Auston Matthews Poised For MVP Season

The Toronto Maple Leafs have given Auston Matthews the keys and it's going to be up to 'Papi' to put the car in drive. This season is setting up nicely for Matthews, who will begin the year playing alongside Mitch Marner, which is something that's never been the case for the big centreman. Throw in Joe Thornton and his unreal vision and these three could make up one of the best lines in hockey.

Matthews has come into training camp in the best shape of his life and his peers are starting to notice. So are his coaches as the team has decided Matthews will also be responsible for killing penalties this season, which makes all of the sense considering he's becoming known as an elite-defensive player who is always at the top of the takeaways stat at the end of the season. 

Matthews trained harder this offseason than he ever has but that doesn't mean he's put on muscle. He's actually slimmed down thanks to some unique training sessions with an interesting trainer. He trained for weeks with Connor McDavid and others in Arizona and Anthony Duclair of the Florida Panthers called it the best hockey he's ever been a part of and he wished they had camera crews at the rink everyday.

Matthews was one goal off the Rocket Richard trophy last season and there's certainly a chance, at the end of this season you will hear his name in contention for the Selke trophy and if the Maple Leafs can finally get over the hump, he will get some Hart votes.

While it's no secret everyone loves poking fun at the Leafs for not being able to win a playoff series in 15 years, this year certainly feels different around the team and if they're going to manage to take the next step, expect Auston Matthews to be the reason why.

Photo credit: Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire