Maple Leafs Have Big Plans For Auston Matthews

Last season Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs averaged 20:58 of ice-time per game and not a lick of it was on the penalty kill. This season expect his ice-time to increase as the Leafs have plans to use Matthews and his faceoff abilities more with a man in the box.

Matthews will likely be seen taking a number of faceoffs and heading to the bench as the Leafs faceoff percentage on the penalty kill last season was ranked 25th in the league, while they were ranked 3rd overall even strength. The problem was they had wingers taking draws to start the PK's and it's great for Leafs Nation to see the coaching staff and the player buy-in to the change. 

Expect to see Matthews along with Alexander Kerfoot, Mitch Marner, Zach Hyman and Ilya Mikheyev killing penalties for the blue and white. A lot of the time with teams they don't want anyone from their first-line on the PK because they worry about blocking shots and breaking feet, however it sounds like the Maple Leafs aren't too worried about Matthews or Marner getting hurt and want to give them some more ice-time. It also doesn't hurt both are ranked near the top of the league in takeaways and are developing into elite players on both sides of the puck.

Auston Matthews on the penalty kill means he's one more step closer to winning a Selke trophy. Considering he was one goal shy of winning the Rocket Richard trophy last year already, and is developing into one of the best players in the game, all the Leafs now need to do is win, and Matthews may find himself in a league of his own atop the NHL's best.

Photo credit: Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire