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Auston Matthews Had One of the Greatest Rookie Seasons Ever

The 19-year-old Maple Leafs star has the Calder Trophy locked up, and exceeded even the most optimistic expectations.
Photo by Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Another day, another goal, another record.

Game after game, Maple Leafs rookie Auston Matthews mauled through franchise benchmarks and chased down legends on his way to finishing up one of the most productive first seasons the NHL has seen, and the greatest in the 100-year history of the Maple Leafs.

With an empty-netter on Saturday to officially lift the upstart Maple Leafs into the playoffs in his first year, Matthews finished the regular season as the league's highest-scoring rookie in both goals (40) and points (69), and tied for second overall in NHL goal scoring with Nikita Kucherov, sitting just four back of Rocket Richard winner Sidney Crosby. With that, Matthews also became just the fourth rookie under the age of 20 to score 40 goals in a season (and only the 15th ever), and the first rookie since Teemu Selanne's record-setting 1992-93 season to record a shot on goal in each one of his team's games.


The conclusion to Matthews' historic first regular season comes just days after the 19-year-old crushed a few other longstanding league and franchise benchmarks. Last Monday, Matthews' 39th tally moved him past Neal Broten for most goals by a United States-born rookie, a mark set when Broten was a 22-year-old and put up 38 tallies during the 1981-82 season. It was also the fifth straight game in which Matthews lit the lamp, becoming the first Leafs rookie to do so in five consecutive games since 1942-43. That goal gave Matthews 67 points on the year, which set a Maple Leafs rookie record for points in a season, and came a week after he moved past Leafs legend Wendel Clark for the single-season rookie goal-scoring record.

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While there remains little doubt now where Matthews' dream-like freshman season ranks among those who have worn the Maple Leafs crest over the past century, how does his rookie campaign rank productivity-wise among the NHL's all-time greats? Pretty damn good, as well. First, using era adjusted goals, assists, points, and goals created, here's where the Maple Leafs' super rookie compares offensively to the last ten No. 1 overall picks in their first seasons:

Matthews has the highest adjusted goals, adjusted goals created, and offensive point shares of any first overall selection since 2007, and finished just two adjusted points shy of reigning MVP Patrick Kane's mark of 78 a decade ago. Though Art Ross champ Connor McDavid played only 45 games due to injuries in his rookie season, full-season projections still give Matthews the edge in goals, created goals, and point shares.


Matthews not only sits among the best No.1 picks in recent memory, his incredible first year ranks right up there with some of the greatest offensive rookie seasons in NHL history.

Five of the most productive rookie seasons ever were had by a group of legends who would all be considered top ten all-time players by many, if not most. Matthews' adjusted goals total ranks ahead of Crosby, Gretzky and Lemieux, while his point shares and goals created are also both higher than Super Mario's totals.

In his first season, Matthews scored 40 goals, led the Maple Leafs in scoring, and exceeded all expectations while powering the team to its first (full-season) playoff berth in over a decade. Matthews is a lock for the Calder Trophy, awarded to the league's top rookie, and should be chasing even bigger hardware in the years to come. He's already a legit superstar and won't turn 20 until September.

So far, so good for Matthews. Actually, when you really look at it—so far, so great.