Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine are having remarkable seasons
The season is nearing its halfway mark, and to everyone’s surprise, a pair of rookies is challenging some of the best goal scorers for the Maurice Richard Trophy (given to the player who amasses the most goals in the league over a single season.)
Auston Matthews is currently tied for fourth in goals scored (22) with Evgeni Malkin and Alexander Ovechkin. The number one overall pick in the draft is turning heads with his massive contributions to the Maple Leafs offense this season. It isn’t a huge surprise that Matthews is performing well, however not many would have expected him to challenge for the “Rocket Richard” trophy. The rookie sensation is propelling his team into the playoff discussion with his contributions on offense and defense. Matthews is helping Toronto win games, especially during 5 on 5 play. He also has maintained a positive plus-minus rating (+2) and tallied sixteen helpers. The Leafs currently sit in the second wild card spot.
Patrik Laine has also exceeded expectations set for him in Winnipeg. Laine is tied with teammate Mark Scheifele for seventh in the league in goals scored (21.) Like Matthews, Laine has collected sixteen assists on the season, however, Laine owns a better plus-minus rating (+8.) The number two overall pick in the draft is neck and neck with Matthews despite his absence for most of January.
Both rookies had made the most of first impressions in the NHL. Laine rocketed his first goal of the season in his first game and later registered his first hat-trick three games later against Matthews and the Leafs. Matthews got off to a much quicker start registering his first hat-trick in the very first game of his career. He finished that night with four goals in a loss to the Ottawa Senators.
Both young players are on pace for nearly fifty goals this season and will have a very realistic shot of taking the Richard trophy. However, both Laine and Matthews will have to continue their strong play to pass Sidney Crosby of the Penguins who currently leads the league in goals scored (28). He has a six-goal advantage over Matthews, and a 7 goal advantage over Laine.