The Toronto Maple Leafs have outplayed all of the preseason expectations of the club, and much of that has to do with the excellent performance of Auston Matthews in his rookie season. The first-overall pick has become an impact player right away with 55 points in 64 games, despite spending the whole season skating alongside fellow youngster Zach Hyman. When the team was winning, everything seemed fine with that arrangement but now that they’ve lost five straight people are starting to call for some more experienced wingers to be put with Matthews.
Craig Button of TSN thinks (video link) that’s “laughable” though, as he details the amount of room Hyman creates with his forechecking ability and unstoppable energy level. Hyman has just 25 points all season, and is one of the most divisive players in Toronto at the moment. While he obviously works as hard as any player in the league, some question his offensive upside and whether he can be an option long-term on Toronto’s top line. For now, the team looks like they’ve moved William Nylander away from that group and back to the wing of Nazem Kadri to try and spark some offense (via Kristen Shilton of TSN).
- The Columbus Blue Jackets have recalled T.J. Tynan from the AHL on emergency conditions after Josh Anderson was given a 7-10 day timeline for his knee injury. Tynan was up just a few days ago but still has yet to make his NHL debut with the Blue Jackets. The undersized winger is an excellent passer and has 30 points in 55 AHL games this season. The Blue Jackets have a rematch with the New Jersey Devils tomorrow night, after defeating them 3-0 on Sunday evening.
- Jack Eichel has been the oft-forgotten member of the exceptional 20 and under club this season because of the injury that held him out of 21 games to start the season. The young Sabres forward is here to remind you of his talent though, with 42 points in 45 games and a shot at passing his full-season mark of 56 last year. Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News writes that greatness isn’t far off for Eichel when it comes to the NHL, and that he expects him to play a big role at the World Championships this spring if the Sabres do in fact miss the playoffs. If he’s healthy next year, Eichel could easily push to be crowned among the best young players in the game. He’s just scratching the surface of his offensive potential.