When the Toronto Maple Leafs drafted Matthew Knies 57th overall in the 2021 NHL Draft, they were drafting a player that could provide something that this team was lacking for some time. A big, physical and highly skilled winger that could do it all.
Since then, Knies continues to be a factor at the collegiate level in his sophomore season. After an impressive freshman season, he is once again a point per game player (27 points in 25 games) on an extremely talented University of Minnesota team. While he had a bit of a slower start this season, he has picked up right where he left off.
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As he continues to take strides with his development, Knies is showing why the Maple Leafs drafted him as he continues to show tremendous upside as a prospect. From last season, to the Maple Leafs development camp, his game has been taken to new heights as he continues to showcase his strengths. With his play this season, there’s a good chance that he can be a possible top-six option when he signs his contract.
Patience Starting to Pay Off
Despite having a strong season as a freshman, Knies could’ve signed his entry-level contract once his season came to an end. However, he didn’t feel like he was there yet as he wanted to return for another season and continue to develop his game.
“I thought I just needed one more year (with Minnesota) to become a better player,” Knies said in the summer in a post by NHL.com’s Dave McCarthy. “I know it’s a big step to make it to the NHL and I’m trying to make it a much smoother transition. I think I’m going to develop a lot next year and hopefully I can join them at the end of the season.”
So far, so good as Knies looks to have taken a major step with his game and overall development as the patience is paying off. He continues to play with that power forward-like mentality, displaying a strong net front presence, showing off his shot and playmaking abilities as well as his overall offensive awareness and positioning. He appears to have found another gear to his game as he has more of a jump with his first step and added speed, something that he wanted to improve on this season.
The fact that both the Maple Leafs and Knies were on the same page in regards to his development, it’ll benefit both sides in the…