Auston Matthews

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Auston Matthews
Auston Matthews 2017-12-09.jpg
Matthews with the Maple Leafs in 2017
Born (1997-09-17) September 17, 1997 (age 22)
San Ramon, California, U.S.
Height 6 ft 3 in (191 cm)
Weight 220 lb (100 kg; 15 st 10 lb)
Position Center
Shoots Left
NHL team
Former teams
Toronto Maple Leafs
ZSC Lions
National team  United States
NHL Draft 1st overall, 2016
Toronto Maple Leafs
Playing career 2015–present

Auston Taylour Matthews[1] (born September 17, 1997) is an American professional ice hockey center and an alternate captain for the Toronto Maple Leafs of the National Hockey League (NHL). Born in San Ramon, California, Matthews and his family moved to Scottsdale, Arizona, when he was an infant. Playing baseball and hockey growing up, Matthews developed a particular interest in hockey after watching the local Phoenix Coyotes play. A product of the USA Hockey National Team Development Program in the United States Hockey League (USHL), Matthews played for the ZSC Lions of the Swiss National League prior to being drafted into the NHL in 2016. Matthews was widely considered the top prospect of the draft, and was selected first overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Matthews became the first player in modern NHL history to score four goals in his NHL debut. He scored 40 goals in his first season in 2016–17, the second rookie since the 2004–05 lockout to reach the milestone, and the fourth teenager in league history to do so. His outstanding performance also won him the Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL's top rookie for the season.

Internationally, Matthews has represented the United States in numerous tournaments including a U17 WHC gold medal, two U18 WJC gold medals and two IIHF World U20 Championship appearances.

Early life[edit]

Matthews was born in San Ramon, California[2] to Brian, from California, and Ema, originally from Hermosillo, Mexico.[3] He and his family moved to Scottsdale, Arizona, when Auston was two months old,[4] and he began attending Phoenix Coyotes games at age two.[5] His favorite players to watch were Shane Doan and Daniel Brière.[6] Initially, Matthews did not have much interest in the sport but was captivated by the Zamboni machine that cleaned the ice during intermissions.[7] He first expressed a desire to play hockey shortly after his fifth birthday, and began playing with the Arizona Bobcats minor hockey program.[8] At age eight, Matthews was present in the stands witnessing a Phoenix Coyotes Game against the Washington Capitals where he witnessed Alexander Ovechkin's historic goal that would come to be referred to as "The Goal"; Matthews referred to it as "probably one of the best goals ever".[9] When Matthews was younger, he played both hockey and baseball. According to his father, baseball was his best sport; Auston's hand-eye coordination made 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.[10] His main coach during his youth was Boris Dorozhenko, who had previously founded the national ice hockey program of Mexico. During Dorozhenko's first few years in the U.S., he lived with Matthews and his parents.[11][12] Matthews played in the 2010 Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament with the Kharkov minor ice hockey team.[13]

Playing career[edit]

Junior[edit]

Matthews was drafted 57th overall by the Western Hockey League (WHL)'s Everett Silvertips in the 2012 WHL Bantam Draft but opted to play for the USA Hockey National Team Development Program, which participates in the United States Hockey League (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.[14] In his second season with the U.S. National U18 Team (USDP), Matthews finished first in league scoring with 116 points (55 goals and 61 assists), breaking the National Team Development Program record of 102 points set by the Chicago Blackhawks' 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.[15]

Matthews trained with the USA Hockey National Team Development Program team during the 2013–14 and 2014–15 seasons. He was named the most valuable player at the 2015 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.[16][17]

Switzerland[edit]

Matthews chose to play professionally for his last year before he was eligible for the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, signing a one-year contract with the ZSC Lions of the Swiss National League A.

