January 03 2017 02:06PM
The NHL has announced that Auston Matthews has been named December's rookie of the month. After recording 12 points in 12 December contests, Matthews was hands down the leagues best freshman. Of the three times the Rookie of the month honours has been handed out this year, two of them have been Leafs, with Willie Nylander taking home the rookie of the month honours in October.
Over the last few months we've seen Matthews exceed rookie-season expectations and quickly evolved in to a two-way dominant centre. The thing about Matthews is, even when he wasn't scoring so well in November and when he wasn't getting the hype and dazzle like Mitch Marner and Patrik Laine, he was still being a very effective player, people just don't notice the little things.
Because of those little things that Matthews does so well, he could be overlooked at times. But after the offensive explosion Matthews had in December, there's no overlooking the talent of Auston Matthews.
Auston Matthews OT winner at the Centennial Classic. His second goal of the game. pic.twitter.com/YEA3Rj7ceM— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) January 1, 2017
Matthews' case for the Calder Trophy is only getting stronger. He leads all rookies in goals ( 20) and points (32) while becoming Toronto's most effective and important player. His defensive strengths continue to be shown and he's already got a superstar trait-- the ability to make those around him better.
20 goals on the season for Auston Matthews qualifies for A bonus and will earn the Leafs rookie an extra $212,500.— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) January 1, 2017
If Matthews keeps this up, he could be in store for one of the best rookie seasons, ever. The Arizona native is on pace for 46 goals which has only been done by six rookies in NHL history. Not to mention the fact he's on pace for 39 even strength goals.
Auston Matthews is the first #Leafs rookie to score 20 goals prior to his first 40 career games played since Charlie Conacher in 1929-30— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) January 1, 2017
Who would have expected that Auston Matthews, not Patrik Laine, would lead rookies in goal scoring halfway through the year?
Not many people, if anyone.
Praise from around the league
"He's got a skill set that allows him to do things that a lot of other people can't do." Said Matthews teammate Morgan Reilly." "But on top of that, he's got a good brain. He works hard. And he's playing with good teammates. It's all kind of unfolding for him in a good way. We have lots of faith it's going to roll the way it is."
But it's not just Matthews' teammates that have been providing words of praise.
"He's a pretty dynamic young player." said Anaheim Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle. "The thing I noticed about him is the strentgth he has around the puck- nobody seems to be able to pull the puck away from him. He can make moves inside ( and) outside and he's only 19 years old. And I'm going: That kid's got a bright future."