Auston Matthews Met With The Leafs

Auston Matthews and the Leafs are starting to get to know each other.

Matthews, the presumptive first overall pick of the Leafs in this June’s draft, told TSN’s Darren Dreger in a one-on-one interview that he met with both Lou Lamoriello and Mark Hunter while in Russia for the World Championships.

Apparently it was the first time Matthews had met either of them, and described it as a “get to know you” type conversation.

“It was nice to meet them, talk to them, see what they thought. Get their thoughts on things,” Matthews told Dreger.

Matthews also reiterated that it would be exciting to be drafted by the Leafs first overall, calling Toronto the “Mecca” of the hockey world.

As is usually the case with these pre-draft visits, it sounds like the whole thing was pretty informal.  Naturally, having never met each other, Matthews, and conversely Lamoriello and Hunter, really just want to get to know each other.  And obviously, with Matthews a near-lock to be drafted by the team, it makes sense to get the relationship started in advance so he can begin to get comfortable with the people within the organization.  After all, if everything goes smoothly, Matthews could be a Maple Leaf for a very, very long time.

  • FlareKnight

    Yeah, nothing ground-shaking but makes sense. Time to start getting to know Matthews the individual and not just the guy they’ve seen on the ice. Of course they are drafting that guy, but who he is also matters.

    Obviously they’ll interview a ton of prospects since they have a lot of picks. But best to start at the top. Considering how valuable the first overall pick is….best to make sure you think the guy is the type of person you want.

    Definitely not the last conversation he’s going to have with Hunter and Lou, that’s for sure.

  • Gary Empey

    Babcock left off scouting the Marlies playoff games as well to go to Russia after Lou and Hunter arrived. Laine and Matthews are the only two prospects playing in this (mostly for pro mens) tourney.

    Russia has three spots still open for players who may get knocked out in this next NHL round.

    Orlov, Ovechkin, Kuznetsov to join Russia at WHC

    • Gary Empey

      If they have already decided to draft Matthews then there is no reason for all three of them to be there. Babcock preferred to continue watching the Marlies playoffs to get a better read on who is coming up to play with the Leafs next year.

      Hunter preferred to watch the WHL, Q and OHL finals to assess our 12 draft picks.

      At no time have I yet said Laine is the best player. Only the European scouts, who watched them both this year, have said that.

      What I have said is we should at least have a look at Laine. He has been the best player in this tourney so far. They are there to see them both.

      Do you honestly think the three of them dropped everything just to pop in and say hello to Matthews?

      • Gary Empey

        With the money the Leafs have to just throw around, yes, they absolutely could just be there to visit with Matthews. Note that I said “could”. But no, they are there to scout Laine, Matthews, and Puljujärvi to look for flaws, to view other draft eligible players, and to do their do diligence because, why the hell not? They have the money to blow. Spend as much of it that they need to make absolutely sure. I’m sure any other number of teams in the top 10 are also there, at least in some capacity. But a couple thousand bills to fly over to Europe in the company jet is just a drop in the bucket to have a closed door sit down with Matthews to make sure there are no issues that aren’t obvious outside the non-informative media interviews. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear they visit him 10 more time between now and the draft.

        While they should have known these players before the lottery, the Leafs could have picked anywhere between the top 6 or so players in the draft so their scouting was split. Now they are locked in and they really should only really be looking at the top 3. The boxscores are obvious by now for each of them. It’s everything else that matters. Defensive liabilities. Pre-game prep. Composure. Playmaking. Etc etc etc. But with the picks they have, why not look? Maybe they think they can trade up to grab another one of them. I’m sure they will sit down with Laine and Puljujärvi if possible but it says a lot that they saw Matthews first.

        As for the Euro scouts, of course they are biased as I’m sure we are of American and Canadian picks. The fact that the vast majority of scouts see Matthews as the obvious choice should nullify that bias. You should know my stance on the scoring difference between the two by now and that I think Laine could be the better scorer. I don’t want Matthews because he’s North American. I want him because he is the complete player.

        • Gary Empey

          Puljujärvi is not in this tourney. This is not the under twenty world juniors.

          As far as I know Laine and Matthews are the only two 18 year olds playing in the Mens IIHF World Championship in Russia.

          Even McDavid didn’t get invited last year. 18 year olds rarely get invited by their countries to play in this tourney.

          I am sure if Matthews is the best player available the Leafs will draft him. After all he has held his #one for almost 2 years.

  • Kanuunankuula

    You who are high on Laine: Try look for him in the D-zone or when Finland is leading. There’s your answer on why he is 2nd overall.

    I’m Finnish, I have the bias towards him, but even I acknowledge Matthews is the clear cut number one.

    • dougie88

      Agreed. You’re drafting 1 or maybe 2 zones of effectiveness with Laine. You’re drafting 3 full zones of effectiveness with Matthews. His positioning and hockey IQ in his own zone are off the charts. As soon as he turns it over in his zone, he’s driving the play the other way as well.