Auston Matthews

Darren Walker

A complete package at center, Matthews excels in all areas of the ice and makes his teammates better. He’s the kind of player who, in the same shift, can generate a creative scoring opportunity with exceptional vision and passing plays before quickly transitioning to shut down the opposition’s chance on the backcheck. A strong, smooth, mobile skater with quick feet and superb agility, Matthews can increase his speed to impressive levels as he moves up ice with the puck on his stick. His speed is deceptive at times because defenders get caught up in thinking that this hulking center can’t move as fast as he can. He has agility to dance around his man and to protect the puck with his size, strength and explosiveness in all directions. His skill on the power play is shown time and time again, but it is his play down a man that makes him so solid overall; not only is this kid a gifted offensive player, he is a reliable force defensively. Matthews uses his mobility to quickly get to the right areas of the defensive zone to cut the time and space of the puck carrier. He does exactly what a center should be doing—being one of the first ones back and helping clear the zone before joining the rush. He works his tail off all over the ice and will go down low to scoop up the puck in one clean movement before turning to break out of the zone. He is consistently defensively responsible; someone his coach can count on. A magician with the puck at times, Matthews shows his creative stickhandling and ability to fool defenders with impressive dekes. He looks like a man among boys as he dangles the puck on a string in tight and right around opposing players. He dishes crisp passes—exploiting open lanes—and can get creative in putting the puck through the smallest of lanes to hit his man with a timely pass. He displays true patience and picks his spots, but not forcing things. Matthews possesses a crackling wrist shot that releases with incredible power. He’s involved in all facets of the game and will be an impact player in the NHL.   (May 2016)