The Denver Post - - SPORTS -

7 p.m. Thurs­day, ALT, 950 AM

Toronto’s 19-yearold rookie cen­ter con­sid­ered play­ing for the Univer­sity of Den­ver last sea­son. Matthews, the No. 1 pick in the 2016 draft, is sec­ond be­hind Win­nipeg’s Pa­trik Laine in rookie goals (18 to 15) and rookie points (29 to 24). Matthews was born and raised in Scotts­dale, Ariz., and will make his NHL de­but in his home state Fri­day when the Maple Leafs visit the Coy­otes. If he had cho­sen the NCAA route over ma­jor-ju­nior or Euro­pean pro­fes­sional leagues, the Pi­o­neers be­lieved he would have come to Den­ver. As it was, he played last sea­son with for­mer Avalanche coach Marc Crawford for Zurich SC in Switzer­land, lead­ing the pro team with 24 goals. NOTE­BOOK: Maple Leafs: They are be­gin­ning a four-game stretch out­side Toronto but will re­turn home for Christmas af­ter play­ing two games, the lat­ter on Fri­day at Ari­zona. They visit the Florida Pan­thers and Tampa Bay Light­ning on Wed­nes­day and Thurs­day, re­spec­tively. … Cen­ters Tyler Bozak and Ben Smith are out with in­juries. Bozak is the for­mer Univer­sity of Den­ver stand­out and Smith be­gan the sea­son with the Avalanche un­til the Maple Leafs picked him up on waivers. … The Leafs re­called goal­tender Antoine Bibeau from the Amer­i­can Hockey League’s Toronto Mar­lies on Tues­day, trad­ing places with Jhonas En­roth. In his NHL de­but, Bibeau took the 3-1 loss to the Avalanche on Dec. 11 in Toronto. Bibeau will start against the Avs or Fri­day against the Coy­otes. … Toronto is 3-6-5 on the road.

Spot­light on Aus­ton Matthews:

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