A reasonable expectation for Matthew Knies in his rookie season with the Leafs

Ryan Smitheram
July 22, 2023  (3:14 PM)

Drafted in the second round of the 2021 draft, Matthew Knies was quickly called "a steal" at 57th overall. The 6'3, 210 pound forward then became the top power forward prospect not playing in the NHL following a point-per-game performance in his first year at the University of Minnesota. His first year saw him record 15 goals and 33 points in 33 games before he and the University of Minnesota's Golden Gophers were eliminated in the Frozen Four tournament.

After his first season in the NCAA, Knies was approached by the Leafs with an offer to turn pro and join them for the rest of the regular season and playoffs. Knies, however, declined and instead opted to return to the Gophers for another season. In his second season, Knies took his game to another level and was often seen on highlight packs making ridiculous plays with his speed, skill and physicality. In his second NCAA season, he registered 21 goals and 42 points in 40 games for the Gophers but once again fell short of the national title. This time, Knies took the opportunity to join the Leafs for their final 3 regular season games and playoffs.
From the start, Knies did not look out of place and looked like he had been in the league for a season already. Knies went on to collect 1 assist in 3 regular season games and a goal and 3 assists in 7 playoff games before an injury derailed his postseason. His injury was more impactful to the Leafs than many initially realized.
Heading into this season, Knies is healthy and while he will have all kinds of pressure on him to put up point-per-game type numbers, Leaf fans need to ease their expectations. He may be penciled in on the Leafs' second line right now, but while he looked solid there in a limited sample at the end of last season and in the playoffs, there will be a massive adjustment in playing 82 games.
Fans shouldn't expect Knies to be playing 19 minutes per game off the hop, but rather sheltered minutes with some time on the third line so that he will have time to adjust to the grind of a full season. Sure, injuries will play a factor as well, but for at least the first half of the season, we should not expect Knies to play top-six minutes consistently. In addition to that, we should be cautious about projecting a lot of points as well. Yes, he is a one-of-kind prospect, but for Knies, a 40-50 point rookie season would be a successful start and a reasonable expectation for the soon-to-be 21-year-old in his first full 82-game season.
22 JUILLET   |   376 ANSWERS
A reasonable expectation for Matthew Knies in his rookie season with the Leafs

What would you consider a successful season for Leafs rookie winger Matthew Knies?

30-40 points11229.8 %
41-55 points18850 %
56-65 points5514.6 %
If he gets any less than 70, I'll be disappointed215.6 %
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