Tuesday, April 11, 2017

{allcanada} Auston Matthews favorite in Calder Trophy race


Center Auston Matthews can lay claim to the finest rookie season in the 100-year history of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

He is the also the favorite to win the Calder Trophy as the best rookie in the NHL, according to a panel of 14 writers for

Matthews, 19, received 68 points, including 12 first-place votes. Winnipeg Jets right wing Patrik Laine was second with 53 points (one first-place vote). Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski was third with 36 points (one first-place vote). Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Matt Murray and Maple Leafs forward Mitchell Marner finished fourth and fifth, respectively.

Brit Selby in 1966 was the last Maple Leafs player to win the Calder Trophy.

Matthews, chosen No. 1 in the 2016 NHL Draft, not only led all rookies, but the Maple Leafs as well, in goals (40), points (69) and shots on goal (279). He joined a team that was 30th in the League with 69 points in 2015-16 and played a vital role in helping it qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs with 95 points this season.

The Maple Leafs, who earned the second wild card into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference, will play the Washington Capitals in the Eastern Conference First Round beginning Thursday (7 p.m. ET; USA, CBC, TVA Sports).

"Obviously he's a good player," Toronto coach Mike Babcock said of Matthews. "He's a special talent, but more importantly than that, he's a special person. That's going to allow him to be a real leader because he does it right every day, and in the end, that'll allow him to drive a franchise and allow it to win. So I think he's a real good player and a real good man and has a chance to be special."

Matthews is the second Maple Leafs player to reach 40 goals in the past 22 seasons. Former Toronto captain Mats Sundin scored 41 goals in 1996-97 and 2001-02.

His five-game goal streak (March 25-April 3) is tied for second with Gaye Stewart (Nov. 12-21, 1942) behind Alf Skinner's six (Jan. 28-Feb. 13, 1918) for the Maple Leafs rookie record, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. His eight game-winning goals tied Howie Meeker for another Maple Leafs rookie record set in 1946-47.

"He's an amazing goal-scorer," said Maple Leafs rookie forward William Nylander. "You just watch him every night and he just does things you don't expect anyone else to do."

Said Matthews: "Winning the Calder Trophy would be really meaningful and it would be a huge honor but this team has bigger goals in mind."

Voting totals (points awarded on a 5-4-3-2-1 basis): Auston Matthews, Maple Leafs, 68 points; Patrik Laine, Jets, 53 points; Zach Werenski, Blue Jackets, 36 points; Matt Murray, Penguins, 21; Mitchell Marner, Maple Leafs, 14 points; Matthew Tkachuk, Flames, 10 points; William Nylander, Maple Leafs, 7 points; Brady Skjei, New York Rangers, 1 point.

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