After turning heads at the World Cup as the youngest player in the tournament, Auston Matthews is already making an impact at Leafs camp. At the end of his first practice with the blue and white, Matthews fired a one-timer from Mitch Marner into the glass, shattering it. While it’s probably not the last pane that will fall victim to Matthews’ hard shot, it’s just nice for the team to finally have him in their own building with their own jersey.
While Mike Babcock has repeatedly said that Matthews will start on the third line this year for the team, when he hit the ice for the first time he was skating between James van Riemsdyk and Leo Komarov on the first group. The 19-year old centerman will likely be sheltered to start his career, but many believe it won’t last long, just as it hasn’t at both the World Championships and World Cup.
At both tournaments, Matthews opened as one of the final few forwards, but finished among the top two lines. Every coaching staff that has worked with him speaks about his learning curve, and how hard he works. We’ll see if the curve isn’t a bit steeper once the real NHL season begins, and teams bear down on the youngster.
- Montreal prospect Will Bitten has been dealt to the Hamilton Bulldogs, according to Ryan Yessie of HockeyProspect.com. Bitten was selected in the third round of the latest draft, but has flashed enough skill to have gone higher. The undersized center put up 65 points in 67 games last season on an awful Flint Firebirds team (20-42-6) and is expected to make another big development step this season. He’ll now be a little closer to home, playing for a familiar name to Canadiens fans – their former AHL affiliate was also the Hamilton Bulldogs, where players like Carey Price spent time seasoning before making the NHL.
- The Ottawa Senators have sent first round pick Logan Brown back to junior as expected today. Brown, an absolute monster on the ice standing 6’6″, 222 lbs already, is actually incredibly skilled for a player his size. He notched 53 assists last season for the Windsor Spitfires, and showed off his offensive flair more than once. The Senators will hope he can start using that size a bit more as he gets stronger and matures as a player, letting him become a preeminent power forward in the NHL within a few years. For now, he’ll return to junior for his third year, expected somewhere close to 100 points and lead the Spitfires back to another strong season.