It's not often that a 19 year old kid can match all of the expectations that the media and NHL hype machine put on him. It is completely unheard of such a player doing it in his very first NHL game.
But that's exactly what Auston Matthews did on October 12th, 2016. And he made NHL history (in modern era - since 1943) in the process.
Matthews, the first overall draft choice in the summer of 2016 and the kid appointed the apparent savior of the long suffering Toronto Maple Leafs, scored an amazing four goals in his very first NHL game.
Not surprisingly, Matthews' four goals is a NHL record for a player in his very first game.
Four goals in one game is pretty rare by any NHL player, let alone in a debut. Only four times in NHL history has a debuting rookie registered a hat trick with three goals.
- Alex Smart, Montreal vs. Chicago, Jan. 14, 1943.
- Real Cloutier, Quebec vs. Atlanta, Oct. 10, 1979.
- Fabian Brunnstrom, Dallas vs. Nashville, Oct. 15, 2008.
- Derek Stepan, New York Rangers at Buffalo, Oct. 9, 2010
Matthews did come one point shy of tying Al Hill's NHL record for most points in a NHL debut. On February 14th, 1977 Hill scored two goals and three assists for five points for the Philadelphia Flyers.
It is interesting to note that of the players listed above, three (Smart, Brunnstrom and Hill) fizzled out pretty quickly while Cloutier and Stepan had solid careers.
The expectations for Matthews will remain much higher than that.