The Matthews vs Draisaitl debate: Why Matthews is the superior player

Published April 4, 2022 at 1:26 PM
BY RYAN SMITHERAM
Auston Matthews and Leon Draisaitl have both hit the 50-goal plateau recently, which has once again sparked the debate of who is better and who should win the Hart Trophy? Let's get it out of the way now, yes Matthews has Mitch Marner who plays along side him while Connor McDavid and Draisaitl are on separate lines for the most part 5-on-5. It's hard to not play Matthews and Marner together 5-on-5 when your team ranks 29th in power play opportunities (but the refs favour the Leafs, right?)

All that changes when you look at the power play time though, where Draisaitl has 273 minutes of PP time compared to Matthews' 189 minutes. Draisaitl has 31 PP points compared to Matthews' 21 and ranks 26 spots higher (2nd) than Matthews, only behind McDavid in PP production. Draisaitl and McDavid have also played 250+ minutes together on the power play, which is a full game more than Matthews total PP time where they combine for 66 points - 16 points more than Marner and Matthews combined.

In 61 less minutes than Draisaitl on the PP, Matthews averages 4.45PPG/60 and 7.94PPP/60 while Draisaitl averages 4.41PPG/60 and 7.93PPP/60 making Matthews the more productive of the two. Additionally, Draisaitl has 5 more PPG than Matthews in the race for the Rocket Richard Trophy, once again needing help from special teams.

Jumping to 5-on-5, Matthews has produced 54 points (32 goals) in 63 games while Draisaitl has produced 51 points (25 goals) in 70 games. When Matthews is on the ice, the Leafs control the play 59.2% of the time, but when Draisaitl is on the ice, the Oilers only control play 52.7% of the time. Awful hard to score when you're chasing the puck almost as much as you have it. As much as the Leafs have the puck when Auston is on the ice, when they don't have it, he is often the one to get it back as he is the only forward in the top 5 in takeaways (2nd) with 75 while Draisaitl has just 61 in 7 more games played.


Some of you will say Draisaitl kills penalties and Matthews doesn't, but in reality Matthews doesn't need to kill penalties because they have guys that can kill penalties. Draisaitl kills penalties because the Oilers lack of depth has essentially forced him to become a penalty killer. Not to mention, the Leafs are one of the least penalized teams in the league.

Now, we all know the league usually awards the Hart trophy to the player with the most points and that's usually McDavid, and looks like it could be again. However, it should be going to the player most valuable to his team and, in this case, Drasaitl isn't even the most important player on his team, while Matthews is (Marner is playing his way into this conversation though). Should we also mention that Matthews is the first Leaf to score 50 goals in almost 20 years and just the 4th Leaf to do so in the team's 105-year history? Oh and Draisaitl is the only player in NHL history to score 4 goals and have a -4 or worse rating in the same game. Draisaitl will never be the greatest Oiler of all time but Matthews will undoubtedly be the greatest Leaf of all time, as long as he signs an extension.

*Stats courtesy of MoneyPuck, Hockey-Reference and StatMuse
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