Auston Matthews, Kasperi Kapanen or Morgan Rielly?
Which Maple Leaf has been the biggest surprise in the early going of this National Hockey League season?
As Toronto enjoys one of its best starts in franchise history, the winners of five straight games are not only on top of the NHL standings, they are getting superlative performances from up and down their lineup.
Matthews has gotten off to an epic tear, scoring 10 goals and adding six assists in seven games and registering at least two points in every game.
The only other NHL players to record seven straight multi-point games to start a season are Wayne Gretzky (Edmonton Oilers, 1983-83), Mike Bossy (New York Islanders (1984-85), and Mario Lemieux and Kevin Stevens (Pittsburgh Penguins, 1992-93).
Not bad company, eh?
Since Kapanen has been paired on Toronto’s top line with Matthews and veteran Patrick Marleau against Chicago on Oct. 7, the 22-year-old Finnish speedster has accumulated four goals and four assists and has made Leafs fans forget about the contract negotiations involving forward William Nylander.
And if Kapanen keeps performing, Nylander’s negotiating power diminishes by the day.
Rielly has been lights out so far this season. His 13 points are only second to Matthews’ 16, he has yet to take a penalty this season, and he’s tied with fellow defenceman Ron Hainsey with a team-best plus-7.
So which one has been the biggest surprise so far this year?
This is Matthews’ third season in the NHL and I don’t think too many fans are shocked by his unworldly offensive outburst. Kapanen is an offensively gifted player who is greatly benefiting from playing alongside Matthews, hence the point spike. Rielly has shown us in the past that he has an offensive flair to his game, but the point clip that he is producing is the most stunning.