Matthews scored his second goal of the preseason in Saturday's 3-2 victory over the Sabres. He is skating with Patrick Marleau and Tyler Ennis, and the trio has looked sharp together. Ennis is skating in place of William Nylander, who remains a hold-out due to a contract dispute. Regardless, Matthews has a real opportunity to snipe 50 goals this season, that is if he remains healthy.
Matthews will make his preseason debut Wednesday in Ottawa versus the Senators, David Alter of The Canadian Press reports. Matthews posted 132 points (74 goals, 58 assists) over his first two seasons in the NHL, spanning 144 contests. The Leafs acquired all-world pivot John Tavares in free agency, which should take some pressure off the team's top-line center in Matthews. Health permitting, it's conceivable that both players will wind up with 40-plus goals in 2018-19.
Matthews' camp has initiated contract talks with the Maple Leafs regarding an extension, though the prized pivot said "there is no rush," as his current deal does not expire until next summer, Mike Zeisberger of NHL.com reports. Matthews has one year remaining on his entry-level contract. The phenom played a role in the Buds courting all-world center John Tavares -- who signed a seven-year, $11 million deal -- on the first day of the free-agency signing period, and there's a chance that the club wants to see how the two centers coexist before settling on new terms for Matthews. Selected first overall by the Leafs in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, Matthews has recorded 74 goals, 58 assists and a plus-27 rating through his first 144 games at hockey's highest level. While Tavares is generally projected to be the higher fantasy draft pick, Matthews is not far behind.
Matthews will not attend the World Championship in Denmark next month, Kristen Shilton of TSN.ca reports. This is bad news for Team USA, but Matthews experienced upper-body and shoulder injuries this season, and he probably could use a mental break after the Maple Leafs lost to the Bruins through seven games of a grueling first-round playoff series. In his second NHL season, the puck prodigy notched 34 goals, 29 assists to complement a shiny plus-25 rating and 13 power-play points during the regular season, though Matthews looked a step slower in the conference quarterfinals and wound up with only two points and a minus-4 rating.
Matthews continued to struggle Thursday in a 3-1, Game 4 loss to Boston. Matthews had three shots in 20:52, but he couldn't capitalize on the absence of Patrice Bergeron, who had been blanketing the big sophomore center this series. The first player off the board in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft has just a single goal in four games this postseason.
Rank Among Leaders
Last 7 Games
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