Toronto Maple Leafs: 2017-18 Preview: Looking at the forwards

TORONTO, CANADA - OCTOBER 02: Auston Matthews
TORONTO, CANADA - OCTOBER 02: Auston Matthews /
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First line: Zach Hyman/Auston Matthews/William Nylander

It has been a while since the Leafs had a 40-goal scorer and the first time a rookie has achieved that mark. Matthews exceeded many expectations last season and many are putting him among the elite players in the league.

Not too far behind him is Nylander who moved up and down the lineup but ultimately stuck with Matthews for a long stretch and into the playoffs.  Nylander had 22 of his 34 points at even strength with Matthews on the ice and will be ready to improve on that this season.

With many wondering if Hyman would continue to play alongside Nylander and Matthews, head coach Mike Babcock quickly silenced any doubt.

There was no Leafs duo more dominant than Matthews and Nylander and that should be an encouraging sign heading into the season. Nylander will be looking to impress as he looks to secure a long-term extension, while Matthews is eligible to sign a new deal at the end of this season.

What makes this line dangerous are the different tools each player possess. Matthews has the strength, shooting ability and tenacity, Nylander has the play-making, underrated shot and phenomenal skating, then there is Hyman who brings the work ethic and puck pursuit ability that Babcock constantly praises him for.

There is no reason why this trio cannot improve on their performance from last season. Many will wonder if the sophomore slump will have an impact on their play but judging by what they showed in the preseason, that should not be an issue.