Yesterday, Sportsnet continued their top 100 list of players for the upcoming season, and two more players joined the three Leafs named earlier in the Leafs.
Auston Matthews, #16
A transcendent Calder Trophy–winning season for Matthews gave way to somewhat of a mixed bag in his sophomore campaign. On any given night, he was still capable of his usual display of skills — with 34 goals in Year 2, his goals and assists per game actually spiked up.
John Tavares, #12
The bane of Islanders fans’ existence and the source of Maple Leafs fans’ summer elation now has the opportunity to set highlight reels ablaze with projected wingman Mitch Marner, the Leafs’ leading scorer and one of the premier passers in the game. Toss in the fact that opposing coaches will also need to game-plan against the Auston Matthews and Nazem Kadri lines, and Tavares — one of the most naturally driven athletes in the sport — may even be able to build on 2017–18, when he threw up a career-best 84 points.
The debate begins, but it’s hard to critique Tavares getting the leg up for the longevity and consistency factor, as he’s still clearly at the top of his game. Besides, the difference between 12 and 16 is marginal, and both are on the same team.
Plus, you can add William Nylander and Nazem Kadri to a team that’s got 5 top-100 players. Not bad!