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Auston Matthews
Auston Matthews2
Position Centre
Shoots Left
Height
Weight
6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
216 lb (98 kg)
NHL Team
F. Teams
Toronto Maple Leafs
ZSC Lions
Nationality Flag of the United States United States
Born September 17 1997 (1997-09-17) (age 22),
San Ramon, California, USA
NHL Draft 1st, 2016
Toronto Maple Leafs
Pro Career 2015 – present

Auston Matthews (born September 17, 1997) is an American professional ice hockey player for the Toronto Maple Leafs of the National Hockey League. Previously, Matthews played for the U.S. National U18 Team in the USHL. Widely considered the top prospect of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, Matthews was drafted first overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs. This was the first time the franchise had the first overall pick since 1985, when they selected Wendel Clark.

Born in San Ramon, California, Matthews and his family moved to Scottsdale, Arizona when Matthews was an infant. He learned to play hockey in Arizona, developing an interest after watching the local Phoenix Coyotes play. Internationally, Matthews has represented the United States in numerous tournaments including a U17 WHC gold medal, two IIHF World U18 Championships gold medals, and two IIHF World U20 Championship appearances.

On October 12, 2016, Matthews became the first player in the modern NHL history to score four goals in his first game.

Early life Edit

Matthews was born in the San Francisco Bay Area to Brian, from California, and Ema, originally from Hermosillo, Mexico.  Matthews began attending Phoenix Coyotes games when he was two years old, and his favorite players were Shane Doan and Daniel Brière. Initially, Matthews didn't have much interest in the sport, but was captivated by the Zamboni machine that cleaned the ice during intermissions. Matthews first expressed a desire to play hockey shortly after his fifth birthday, and began playing with the Arizona Bobcats minor hockey program.  When Matthews was younger, he played both hockey and baseball. According to his father, baseball was his best sport, with his incredible hand-eye coordination making him an excellent hitter. However, he hated the slow pace of the game, preferring the fast pace and constant action of hockey. When he first started playing hockey, his parents knew almost nothing of the sport.

Matthews lived with his mom and sister Alexandria while playing with the ZSC Lions in Switzerland, while his father remained in Arizona, though they talked over the phone daily. She typically cooked him breakfast and dinner, with lunch usually being a team affair occurring after a practice. Off the ice, Matthews is enrolled in some online courses with the University of Nebraska Omaha, and received homework help from his sister while in Switzerland. In late August, 2016, he moved to Toronto and began working out with teammates Mitchell Marner and Morgan Rielly.

Playing career Edit

Amateur Edit

Matthews was drafted 57th overall by the Everett Silvertips in the 2012 WHL Bantam Draft, but opted to play for the USNTDP Juniors (USHL). That season he played for the U.S. National U17 Team (USDP) where he gained national attention from NHL scouts, even being featured on the NHL website with emphasis put on his unique southwestern background. In his second season with the U.S. National U18 Team (USDP), Matthews finished first in league scoring with 116 points (55 goals, 61 assists), breaking the National Team Development Program record of 102, set by Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane in 2005–06 and besting Buffalo Sabres' Jack Eichel by 29 points. On May 21, 2015, Matthews won the USA Hockey Bob Johnson Award for excellence in international competition.

Matthews trained with the USA Hockey National Team Development Program team during the 2013–14 and 2014–15 seasons. Matthews was named the 2015 Most Valuable Player at the World U18 Championships in addition to being named to the IIHF All-Star Team, and named the IIHF Best Forward after finishing as the tournament's top scorer.

Professional Edit

ZSC Lions Matthews

Matthews with the ZSC Lions

Rather than continue in US amateur hockey, or play in Canadian junior leagues, Matthews chose to play professionally for his last season before he was eligible for the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, having missed the 2015 NHL Entry Draft cutoff date of birth by two days. On August 7, 2015, Matthews signed a one-year contract to play in the Swiss' National League A for the ZSC Lions Matthews was approached by Lions head coach Marc Crawford, who was awed by his skating and puck possession while scouting the U18 Championships. Crawford quickly called Matthews' agent, Pat Brisson, to discuss the proposal of signing the player to his team. Matthews and his family quickly bought in once the tournament had ended, and they spent the next few months applying for various paperwork. After missing the first four games of the 2015–16 regular season, he made his NLA debut on September 18, 2015, and scored his first goal that same day against Benjamin Conz of HC Fribourg-Gottéron on home ice at the Hallenstadion. He would spend most of the season on a line with Robert Nilsson, finding chemistry with the veteran forward.

On February 3, 2016, he tallied two assists in a 4–1 win over the Lausanne HC in the 2015–16 Swiss Cup final. Matthews finished the 2015–16 regular season as the second top scorer on the Lions and tenth in the NLA. His 1.28 points-per-game average was second in the league, behind only Pierre-Marc Bouchard. Moreover, he also won the NLA Rising Star Award, and was second to Bouchard in voting for Most Valuable Player. Matthews' stint in the NLA ended earlier than expected when the top seeded Lions got swept in the first round of the 2016 playoffs by the SC Bern, the eventual league champions.

