Matthews, Laine already making presence felt for Maple Leafs, Jets

It a matter of mind-set: Would an NHL team prefer the big, steady franchise center or the flashy, elite-level goal-scorer? Regardless of how a team front office casts its vote, there no denying that, yet again, the NHL has welcomed in two of the better rookies it seen in recent memory this season in the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Auston Matthews and the Winnipeg Jets’ Patrik Laine. Wednesday in Winnipeg will be the first meeting between the No. 1 and No. 2 picks in the 2016 NHL draft. Auston Matthews, Patrik Laine lead deep, talented pool of NHL rookies have my own career and he has his own,” Laine said, according to Sportsnet. don need any rivalry between us. I just focus on my own job.” t definitely a media and fans story,” added Matthews. think both of us don really look at it as a comparison.” Each has already mastered the art of deflection as the media tries to drum up hype for their matchup and create some sort of rivalry to eventually replace Ovechkin vs Crosby. These are very much the type of players that are often bred in the hockey world: team on the front of the sweater first, name on the back second. In terms of ability, however, Laine and Matthews are just part of the bigger shift toward the NHL becoming a young man game. hen [players] arrive theye probably more ready than they used to be,” Leafs coach Mike Babcock said, pointing to better amateur coaching, as well as strength development and nutritionists available to players. “Physical development is way ahead of where it used to be.” In short, according to one of the most seasoned coaches in the game, the better prepared that players are before they reach the NHL, the more of an impact they can make immediately. “Major junior is just NHL light,” Babcock said. t like light beer, it the same principle.” It no coincidence that Matthews and Laine have immediately found success. In part, the points that theye accrued are owed to theopportunities their coaches have provided them Both players are second in ice time on their teams at their positions. Roundtable: Matthews, McDavid lead NHL hot topics among media members think it real simple: If youe got good young players you use them,” Babcock said. “And if you can find a way to get them in you can find a way.” As early as it is in the season Francis Beauvillier Jersey, it doesn look as if either player will be dropping out of his lineup anytime soon. And if there one thing neither lacks, it confidence. ts interesting, as soon as you [become] cautious with a young guy, he knows it,” Babcock said. f theye good players they get confidence and they get going.” A few seasons back, an early season game between the Maple Leafs and the Jets might not have been much of a draw. But as the league trends younger, and more players like Laine and Matthews begin making an impact immediately, fans of every franchise can expect more meaningful games with enticing young players throughout the season.

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