It really comes as no surprise to anyone that the Toronto Maple Leafs Auston Matthews was the 2016-2017 season winner of the Calder Memorial Trophy. This trophy is given to the rookie of the year. He earned himself a place at the top of the NHL’s leaderboard this season scoring 40 goals and racking up 29 assists in just 82 regular season games. He ended his year tied for second place in goals, which was just four behind the leader Sidney Crosby. Pretty impressive for the 19-year-old Arizona native. Matthews stayed humble when receiving his award, though. He is definitely aware of all of the other young talent he’s played against and with in the league.
“It’s a pretty big surprise to me. Not only Patrik, but Zach to do what he did as a defensman at 19 years old, it’s not easy. It’s probably the hardest position to play being that young. Other players that weren’t here, there was such a good rookie class. It’s definitely an honor to win this award.”- Auston Matthews
Matthews was up for the award against fellow rookies Patrik Laine (Winnipeg Jets) and Zach Werenski (Columbus Blue Jackets), who have both earned their nominations. The Maple Leaf forward beat his opponents by a landslide, earning 164 of the 167 first place votes. There was not even a comparison, though the other two had an equally impressive season of their own. When Matthews scored four goals in his NHL debut, it was almost inevitable that he would be up on that stage this year.
His youth is something that doesn’t go unnoticed, and NHL Awards host Joe Manganiello brought up in his opening monologue that the awards show was the only place he wouldn’t be carded. “It was pretty funny. It’s pretty true. There’s a lot of young talent in the league,”said Matthews about Manganiello’s joke.
Growing up so close to Vegas, it’s no surprise that Matthews has very positive feelings towards the Vegas Golden Knights. Anyone who has grown up in a warm-weather hockey market, you becoming very supportive of the other’s in the league. Auston Matthews definitely realizes how great of an impact it has on the league and the growth of the game, especially since he got into it because of the Arizona Coyotes move to the desert.
“Personally, I think it’s awesome. Like I said, I grew up 5 hours away and played a lot of hockey tournaments here. I’m pretty familiar with the area,” said Matthews on the expansion. “I think them getting a team is just going to be awesome. There will be a nice rivalry there with Arizona.”