4 Big Questions for the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2020-21

Toronto Maple Leafs. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images)
Toronto Maple Leafs. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images) /
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Auston Matthews (34)
Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews (34). Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports /

2. Can Auston Matthews score 50 in 50?

Auston Matthews carved out arguably his best year yet in 2019-20, recording career-highs in goals (47), points (80) and ATOI (20:58), while also showing a real maturity to his all-round game.

He improved in the faceoff circle with a career-high win percentage of 54.9%, while he also recorded a career-high in hits with 40.

It was a sign that the superstar center had taken that next giant leap in his game and, after showing a lot more commitment to the defensive side, he is expected to be handed penalty killing duties in 2020-21.

However, one of the biggest stories last year involving Matthews was his chase for 50 goals, with the forward just falling short with 47 thanks to the COVID-19 Pandemic bringing the 2019-20 regular season to a premature end.

It was frustrating for Matthews and Leafs fans given that the 23-year-old could have surpassed Alex Oveckin and David Pastrnak to win the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy, while he was also within touching distance of beating Rick Vaive‘s franchise record of 54 goals in a single season.

However, there could be another record in sight for Matthews.

Can he score 50 goals in 56 games?

It seems a pretty ridiculous ask, granted, but Matthews is just reaching the peak of his powers and, likely to see another sharp spike in his ATOI in 2020-21, it is feasible to predict that the center will get more shooting opportunities even in a shortened season.

Matthews was averaging 0.67 goals per game prior to the pause in March, and that would have to sharply rise to 0.89 goals per game if he were to score 50 goals in 56 games.

However, it is worth remembering that Mathews will get to feast on some bad defenses 10 times a season in the North Division, and you could see him absolutely going to town on the Ottawa Senators and the Winnipeg Jets, with the latter still not seemingly having put a good blueline unit in place.

Therefore, while 50 goals in 56 games will be quite some feat, Auston Matthews and that wicked shot of his seems best equipped to at least try to pull of the spectacular. And, even if he does fall short, it will still be fun to watch.