It may be hard for some fans to grasp, but Matthews is a Toronto Maple Leaf. "Ideally, we'll stay healthy and he'll get to play the whole slot of games".
It was fitting then, that the most prevalent jersey, to the eye at least, at BMO Field on January 1st, 2017 was the freshly pressed Centennial Classic Auston Matthews jersey.
It's back, and it's been missing for some time.
Along with the Winnipeg Jets' Patrick Laine, Matthews has a shot at becoming the only teenage freshman to reach 40 goals in the salary-cap era. With his pair, Matthews now has 20 goals on the season, the most among rookies, and is on pace for 45.
If you don't really know what to expect, there's no way preparing for it and you just have to take it day by day, game by game and he's done a real good job of developing.
Eric Lindros, also age 19 for Philadelphia in the '92-93 season, scored 32 goals at even strength in only 61 games, but did so in a league with more offense and power plays and poorer goaltending.
The outdoor games are always pretty spectacular to watch, if for no other reason than taking in the sights and beauty of the setting.
"One of the best moments in hockey I've ever experienced for myself", said Matthews. This game against Toronto marks the second of a seven-game road trip, but luckily for the Motor City residents, they've found more success on their travels - now hosting a 9-6-1 record when away but a sodden 7-10-3 record at the Joe Louis Arena.
"I'd say with him it seems that he has a very clear path and plan that he wants to follow - in the way the team's run and the way we want to play and things like that", said Leafs winger James van Riemsdyk ahead of Sunday's Centennial Classic meeting between Toronto and Detroit.
It more than made up for a boring opening 40 minutes.
With how good Jared Coreau has been in his two starts, it looks like he will be the starter for today's game.
The enthusiasm went right to the Leafs' legs and the goals started raining down.
"So many of our guys are used to dominating when they have the lead".
The Red Wings were stunned. "He's going to get quicker in the neutral zone".
It proved to be prescient.
When Brendan Shanahan was traded to Detroit in the fall of 1996 the Red Wings were engulfed in a 42-year Stanley Cup drought.
The Leafs had a three-goal third period lead, with Leo Komarov, Mitch Marner and Connor Brown all finding the back of the net before Matthews scored his 20th of the season in the extra time frame.
"At playoff time in the National Hockey League you're either up one or down one", said Babcock.
"The challenge now is to do it every single night", Blashill said. "He's a guy you love on your team".
But as our alumni went out to play we took a short bus ride to Ricoh Coliseum for practice.
It was the fifth straight win for the Leafs and put them within three points of Boston for third place in the Atlantic Division. Sunday's victory on the big stage provided a calling card moment for a roster that dressed nine rookies - one so significantly remade from previous year alone.
In overtime, both Nazem Kadri and Morgan Rielly missed breakaways chances for the Leafs. "I think we have a great feeling going on in this room, we have lots of confidence with the people that we have here".
Where Sunday's big-game experience leads remains to be seen, but it was afternoon that won't soon be forgotten.