Hey Dudes! It has been of much debate since the day that Auston Matthews was drafted 1st overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs, who would be the better player. Connor Mcdavid or Auston Matthews? Now, there is simply a bias in my own point of view because I am a lifelong Oilers fan. However, I want to look at this from an objective view. First, I want to look at the current season.
As of late, Matthews has been on an absolute tear; scoring 12 points in the first five games of the 2018 season. Mcdavid has only played two games this season and put up 3 points. The sample size is small, but Matthews has been clearly the better player in terms of production. Don’t be surprised if Matthews wins the Art Ross this season, we might see him break the 120 point mark if he remains healthy. Now it stands to reason that Matthews has put up more points because he has a better supporting cast. This is true, especially with the addition of John Tavares.
However, there are many people saying that Matthews is definitely the better player because Tavares is taking some of Matthews ice-time and he still produces huge numbers. This is not true for two reasons. First, his average TOI (time on ice) has gone up since last season by about 25 seconds. Second, the addition of Tavares allows Matthews to get better matchups overall. He no longer has to face the best line from his opposition for the entire game. I am not saying that Matthews isn’t facing top-tier competition night-in, night-out; but he sure has to do it less often.
McDavid, on the other hand, does not have the luxury of a Tavares on his second line, but Leon Draisaitl. Draisaitl is a spectacular player at times but is not nearly as dangerous as Tavares. Another thing that Matthews has that McDavid doesn’t, is Nazem Kadri. Kadri can put up great numbers as well, averaging 50-60 points a season. McDavid has a third line center in Ryan Strome, who is by no means a bad player but, has only put up 50 points once in his 5 year NHL career. Once again I don’t think that Matthews is a product of the rest of his team, but it sure helps.
Let us move on to the rest of their careers. McDavid who was drafted 1st overall by the Oilers in 2015 has played in 211 games. McDavid has put up 259 points, including a season where he hit 108 points, winning the Art Ross trophy. This means that McDavid has averaged 1.23 points per season. Matthews has played in 149 games and scored 144 points, meaning that he averages 0.97 points per game. From a points-per-game perspective, McDavid looks like the clear winner.
On the defensive side, it’s a bit of a different story. Matthews averages a perfect 50% in the faceoff dot and averaged 54.51% in a 62 game 2017 campaign. McDavid on the other hand averages, about 42% in the faceoff dot. Matthews is dominant in this category. Looking at plus-minus, Matthews has a plus 26 rating, and McDavid has a plus-minus of 46. Looking at the plus-minus per game, Matthews averages 0.174, McDavid averages 0.218. This metric means that McDavid is on the ice for fewer goals against and more goals for per game than Matthews. This last metric is somewhat flawed and does not account for the individual’s linemates. On the defensive side of the puck, Matthews has the edge here.
Both of these players are highly coveted by their fans. It is only amplified by the fact that they are both in Canadian markets. Matthews is definitely more well rounded as a player, he can play defense, score goals and be effective in nearly any role. McDavid, on the other hand, is an offensive dynamo that can create space for teammates using his speed, beat defenders to the outside with his skating ability and make flashy moves in a tight space. If we were talking about which play meant more to their respective franchises, then it is undoubtedly McDavid As of this point in time, McDavid needs to work on his defensive zone abilities, mainly faceoffs to truly step ahead of Matthews.
It pains me to say this, but Matthews is the most well-rounded player, however, McDavid is the more important player. If McDavid can look to improve his defensive zone play, he will step ahead of Matthews as the better player. Many will say that I am just riding the Matthews train due to his hot start this season. And while that plays a small part in what I think about both players, it is nonetheless true that McDavid is one of the fastest and most dynamic players in the NHL. As they both age, McDavid will undoubtedly slow down and his shelf life will decline faster than Matthews. The future is bright for both stars and it is one of the most exciting times for NHL fans to have so many young talents playing at one time.