One of the main criticisms going into this season with such a young roster was that they would start strong and then hit the inevitable rookie wall which would hinder their chances at making real progress up the standings.
What has happened since however has been the breaking down of that wall and dismantling of Maple Leafs records not seen ever in this franchise’s history. No Maple Leaf rookie class has had this much of an impact ever, no group of recent rookies has had their impact been felt game in and game out on such a regular basis.
Zach Hyman started the bulldozing of Maple Leafs records when he set two team rookie records (most short-handed goals, longest assist streak by a rookie). William Nylander than took his turn smashing a Maple Leafs record when he set the record for longest point streak by rookie.
Marner tied a rookie franchise record in the recent game against the New Jersey Devils, an assist record that had stood for more than 70 years. Auston Matthews then took his turn at the Maple Leafs record books, when he tied Wendel Clark’s goals scored by a rookie at 34. With another two weeks of the regular season still to play, Auston Matthews is set to make a record himself.
What makes this even more outstanding is that these records are breaking all under the pressure of being in an unexpected playoff race. The remainder of the season fans can expect the writing of new records with the names of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander all being etched in Maple Leafs lore.
In the season where the media, fans and management expected these rookies to hit a wall all they have done is smash up through the roof with plenty more to give as each of these highly skilled rookies round out their professional games. The experience and the coming together with the already established veterans all bodes well for the hopes and expectations that this young core will take serious steps moving forward to competing for the Stanley Cup and finally bring the cup home to Leafs Nation.