As the Leafs waded around at the bottom of the standings for much of this past season, we always knew they’d have a real shot at landing Auston Matthews – the projected first overall pick in the 2016 draft since about two years ago. But instead of getting too excited, everyone seemed to tread lightly, and most of us resigned ourselves to Toronto losing the lottery three times in a row and picking fourth overall. Just the way it’s always gone for Leafs Nation.
Now that all seems like 100 years ago, because, from the Zurich Lions of the Swiss Hockey League, the Toronto Maple Leafs have selected Auston Matthews. He’s a franchise center, the new cornerstone of the organization, and will be in blue and white for a very long time.
Welcome to your Auston Matthews Years.
Now, we go to the scouting reports. First up, from Future Considerations’ draft guide:
A complete package at center, Matthews excels in all areas of the ice and makes his teammates better…not only is this kid a gifted offensive player, he’s a reliable force defensively…A magician with the puck at times, Matthews shows his creative stickhandling and ability to fool defenders with impressive dekes. He looks like a man among boys as he dangles the puck on a string in tight and right around opposing players…possesses a crackling wristshot that releases with incredible power.
Crackling shot? No joke.
And here’s what HockeyProspect.com said of Matthews earlier this month:
“He can still remain effective when slowing down the game, relying on his playmaking ability. He’s committed to playing a sound defensive game and is a very complete and versatile player…it’s difficult to find flaws in his skillset. Sure-fire star two-way centers rarely come around…You seldom find prospects that project to the next level as safely as this kid does.
There really isn’t much else to say that we haven’t already. The Leafs have already won the draft. Sit back and enjoy the next 210 picks and whatever other craziness comes along with this weekend.