Toronto Maple Leafs Edit

In late June, Matthews was selected first overall in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs, becoming the first American to be picked with the top selection since Patrick Kane in 2007. He had been widely expected to go first overall for over a year leading up to the event, consistently topping prospect charts and major scouting reports. Had he made the age cutoff for the 2015 draft, many NHL scouts believed he could have challenged Jack Eichel for the second overall selection. Media speculation suggested that Matthews and the team had engaged in a minor contract dispute over the issue of performance bonuses; Matthews was asking the team for a contract similar to that of Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel, which were both valued at $3.775 million annually (with all bonuses factored in). Although Maple Leafs general manager Lou Lamoriello has been very open over his disapproval of including bonuses in player contracts in the past, he was very clear in stating that performance bonuses were never an issue while discussing Auston's contract. It is widely expected that first overall selections, as well as any other highly-touted early draft picks, receive the maximum entry-level compensation under the NHL's Collective Bargaining Agreement. Lamoriello had previously been involved in a contract dispute while in New Jersey with 4th overall pick Adam Larsson over the issue of bonuses. Larsson came out of negotiations without any performance bonuses attached to his entry-level deal. On July 21, the two parties finalized a deal, with Matthews inking a three-year entry-level contract, which included the maximum allocation of performance bonuses. Lamoriello would go on to state that the contract was agreed upon within 10 minutes of sitting down with Matthews' agent Pat Brisson, and that the deal was done "the Toronto way." Brisson would later confirm that the two parties did not have any issues ironing out the deal. The contract was identical in value to those McDavid and Eichel had secured a year earlier. Two weeks later, Matthews was given the NLA Youngster of the Year award, which is reserved for the league's top rookie. It would be his fifth award from his stint in Switzerland.

Matthews made his Maple Leafs preseason debut on October 2, 2016 in a game against the Montreal Canadiens playing on a line alongside William Nylander and Zach Hyman. He had originally missed training camp and the first few exhibition games of the season due to participating in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.

On October 12, 2016, during the Maple Leafs season opener against the Ottawa Senators, Matthews made his regular season debut playing with pre-season linemates Hyman and Nylander. A few minutes into the first period, Matthews scored his first career goal on his first NHL shot, becoming the twelfth player selected first overall to score in their first game. About six minutes later, Matthews scored again on a play that involved maneuvering around all five Senators' players and scoring on the short side. Just one minute and twenty-five seconds into the second period, Matthews scored his third goal on as many shots, completing the hat trick. In doing so, he became one of only five players in the history of the NHL to score a hat trick in their debut, and the first number one overall pick to do so.With three seconds left in the second period, Matthews scored again on a pass from Nylander, thus becoming the first rookie to score four goals in his NHL debut. Previously, Joe Malone and Harry Hyland scored five goals each in their NHL debuts on December 19, 1917 (the first game in the history of the then newly formed NHL. As they both had played in the National Hockey Association, the predecessor of the NHL, the league does not consider them rookies). Despite the historic performance, the Maple Leafs lost the game 5–4 in overtime, with Matthews scoring all of Toronto's goals. For his effort, Matthews was applauded and congratulated by various past and current NHL stars and other celebrities, some of which include Teemu SelänneDoug GilmourKris LetangTyler SeguinRoberto Luongo, the Columbus Blue Jackets and actor Stephen Amell.  Daniel Brière, one of Matthews' idols growing up, also offered his congratulations. Matthews' jersey would go on sale following his debut, where it quickly became the highest selling sweater in the league. Throughout the rest of the month Matthews would continue to tally points, recording ten in nine contests, good enough for third in league scoring and second among rookies (behind Nylander in both categories, who had eleven points). He would be named the runner-up for the Rookie of the Month award, which was presented to Nylander for October. Two months later in the NHL Centennial Classic, Matthews scored the game-winning goal in overtime, securing a 5–4 victory for the Maple Leafs.

Matthews Celebration

Matthews after scoring the goal that clinched the Leafs a playoff spot.

On March 25th 2017, Matthews tied Wendel Clark's record for most goals by a Maple Leafs rookie with 34. He would then break the record 3 days later with his 35th goal against Florida Panthers and former Maple Leaf goaltender, James Reimer. On April 3rd, he would score his 39th on the year against Buffalo Sabres goaltender Robin Lehner, marking his 67th point of the season, breaking Peter Ihnačák's Maple Leaf rookie record of 66. On Saturday May 8th 2017, in a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Matthews scored an empty net goal, his 40th of the season, to give the Leafs a 5-3 lead that clinched them a playoff spot. Matthews scored four goals and one assist in the playoffs that season, although the Leafs lost to the Washington Capitals in the first round in 6 games.

