Auston Matthews became the first player in NHL history to score four goals in his regular-season debut. He is the fifth player in NHL history to score a hat trick in his regular-season debut and the first in Maple Leafs history.
Matthews, 19, was drafted first overall in the 2016 draft and was Toronto’s first No. 1 selection.
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) October 13, 2016
He scored four goals on six shots in 17 minutes and 37 seconds, For proper contrast, here’s how other superstars fared in their first career NHL game.
One of the greatest players of all time made his NHL debut in 1979, and recorded an assist. Gretzky recorded his first NHL goal in his third game and finished the year with 51 goals and 137 points.
Lemieux scored on his first shift in his NHL debut in 1984, he also had an assist. He finished his rookie season with 43 goals and 100 points.
Ovechkin was the No. 1 pick in the 2004 draft and scored twice in his first game. Ovechkin would score 52 times in his rookie season and captured the Calder Trophy at season’s end.
Crosby was the No. 1 pick in the 2005 draft. He had one assist in his first game and finished the season with 39 goals and 102 points.
the 2015 No. 1 pick had two shots on goal in his NHL debut, but did not record a point. Due to an injury he only played 45 games his rookie season and recorded 16 goals and 48 points.
What has stood out most about Matthews, since becoming the first No. 1 overall pick selected by the Leafs in more than three decades, is how even-keeled he’s remained. His first comment to reporters after the game was that he let Kyle Turris break free in overtime on the winning goal.
“That last play was 100 per cent my fault,” said Matthews. “Obviously we came here to win and we didn’t get that done. So obviously just a good learning point for myself and the team. We’ll be ready come Saturday.”
It’s been a long time since there was reason for this much hope around the Maple Leafs and in the words of Babcock: “Now we have an opportunity.”