Rather than continue in American amateur hockey or play major junior hockey in the Canadian Hockey League, 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.[18] On August 7, 2015, he signed a one-year contract to play in the Swiss National League A (NLA) for ZSC Lions.[19] Matthews was approached by Lions head coach Marc Crawford, who was awed by his skating and puck possession while scouting the 2015 World U18 Championships.[7] Crawford quickly called Matthews' agent, Pat Brisson, to discuss the proposal of signing the player to the team. Matthews and his family quickly agreed once the tournament had ended and spent the next few months applying for various paperwork.[7] 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 in the game against goaltender 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.[7]

On February 3, 2016, Matthews recorded two assists in a 4–1 win over the Lausanne HC in the 2015–16 Swiss Cup final. He finished the 2015–16 regular season as the second top-scorer on the Lions and tenth in the NLA.[20] His 1.28 points-per-game average was second in the league behind only longtime NHL player Pierre-Marc Bouchard.[7] He also won the NLA Rising Star Award and was second to Bouchard in voting for most valuable player.[21] Matthews' stint in the NLA ended earlier than expected when the top-seeded Lions were swept in the first round of the 2016 playoffs by SC Bern.[22]

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. Matthews had been widely expected to go first overall for several months leading up to the event, consistently topping prospect charts and major scouting reporters.[23] 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, inclusive of bonuses.[24] Although Maple Leafs general manager Lou Lamoriello had been very open over his disapproval of including bonuses in player contracts in the past, he was clear in stating that performance bonuses were never an issue while negotiating Matthews' contract. Lamoriello had previously been involved in a contract dispute while with the New Jersey Devils with fourth overall pick Adam Larsson over the issue of bonuses; there were no bonus clauses included in Larsson's entry-level contract. On July 21, the two parties finalized a deal, with Matthews signing a three-year, entry-level contract which included the maximum allocation of performance bonuses.[25] Lamoriello said that the contract was negotiated within ten minutes of sitting down with Matthews' agent, Pat Brisson, and that the deal was done "the Toronto way".[26][27] Brisson would later confirm that the two parties did not have any issues negotiating the contract. The contract was identical in value to those McDavid and Eichel had signed one year earlier.[27] Two weeks later, Matthews was given the NLA Youngster of the Year award, reserved for the league's top rookie.[28] It was his fifth award from his stint in Switzerland.

2016–17[edit]

Matthews made his NHL debut in the Maple Leafs' first game of the season on October 12, 2016, against the Ottawa Senators. He scored four goals in the game, all against Craig Anderson. This was the first time in modern NHL history a player scored four goals in his 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 NHL). Four others had scored three goals since then.[29] Matthews' jersey would go on sale following his debut, where it quickly became the highest-selling jersey in the NHL.[30] Two months later, in the NHL Centennial Classic against the Detroit Red Wings, Matthews scored the game-winning goal in overtime, securing a 5–4 victory for the Maple Leafs.[31] He was named NHL's Rookie of the Month for December after leading all rookies with 8 goals and 12 points in 12 games.[32] On January 10, 2017, Matthews was the only Leafs player selected to participate in the 2017 NHL All-Star Game.[33] On March 28, 2017, Matthews scored his 35th goal of the season, surpassing Wendel Clark's previous record for most goals in a season (34) by a Leafs' rookie.[34] April 3 saw Matthews score his 39th goal and 67th point, breaking the franchise record for most points in a season, as well as the record for most goals by an American-born rookie.[35] A few days later, he scored his 40th goal of the season, becoming the second rookie since the 2004–05 lockout to reach the milestone and the fourth teenager in NHL history to do so.[36] He finished the year with 40 goals, second-most in the NHL.[37] Matthews' play assisted the Maple Leafs in making the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time in a full season since 2004, where the team played the top-seeded Washington Capitals in the first round. After going pointless in the first two games of the series, Matthews scored in each of the last four games as the team was eliminated in six games by the Capitals. His four consecutive games with a goal marked the first time since 1986 where a teenager scored in four straight playoff games, when Wendel Clark did it, also with Toronto.[38] Matthews was also the only NHL rookie since the Winnipeg Jets' Teemu Selänne in 1992–93 to record at least one shot on goal in all 82 regular season games.[39] In recognition for his accomplishments throughout the year, Matthews was awarded the Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL's top rookie, with 164 of 167 first-place votes. He was the first Maple Leafs' rookie to receive the trophy in 50 years since Brit Selby in 1966.[40]

2017–18[edit]

