Toronto Maple Leafs 2023-24 Report Card: Auston Matthews

Toronto Maple Leafs 2023-24 Report Card: Auston Matthews

Auston Matthews‘ 2022-23 season was, relative to previous seasons, somewhat disappointing. He “only” scored 40 goals and 85 points, which, although in the upper echelons of the league’s production numbers, was sub-par to his previous seasons in just about every aspect of his game. Heading into this season, then, Matthews was looking for a bounce-back. Suffice it to say, he completed that goal and then some.

Regular Season

The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about Matthews’ regular season is that he was just one goal away from becoming the ninth player in NHL history and the first since 1992-93 to pot 70 goals in a single campaign. He sat one short of the mark for the final two games of the season but was unable to find the back of the net in those games. Still, he eclipsed the 100-point mark with ease, putting 38 assists with his 69 goals for a total of 107 points.

His underlying statistics, as we’ve become accustomed to, were elite once again. For the fifth consecutive season, his 5v5 expected goals share (xGF%) surpassed 55%. This season, the Maple Leafs controlled 56.04% of the expected goals when he was on the ice. While not as dominant as his 64.00% season in 2021-22, he was certainly among the league’s very best, placing first on the Maple Leafs and 31st in the league overall among players with at least 900 5v5 minutes. Matthews’ high-danger chance share (HDCF%) also mirrored the expectation he’s set for himself in recent years, with Toronto controlling 58.78% of the high-danger chances while he was on the ice.

Relative to the previous two seasons, Matthews’ offensive metrics decreased a bit, with his expected goals for per 60 (xGF/60) dropping to 3.16, a significant decrease from the 3.54 and 3.61 in the two most recent prior campaigns. With that said, his individual expected goals per 60 (ixG/60), or the number of goals he was expected to score per 60 minutes, was the second-highest mark of his career at 1.31 — that number put him at fourth in the NHL. His defensive game slightly improved from last season, with his expected goals against per 60 (xGA/60) improving from 2.61 to 2.48. To be honest, though, none of that really matters when you put together a 69-goal season.

With his superb 2023-24 came a plethora of trophy nominations and victories. Unsurprisingly, Matthews took home the Maurice Rocket Richard Trophy with ease, scoring 12 more goals than the second-place finisher, Sam Reinhart. In addition to that, Matthews was a finalist for the Frank J. Selke Trophy as a testament to his phenomenal defensive game — he placed third in that voting behind Aleksander Barkov and Jordan Staal. He is also a finalist for the Lady Byng Trophy, a measure of a player’s skill and “gentlemanly conduct,” and the Ted Lindsay Award, which is effectively an alternate version of the Hart Trophy but voted upon by fellow NHLPA members.

2023-24 regular season grade: A+


It’s admittedly more difficult to judge Matthews’ playoff performance being that he had not one, but several off-ice hindrances to his ability to participate: he played ill in Game 3 of the series before team doctors pulled him midway through Game 4 for a mixture of his illness and an awkward hit that left him unable to play in the subsequent two games.

Still, in the five games he appeared in, he was pretty darn good, especially when thinking about how he was likely playing while under significant physical duress. He finished the series with four points — one goal and three primary assists — in five games. At 5v5, the Maple Leafs controlled 51.17% of the xG and 56.25% of the high-danger chances. He was eighth and third on the squad in those metrics, respectively. He had the fourth-highest xGF/60 on the team (3.19). Despite the poor result, and despite playing while injured and ill, Matthews showed up as much as he could, even being the Game 2 hero. Had he played at full health in Games 3 and 4, I don’t see why that series wouldn’t flip to a victory.

2024 playoffs grade: B

Matthews Looking to Replicate Performance Next Season

While the playoffs weren’t what any of us had hoped for the season, Matthews should certainly be looking to replicate his 2023-24 performance next season. It’s ignorant to expect another near-70-goal season, but considering that he’s broken the 60-goal threshold twice in the past three years, I wouldn’t call it a stretch to expect that once again. If he can do that while channeling the defensive dominance he had two seasons ago, there’s no reason he can’t win the Hart Trophy in 2024-25.

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