Sports NHL insider on Leafs sniper Auston Matthews: "He's not even close to (Leon) Draistaitl right now."

06:35  22 october  2019
06:35  22 october  2019 Source:   edmontonjournal.com

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“The talk about Auston Matthews being a top player in the NHL needs to stop. He ’ s not even close to Draisaitl right now ” Yeah it would be incredible. He might even score 50 goals. I hate the leafs but come on. Matthews is big time. He ’ s not generational like McDavid but he ’ s one of the best goal

This in from Craig Button, the former NHL GM and now a TSN hockey commentator, his take on Edmonton Oilers two-way ace Leon Draisaitl being a better player than Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Button was on TSN 1050 radio in Toronto with former NHLers Jamie McLennan and Jeff O’Neill.

“He’s a Top 5 player,” McLennan said of Draisaitl. “Other than him getting tired later in the game and extending his shifts and stuff — I think he extends his shifts, where he looks really tired — I think he’s as good as anybody.”

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a hockey player standing in the snow: Edmonton Oilers' Leon Draisaitl (29) battles Vancouver Canucks' Quinn Hughes (43) during first period NHL action at Rogers Place in Edmonton, on Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019. Photo by Ian Kucerak/Postmedia© Ian Kucerak Edmonton Oilers' Leon Draisaitl (29) battles Vancouver Canucks' Quinn Hughes (43) during first period NHL action at Rogers Place in Edmonton, on Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019. Photo by Ian Kucerak/Postmedia Then Button dropped the hammer: “I think the talk about Auston Matthews as being one of the best players in the league needs to stop. Because he’s not as good as Draisaitl. He’s not even close to Draisaitl right now. I know he’s a scorer but in terms of a complete player, not even in that category. He should never be in the conversation until he shows that he’s going to impact the game in the same way.”

McLennan: “Draisaitl, to me, is physically stronger on the puck. Draisaitl will go and win a 50/50 battle.”

O’Neill then said of Matthews: “He doesn’t seem to be really on the puck and heavy.”

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My take

  1. I don’t see Matthews play so I’m going to weigh in on his attributes as a player. Maybe he’s better than Draisaitl, maybe he’s far weaker. I don’t know. But I have watched every game that Leon Draisaitl has played as an Oiler, and I have done extensive video analysis of every scoring chance Draisaitl has been on the ice for, both for and against. I’m in a position to rate Draisaitl.
  2. Right now Draisaitl is playing at a higher level than he’s ever reached in the past. He’s not a perfect player. As McLennan says he can indeed stay out too long on the odd shift. He will still make the odd defensive error. But is there a player in the NHL who protects the puck better than Draisaitl? I doubt it. Is there a better passer of the puck? Maybe a few. Is there a better shooter? Maybe a handful. And when it comes to his defensive play, Draisaitl is playing sound and aggressive hockey in his own zone. He’s become a monster two-way player.   NHL insider on Leafs sniper Auston Matthews: © Provided by PostMedia Digital
  3. When it comes to the scoring chance data, Draisaitl’s numbers were always good, even as a rookie. It’s why I hated all the talk in 2015 and 2016 that he should be traded, and it’s why I always felt he would live up to his 8-year, $8.5 million contracts. But he is doing that and more. When it comes to producing and defending Grade A scoring chances, which is at the very heart of success in hockey, Draisiatl is right off the charts so far this year (it’s a small sample size, of course).
  4. When we look at his major contributions to Grade A chances per game compared to major mistakes on Grade A chances against, Draisaitl has improved dramatically. In 2015-16, he was at +0.7 Grade A scoring chances per game. He went to +1.1 per game in 2016-17, +0.9 in 2017-18, and +1.1 last year in 2018-19. This year he’s at +2.2 per game. Connor McDavid’s best number so far is +1.7 per game in 2016-17.
  5. For a centre to be even +1.0 Grade A chances per game, you know they’re playing as a strong No. 1 centre in the NHL. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has never gotten to that level, even as he’s solid two-way NHL centre. For Draisaitl to be at +2.2 per game, well, little wonder that folks like Button and McLennan speak so highly of him. He’s that good.

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