Matthews set the unofficial NHL record for most consecutive games with a shot on goal to start a career. His 103-game streak ended in a 4–1 victory over the Calgary Flames on November 28, 2017.[41] On December 9, after colliding with a teammate during a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Matthews missed six games to recover from a concussion.[42] On January 10, 2018, Matthews was selected as the sole Maple Leaf to participate in the 2018 NHL All-Star Game.[43] On February 24, it was revealed that Matthews had suffered a shoulder injury and would be out for at least ten days.[44] However, he did not return to the Toronto lineup until March 22, 2018, where he scored a goal in the second period to help the Leafs win 5–2 over the Nashville Predators.[45] Despite missing 20 games, Matthews finished the regular season with 34 goals and averaged over one point per game. The Maple Leafs qualified for the Stanley Cup playoffs for the second consecutive season but were eliminated in the first round by the Boston Bruins.[46] He was not particularly productive in his second playoff run, finishing with one goal and one assist in seven games.[47]

2018–19[edit]

The Maple Leafs opened their 2018–19 season on October 3, 2018, against the Montreal Canadiens. In that game, Matthews scored the team's first goal along with the overtime-winning goal in a 3–2 win.[48] After recording five goals and three assists through the first three games of the season, Matthews was named the NHL's First Star of the Week on October 9.[49] His points streak continued, recording four goals over the next two games for a total of 12 points in 5 games. In so doing, he became the youngest player in NHL history to record five multi-point games to open the season, breaking a record set by Wayne Gretzky in 1983.[50] He continued his goal streak the next game against the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Washington Capitals. In scoring his tenth goal of the season, Matthews became only the fifth player in the modern era to record ten goals in his team's first six games of the season.[51] On October 27, after being hit by Winnipeg Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba in a 3–2 Maple Leafs win, Matthews sustained a left shoulder injury and was set to be sidelined for at least four weeks.[52] After missing 14 games, Matthews returned to the lineup on November 28 against the San Jose Sharks; he recorded two goals and one assist in Toronto's 5–3 win.[53] On December 27, Matthews was voted as captain of the Atlantic Division in the 2019 National Hockey League All-Star Game. While it was his first year as a captain, it was Matthews' third All-Star selection.[54]

On February 5, 2019, Matthews signed a new five-year, $58.17 million contract with Toronto worth an average annual value of $11.634 million, effective from the 2019–20 season through to the 2023–24 season.[55] He later scored his 100th and 101st NHL goal on February 14, becoming the third-fastest Maple Leaf who began their career in Toronto to reach the milestone and the first since 1933.[56] Matthews reached the 30-goal mark for the third consecutive season on February 25, 2019, after scoring in a 5–3 win over the Buffalo Sabres. In so doing, he became the first Maple Leaf to score at least 30 goals in each of his first three seasons.[57]

Matthews finished the 2018–19 regular season with a career-high 73 points in 63 games to finish third in team scoring behind Mitch Marner (94) and John Tavares (88), both of whom also finished with career-highs in points. In the 2019 playoffs, Matthews set a playoff career-high with five goals and six points in seven games.[2] However, the Maple Leafs were eliminated by the Boston Bruins in seven games for the second-straight season.[58]

2019–20[edit]

At the start of the 2019–20 season, Matthews was named an alternate captain for the Maple Leafs.[59] He scored two goals in the season opener against the Ottawa Senators on October 3, becoming the fourth player in NHL history to score in each of their first four-season openers.[60][61] As of that game, Matthews ranked third in the NHL with 116 goals in 215 games since making his debut in 2016.[61] On October 7, Matthews was named the third NHL Star of the Week.[61]

International play[edit]

Matthews USA.png
Matthews with the United States men's hockey team during the 2016 IIHF World Championships
Medal record
Representing  United States
Men's ice hockey
World U-17 Hockey Challenge
Gold medal – first place 2014 Canada
IIHF World U18 Championship
Gold medal – first place 2015 Switzerland
Gold medal – first place 2014 Finland
IIHF World U20 Championship
Bronze medal – third place 2016 Finland

Matthews helped lead the United States men's national under-18 ice hockey team to gold at the 2014 IIHF World U18 Championship. He did so again in the 2015 Championship, leading the tournament in scoring and being named MVP, as well as earning the top forward slot on the Media All-Star Team.[17] He was also named to the roster for the 2015 Deutschland Cup but was forced to pull out of the tournament due to a back injury.[62]

At the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championships held in Helsinki, Matthews and Matthew Tkachuk each recorded 11 points to lead the United States men's national junior ice hockey team in scoring. After losing in the semifinals, the Americans defeated Sweden to win the bronze medal. His seven goals in the tournament were one short of Jeremy Roenick's American record of eight, which was set in 1989.[63] In recognition of his play, Matthews was named to the tournament All-Star Team. Later that year, Matthews played with the United States national men's senior team at the 2016 IIHF World Championship, during which he led the Americans in scoring.

Later in 2016, Matthews was announced as a member of Team North America for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.[64] He 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 Jack Eichel and Connor McDavid.[65] The three found chemistry but were unable to help North America to a medal finish. Matthews finished the tournament with three points in three games played. Following the Toronto Maple Leafs' first-round elimination in the 2017 playoffs, he was advised by the team to forego participating in the 2017 IIHF World Championship and to instead rest.[66][67]

Personal life[edit]

Matthews comes from a family of athletes, with his father having played college baseball and with an uncle, Wes Matthews, who briefly played in the National Football League for the Miami Dolphins.[68] His father is the chief technology officer of a manufacturing company based in New Jersey, spending most of his time telecommuting from Arizona.[69] He has two sisters, Alexandria, who is three years older, and Breyana, who is five years younger.[7][70] Thanks to his mother's heritage, Matthews can speak some Spanish.[71]

Matthews lived with his mother and sister Alexandria while playing with the ZSC Lions in Switzerland, while his father remained in Arizona, though they talked over the phone daily.[72] She typically cooked him breakfast and dinner, with lunch usually being a team affair occurring after a practice.[72] Off the ice, Matthews was enrolled in several online courses with the University of Nebraska Omaha and received homework help from his sister while in Switzerland.[73][74] In late August 2016, he moved to Toronto and began working out with teammates Mitch Marner and Morgan Rielly.[75]

Matthews' favorite athlete growing up was Kobe Bryant, while his favorite sports movie is The Mighty Ducks.[76] 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.[77]

In recognition of Matthews' four-goal NHL debut, rap artist SVDVM released a song titled "Auston Matthews".[78]

At the 2019 NHL Awards, Matthews was named the cover athlete for EA Sports' ice hockey video game NHL 20.[79]

In September 2019, Matthews was charged with disorderly conduct concerning an incident in Scottsdale, AZ in May 2019.[80][81] Matthews stated it was "an error in judgment" not to advise the Maple Leafs team management of the incident,[82][83] and there was speculation this contributed to the decision to not give Matthews the captaincy of the Maple Leafs.[84] The charges were dismissed on November 13, 2019 after a settlement was reached between Matthews and the complainant.[85]

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
2017–18 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 62 34 29 63 12 7 1 1 2 0
2018–19 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 68 37 36 73 12 7 5 1 6 2
NHL totals 212 111 94 205 38 20 10 3 13 2

International[edit]

Year Team Event Result GP G A Pts PIM
2014 United States U17 1st, gold medalist(s) 6 4 4 8 8
2014 United States WJC18 1st, gold medalist(s) 7 5 2 7 4
2015 United States WJC18 1st, gold medalist(s) 7 8 7 15 0
2015 United States WJC 5th 5 1 2 3 4
2016 United States WJC 3rd, bronze medalist(s) 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 honors[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 [21]
NLA Media All-Star Team 2015–16
NLA Media Most Improved Player 2015–16
NLA Youngster of the Year 2015–16 [28]
NHL
Rookie of the Month December 2016 [86]
NHL All-Star 2017, 2018, 2019 [33][87]
Calder Memorial Trophy 2017 [40]
NHL All-Rookie Team 2017 [88]
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 [17]
IIHF World U18 Championship Media All-Star team 2015 [17]
IIHF World U18 Championship scoring leader 2015
Bob Johnson Award 2015 [15]
IIHF World Junior Championship All-Star Team 2016 [89]

Records[edit]

NHL[edit]

Toronto Maple Leafs[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Connor McDavid
NHL first overall draft pick
2016
Succeeded by
Nico Hischier
Preceded by
Mitch Marner
Toronto Maple Leafs first round draft pick
2016
Succeeded by
Timothy Liljegren
Preceded by
Artemi Panarin
Winner of the Calder Trophy
2017
Succeeded by
Mathew Barzal