Is this the season Toronto Maple Leafs’ Auston Matthews wins the Rocket Richard Trophy? And, if he does, what might that mean for the success of the Maple Leafs team?
NHL Fans Are Lucky There’s a Season Coming
The NHL training camps have started. Although there was constant talk about a season, given the number of unaddressed issues that presented themselves, I think NHL fans should be happy that there are as many as 56 games squished into a much more condensed and shortened season. That the NHL was able to plan such a schedule shouldn’t be taken for granted.
The Maple Leafs Auston Matthews Is Growing into an Elite Player
The Maple Leafs have a slew of star – even elite – players. But, by far the best forward is Auston Matthews, who is now entering his fifth season. He’s improving offensively and defensively every season. There’s even been speculation that – in addition to what looks like his yearly chase for the Rocket Richard Trophy (which is given to the player who leads the NHL in goal-scoring), he might even become a contender for the Selke Trophy.
The Frank J. Selke Trophy is awarded after each season to the NHL forward who shows over the course of the season the most skill in the defensive component of the game. The winner is voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association following the regular season. Even Maple Leafs’ President Brandan Shanahan has advocated that Matthews might be presented that award as well. The point is that Matthews is becoming an elite NHL player, and he’s likely to get much better.
Is It Better for the Maple Leafs if Auston Matthews Wins the Rocket Richard or Morgan Rielly wins the Norris Trophy?
It isn’t a surprise anywhere that Matthews is has Richard Trophy potential. In fact, in a recent Sportsnet video even debated whether it would be better for the team is Matthews won the Richard Trophy or defenseman Morgan Rielly won the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenseman. In the video below, hockey insiders Chris Johnston and Steve Dangle are interviewed by Shawn McKenzie and discuss that question.
What if Matthews Wins the Richard Trophy?
If you’re a Maple Leafs’ fan, you would obviously hope that Matthews might win the Rocket Richard Trophy. The significance of that trophy is that it isn’t voted upon, it simply comes from scoring goals. And, as NHL fans know well, scoring wins NHL games. Straight up, score the most goals and you win the trophy.
No one expects the Maple Leafs to lack goal scoring, and with Matthews leading the way and the “secondary” scoring of John Tavares, William Nylander, Mitch Marner, and who knows who else might emerge – Jimmy Vesey, Ilya Mikheyev, or Nick Robertson – the Maple Leafs are a potent scoring machine.
How Far Can the Maple Leafs Go?
If fans see Matthews at the top of his game this season, that likely means he’ll make a run for the Richard Trophy. If he does, which is likely, given the team’s improvement to the defense, the improvement of the bottom-six, and the addition of experienced and successful leadership in the dressing room, the team has a chance to go far.
No one can argue that the team is filled with special players. The next step is to move into the second round of the playoffs and make a run for the Stanley Cup. Anything less seems like a season unfulfilled.
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