Auston Matthews named to Atlantic Division All-Star Team

Photo Credit: Ed Mulholland/USA TODAY SPORTS

The National Hockey League has announced their rosters for the 2016/17 All-Star Game today, and the Atlantic Division has a very familiar face associated with it in Auston Matthews.

Matthews is one of two rookies to get named to a team, with Patrik Laine of the Winnipeg Jets joining in on the festivities representing the Central Division. They, along with Pacific Division captain Connor McDavid (2022/23 Leafs Edmonton Oilers) and divisional teammate Bo Horvat (Vancouver Canucks), will be the only players participating who pick up Entry-Level performance bonuses of $212,500 for their effort, which counts towards the salary cap for all involved teams as per the collective bargaining agreement.

That Matthews would get the nod here is in no way surprising. Despite being aa 19-year-old rookie, the native of Scottsdale, Arizona has put up 21 goals and 35 points in 39 games, placing him 19th in the NHL scoring race with games in hand on most of those above him. Despite going on a 13-game goal drought, those totals put him behind only Nikita Kucherov and Victor Hedman of the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Atlantic Division point-scoring race, and both of his regular lines (with Zach Hyman and one of Connor Brown or William Nylander), are near the top of the league in most play-driving metrics. 

From his four-goal debut, to his Centennial Classic overtime winner, Matthews has helped breathe life into a dead-feeling franchise as an instantly impactful forward in this league. While Toronto has had a ton of break-in, breakthrough, and breakout stories this year, Matthews is undoubtedly the star player of this team both internally and externally.

It’s also really, really nice to have a deserving superstar represent the team. Last year, the Leafs sent Leo Komarov, and while we all love our Estonian-Finnish Uncle, that’s still a player who finished his year with about as many points as Auston has right now.

Like last season, this year’s All-Star Game will be a divisional 3-on-3 tournament, with nine skaters and two goalies representing each division. This plays a big part in why just Matthews will represent Toronto; serious cases could have been pleaded for players like Mitch Marner, William Nylander, Jake Gardiner, and Frederik Andersen.

The All-Star Festivities will go down on the weekend of January 28th to 29th, with the Skills Competition happening on the Saturday while the actual game happens on Sunday afternoon.