There’s been a lot of talk and consternation among Toronto media types recently about Auston Matthews’ current goal drought. I was rather astonished the other day listening to one of the noon-hour hockey talk shows to hear someone who should know better being critical of Matthews. I can’t believe I’m quoting Donald Trump…but STOP IT.
Anyone who’s actually watched Matthews and William Nylander play over the first 17 games of the Leafs season can see they’re dangerous every time they’re on the ice, and often play in the other team’s end. Has he failed to convert a number of good chances recently, including a wide open net last night in the first period against Florida? Yes. But he’s far from the first goal scorer to go through a period of bad luck…seems to me Phil Kessel was quite streaky this way in his time in Toronto. He’s wearing a Stanley Cup ring in Pittsburgh if you hadn’t heard.
Let’s get some perspective here: He’s 19, and most kids his age are still playing junior. He has 12 points in 17 games, hardly a cause for concern. Don’t compare him to Patrik Laine, who has 12 goals, because Winnipeg is a much better team, and he’s playing with some solid veterans.
If there’s one thing I think Matthews could benefit from, it’s some video work on positioning in the offensive zone. I’ve seen more than one occasion where had he been in a different spot, we may not be talking about this at all. The Leafs are above .500 and have scored 18 goals in their last 3 home games. Mitch Marner is a difference maker. Freddy Andersen has found his stride. The defence is going to be maddening all season. Just chill and enjoy the Leafs.
I’m not happy to hear the Blue Jays are kicking tires on Sean Rodriguez, be it as a utility player. He’s “excitable” much like Jose Bautista, and if you wish to move on from that temperament, bringing Rodriguez in certainly would be counter-intuitive. With Reddick going to Houston, I imagine the Jays focus now falls on the likes of Dexter Fowler, and trade possibilities like Jay Bruce, CarGo (which I suggested previously here), Charlie Blackmon, and Adam Eaton (mentioned by Fox’s Jon Morosi this week). I believe you need power and production from one of your corner outfield spots to contend, and it would seem Atkins and Shapiro seem to favour Bruce based on the fact they almost traded for him last spring, and have reportedly again engaged the Mets in talks.
One final thought…the fact Edwin Encarnacion seems to be waiting to sign after the new CBA is reached, where teams may have more room to spend with a new luxury tax threshold, does not bode well for his return to Toronto. If the Blue Jays are truly working with an increased payroll number, as has been suggested, they may still be a player. But the Yankees and Red Sox may simply be holding back right now ready to blow him away with an above-market offer once the new CBA is in place.