corsica:
As the Caps make their plan for the Leafs series, Auston Matthews will be the first item on the agenda. He’s a dominant offensive force, which makes him as daunting as as he is entertaining. He’s the reason why, for the first time in a long time, the Maple Leafs are fun to watch for reasons other than schadenfreude.
Headline photo: Maple Leafs
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