Reasonable expectations for Matthew Knies in 2023-24

Published August 13, 2023 at 10:02

In a Friday piece, I took a look at what might constitute some fair and realistic expectations for newcomer Ryan Reaves. Today, I'll be taking a look at the most highly touted rookie to join the Leafs since Matthews, Marner and Nylander made their NHL debuts.

Matthew Knies was lauded as a solid pick with some real upside when the Leafs picked him up in the 2nd round of the 2021 NHL Draft. The former USHL product went the NCAA route following his run with the Tri-City Storm, playing two seasons for the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers before finally turning pro this April. After his performance in the playoffs this past season, the hype around this kid is building fast, and for good reason.

Knies is expected to reprise the top 6 role he earned himself last season - if he can perform at a similar level in training camp. Fans see his size, they see the hits he threw in college, they see the shooting talent, they see the soft hands and the vision. It's tough to not get excited about the kid. It may be best to temper expectations and as much as we all want to see him succeed, patience is a virtue. Heaping pressure on him isn't the way to go when it comes to his development.

As far as what the goals and expectations should be coming into this season, having seen him take on the 2-time defending Stanley Cup Champions in the playoffs, be on the ice for 3 overtime winners and assist on the series winning goal, Knies isn't a normal rookie. By the end of the season, I would like to see him be in the Calder Trophy conversation. Obviously, Connor Bedard will be making his highly anticipated arrival in Chicago this season, making actually winning the Calder Trophy a difficult task, but I think that Knies has the ability to be right there and will have the opportunity to put himself in that conversation, largely due to who he'll be playing with in Toronto.

As far as production goes, if he's riding shotgun to either Matthews and Marner or Tavares and Nylander, he should have no problem meeting or exceeding the 60-point plateau. We're talking about some of the most productive players in the National Hockey League here. If Knies is playing his position and getting himself involved in plays and getting his puck touches, pucks are going to end up in the net regardless with those guys. However, if Knies is cast in a bottom six role to begin the season, we could very well see him fall short of that mark, dropping to perhaps the 45-point range, which is still quite respectable for a rookie.

The real goal here should be to play positionally sound hockey, win puck battles along the wall, find or create some space in the offensive zone, create some scoring opportunities, back-check as hard as he forechecks and, lastly, try to stay as healthy as possible over his first 82-game season. If he can do these things, it would be tough to look at that and label his season as anything other than a success.
August 13   |   7 answers
Reasonable expectations for Matthew Knies in 2023-24

Over or under 55 points for Matthew Knies this season?

Over342.9 %
Under457.1 %
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