TORONTO — It didn’t take long for Auston Matthews to make an impact at the Toronto Maple Leafs’ training camp.
The prized first overall selection skated with his new teammates for the first time Wednesday morning after a six-day break following the World Cup of Hockey. Following the formal portion of practice, Matthews shattered a pane of glass with a shot.
“It was a terrible shot ,too,” Matthews said. “It wasn’t even hard, just happened to hit the right spot I guess and shattered the whole thing. We were just messing around. It was me (Mitch) Marner, (Andrew) Nielsen, the last guys on the ice, we were just taking shots and (I) missed the net, broke the glass.”
He was asked whether he’d have to pay for the repairs.
“Yeah probably. Lou (Lamoriello) won’t be too happy,” he joked.
Mike Babcock has said the 19-year-old Matthews will start the season as the Leafs’ third-line center. On Wednesday, he skated on a line with James van Riemsdyk and Leo Komarov. He also saw power-play time alongside Milan Michalek and Dymtro Timashov.
Matthews believes the experience of playing in Toronto during the World Cup of Hockey will help with the transition to the NHL.
“It helps a lot, it makes a difference,” said Matthews, the Scottsdale, Arizona, player who spent last season in Switzerland. “Just having that (comfort of) playing in front of Toronto fans, getting a chance to play at that rink heading into the pre-season, I think it definitely gives you some confidence.
“My mindset the whole time was go in (to the World Cup) and get better and learning as much as I could. Going into it, I knew I could play at that level.”
Matthews had two goals and added an assist in three round-robin games.
His performance with the under-23 Team North America was punctuated by a highlight-reel deke from his knees around Daniel Sedin where he setup teammate Morgan Rielly for a shot and then finished it off by putting home the rebound for the game’s first goal in a 4-3 overtime win against Sweden.
“He’s a pass-first guy in my opinion, but he’s got a great shot,” Rielly said. “He’s a mature young man. He’s had an opportunity to play pro and with older guys. It’s not like he’s coming right out of junior. The adjustment will be easier for him just because of the environment he was in last year.”