It’s that time of the year to begin studying the top prospects for the upcoming draft, and I’m going to start off with the predicted number one pick, Auston Mathews.
I like this guy. I’m not as impressed as I was with McDavid and Eichel, but he is very good. The aspect that stood out to me was his high hockey IQ. He seems to know what to do and where to be at all times, understanding when he can get in on the forecheck and when he needs to stay out as the high forward. He doesn’t cheat defensively and chase the puck-carrier.
On the offensive side, Matthews is decisive with the puck and plays the situation correctly. He doesn’t attempt high-risk plays or try to force anything. I like that deking through several players isn’t something he does.
Along with making smart decisions, he’s also very strong on the puck. He works hard to gain possession and protects it, using his 6’2″ frame to shield and fend off the opposition. His pursuit of the puck and hockey sense contributes to his high scoring ability, getting to rebounds and finding the high scoring areas. It also helps having the kind of precision and speed on his shots.
I’ve stated Matthews doesn’t cheat defensively. Another thing I like about his defense is his hustle down the ice. He is effective with his stick-checking and forces turnovers in all three zones.
He does have the potential to be a great NHLer and does deserve to go high in the draft.