Rookie winger Matthew Knies discusses where he fits into the Leafs' lineup next season

Published June 13, 2023 at 9:13

Leafs rookie forward Matthew Knies joined Nick Alberga and Jay Rosehill on Leafs Morning Take on Monday and spoke about a number of things surrounding his first stint as a Leaf. Knies signed his 3-year entry level contract with the Leafs near the end of the season and made an immediate impact with the team, registering his first career point (an assist) in a trio of regular season games. He then joined the Leafs for 7 playoff games, registering 1 goal and 4 points before being injured. Not a bad run for his first stretch as a pro.

Knies touched on staying with team captain John Tavares last season, he touched on how he was doing following his concussion in Game 2 of the Leafs/Panthers series and he also touched on the fact that he and Matthews have been training together back in Arizona this summer. But, it was his talk on where he fits into the Leafs' lineup next season that really opened people's eyes to his intelligence and self-awareness.

"It's tough to say where I'm going to fit in. Obviously, I want to play with their best players but I just have to play my game and it's going to work out. Use my size to my advantage. I just want to fit in well with their systems and getting more comfortable with their practices. Those little things I haven't gotten too familiar with yet," said Knies when asked about where he sees himself fitting into the Leafs' lineup.

Knies didn't really have much of an opportunity to get to know the Leafs' systems via practice, as the team was on a road trip to close out the season when he joined the team, followed by the rigors of the playoffs, which don't leave a lot of time for full-blown practice sessions.

Knies may get a shot in the Leafs' top six to begin the season, depending on what they do in free agency and the trade market, and could very well see himself skating next to Auston Matthews under the right circumstances next season. In his 10 games with the Leafs so far, the 6'3, 210 pound, 20-year-old did not look out of place and showed that he belongs in the NHL. He didn't put up the offensive numbers he did at the University of Minnesota, but that was expected. The production will come once he gets used to the speed and intensity of the NHL game. NCAA to NHL is quite the jump, but Knies acquitted himself well, using his unique combination of size and skill to win puck battles, protect the puck along the boards and make smart plays in getting the puck out and in the offensive zone setting his linemates up for scoring chances. He also had a few entertaining net drives that almost resulted in goals on great individual efforts.

All in all, I think we can expect to see Knies look much more comfortable and composed once he gets dialed in with the systems during training camp. This kid will have a chance to do some real damage next season.

June 13   |   213 answers
Rookie winger Matthew Knies discusses where he fits into the Leafs' lineup next season

Will Matthew Knies open the season on Auston Matthews' wing in 2023-24?

Yes, he's too good to play in the bottom six13161.5 %
No, he'll play on the second line6631 %
No, he'll play in the bottom six167.5 %
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