Photo credit:Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Auston Matthews is the first Maple Leaf selected to the 2024 All-Star Game
By Jon Steitzer1 month ago
It seems like 2024 is picking up where 2023 left off for Auston Matthews. The Maple Leafs leading goal scorer signed a contract that would see him as the highest paid player in hockey and to further justify that payment, Matthews is now a five time All-Star.
Matthews’ season started with a pair of hat tricks and has built out from there. He’s now sitting at 30 goals for the 8th consecutive time to start his career, he has a legitimate shot at challenging for the elusive 50 goals in 50 games mark, and presently has a pace to hit 69 goals, leaving him a chance to push the 70 goal barrier as well if his present hot streak is extended much further.
Matthews received a hefty amount of criticism last season as numbers dropped off from his Hart Trophy campaign in 2021-22. In comparison to last season, Matthews is now sitting just 10 goals back of where he was after 75 games played last season and Matthews is back on pace for being over 100 points as well.
This All-Star Game appearance has the opportunity to further build on Matthews’ legacy in Toronto. He’ll take to his home ice, committed to the team for another four seasons after this one as one of the top All-Stars and a player who is on pace to hold the record for all-time goals scored as a Maple Leaf at some point in the next couple of seasons as well. Matthews has been a special player from day one for Toronto and the opportunity to celebrate him on this stage should make for a memorable weekend.
While Matthews is the first Leaf to get selected it seems very likely he won’t be the last. The NHL has begun its voting process for the remaining eight player spots and four goaltender spots and given that draft format of the game no longer requires a certain number of players from each division, there is the opportunity to vote in Nylander, Marner, Rielly, Tavares, and even Ryan Reaves if Leafs fans so desire. William Nylander not making it into the All-Star Game this year would be a huge miss by the league but one I wouldn’t expect to happen.
The NHL has also had a tendency to lean into the local market for replacement players as injuries to All-Stars come up in the next month and that could be how additional Leafs find their way into the lineup.
The voting is now open at NHL.com and the All-Star Weekend begins with the draft February 1st and concludes with the games on February 3rd.
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