International play Edit

Medal record
Competitor for Flag of the United States United States of America
Men's ice hockey
World U-17 Hockey Challenge
Gold 2014 Canada
IIHF World U18 Championship
Gold 2015 Switzerland
Gold 2014 Finland
IIHF World U20 Championship
Bronze 2016 Finland

Matthews helped lead Team USA to gold at the U18s in 2014. He did so again in 2015, leading the tournament in scoring and being named MVP, as well as earning the top forward slot on the Media All-Star team.

At the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championships held in Helsinki, Matthews and Matthew Tkachuk each scored eleven points to lead the American team in scoring. After losing in the semifinals, the American team beat Sweden to claim the bronze medal. His seven goals was one shy of Jeremy Roenick's Team America record of eight, which was set in 1989. In recognition of his play, he was named to the tournament All-Star Team. Later that year, Matthews played with the US national men's team for the 2016 IIHF World Championship tournament, where he led the team in scoring. A few months later, Matthews was announced as a member of Team North America for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. Matthews began the pre-tournament games playing left wing on the third line, playing alongside Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nathan MacKinnon. After impressing, he began the tournament on the top line with Connor McDavid. The two back-to-back first overall picks found chemistry but were unable to help North America to a medal finish. Matthews finished the tournament with three points in three games played.

Personal life Edit

Matthews comes from a family of athletes, with his father having played college baseball and with an uncle, Wes, who played in the NFL. The family moved to Scottsdale, Arizona when Auston was two months old. His father is the chief technology officer of a manufacturing company based in New Jersey, spending most of his time telecommuting from Arizona. He has two sisters, Alexandria, who is three years older, and Breyana, who is five years younger. Thanks to his mother's heritage, Matthews can speak some Spanish.

His favorite athlete growing up was Kobe Bryant, while his favorite sports movie is The Mighty Ducks Matthews, a big fan of players Jonathan Toews and Anže Kopitar due to their all around offensive and defensive game, has had his playing style compared to them.

Career statistics Edit

Regular season and playoffs Edit

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
2013–14 U.S. National Development Team USHL 20 10 10 20 4
2014-15 U.S. National Development Team USHL 24 20 28 48 10
2015-16 ZSC Lions NLA 36 24 22 46 6 4 0 3 3 2
2016-17 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 82 40 29 69 14 6 4 1 5 0
NHL totals 82 40 29 6914 6 4 1 5 0

International Edit

Year Team Event Result GP G A Pts PIM
2014 United States U17 Gold medal icon 6 4 4 8 8
2014 United States WJC18 Gold medal icon 7 5 2 7 4
2015 United States WJC18 Gold medal icon 7 8 7 15 0
2015 United States WJC 5th 5 1 2 3 4
2016 United States WJC Bronze medal icon 7 7 4 11 2
2016 United States WC 4th 10 6 3 9 2
2016 Team North America WCH 5th 3 2 1 3 0
Junior totals 32 25 19 44 18
Senior totals 13 8 4 12 2

Awards and honours Edit

Award Year
USHL
USHL Third All-Star Team 2014–15
NLA
Swiss Ice Hockey Cup gold medal with the ZSC Lions 2015–16
NLA Rising Star Award 2015–16
NLA Media All-Star Team 2015–16
NLA Media Most Improved Player 2015–16
NLA Youngster of the Year 2015–16
NHL
Rookie of the Week December, 2016
NHL All-Star 2017
International
World U-17 Hockey Challenge gold medal 2014
IIHF World U18 Championship gold medal 2014
IIHF World U18 Championship gold medal 2015
IIHF World U18 Championship Most Valuable Player 2015
IIHF World U18 Championship Media All-Star team 2015
IIHF World U18 Championship scoring leader 2015
Bob Johnson Award 2015
IIHF World Junior Championship All-Star Team 2016

Records Edit

NHL Edit

  • Most goals scored in an NHL debut in the modern era (four goals), surpassed Alex SmartReal CloutierFabian Brunnström and Derek Stepan (three goals).
  • Alongside Patrik Laine, Matthews forms the first pair of top-two picks from the same NHL Entry Draft to each record multiple points in their debut.

Toronto Maple Leafs Edit

  • Fastest Maple Leafs player to score 25 goals (52 games), surpassed Howie Meeker (58 games in 1946–47).
  • Maple Leaf rookie record for most goals in a season (40), passing Wendel Clark (34)
  • Maple Leaf rookie record for most points in a season (69), passing Peter Ihnačák (66)

External Links Edit

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Connor McDavid
NHL first overall draft pick
2016
Succeeded by
Incumbent
Preceded by
Mitchell Marner
Toronto Maple Leafs first round draft pick
2016
Succeeded by
Incumbent
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