Toronto Maple Leafs: Mike Babcock challenges Auston Matthews to continue improving

TORONTO, CANADA - MARCH 07: Auston Matthews
TORONTO, CANADA - MARCH 07: Auston Matthews /

Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock had some things to say about the expectations for Auston Matthews next season.

As we enter August, Toronto Maple Leafs fans are closer to the beginning of the season. The main source of hockey at the moment is the World Junior Summer Showcase. Currently, the Leafs have 2017 first round pick Timothy Liljegren, 2017 2nd round pick Eemeli Rasanen, and 2015 third round pick Joseph Woll playing in the tournament.

It’s no surprise that head coach Mike Babcock would be keeping tabs on players that could potentially play for him in the future. Adam Kimelmen from spoke to Babcock at the Showcase on Monday about Auston Matthews going into his sophomore year.

It’s funny to say, “going into his sophomore year”. After the season Matthews just had, you’d think that he’s been in the NHL for years.

Matthews destroyed rookie records all over the Leafs history books. He finished the season with 40 goals and 69 points and put together four goals and an assist in five playoff games. Leafs fans have already started to project how many goals and points he could score next season.

Related Story: Top 10 Auston Matthews Goals

Some have said that he may have less goals but more assists. Others believe that his totals would increase in both categories. Matthews was one goal away from matching Leafs great Mats Sundin‘s highest goal total from the 2000-2001 season. Perhaps he can beat it next season?

What does Babcock have to say about it?

"I don’t measure guys by points, I measure guys by how they play and how they compete every day and how much better they get in their determination. We’re excited to see what he can do. He feels he’s a real good player and wants to be one of the best players in the game."

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There’s a reason why center is the hardest position to play in the NHL. It’s great to put up points, but the most important thing is the play away from the puck. Especially on a Babcock coached team. William Nylander had all the skill in the world, but still found himself on the fourth line at times for not being defensively responsible.

Us fans can hope for more points from the 2016 first overall pick. What Leafs management hopes is to see an improvement in an already solid 200 ft game from Matthews. However, in what we saw over the course of this past season, there’s no doubt he will be better in all areas.

Next: Marlies Roster Projections

What are your expectations for Matthews next season? Can he lead the Toronto Maple Leafs to another playoff appearance? Let us know your thoughts down below!