NHL Notebook: Tij Iginla following in father’s footsteps and Maple Leafs’ Matthews dealing with illness

Toronto Maple Leafs Auston Matthews
Photo credit:Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports
Aleena Aksenchuk
5 days ago
There’s a new Iginla on centre stage representing Canada as former NHL star Jarome Iginla’s son Tij is carrying on the family legacy and is following in his father’s footsteps.
When the elder Iginla dawned the red and white for U-18 Team Canada in 1994-95, he recorded 13 points in five games, a total that led all players. A year later, he led the 1996 World Juniors to gold and later won an Olympic gold medal in 2002 and 2010.
His daughter, Jade, continued the legacy, winning gold at her only national team appearance in the 2022 U-18 World Championship.
Now, 17-year-old Tij is on track to have the same success as his older sister and his father. In his first IIHF competition, the youngster recorded a point per game at the U-17 World Hockey Challenge last year while making waves this year at the 2024 U-18 World Championship in Finland.
“It’s super special to throw on this jersey,” Iginla told Daily Faceoff’s Steven Ellis. “You dream of that as soon as you start playing hockey. Looking up to my dad and seeing my sister at the U-18 Women’s Worlds was really cool. Now with this type of group, it’s super special.”
Iginla was the final player added to the roster after being eliminated from the playoffs with the Western Hockey League’s Kelowna Rockets. During the run, Iginla showcased a clutch performance, scoring nine goals and 15 points in 11 games, which compliments his tremendous regular season, where he recorded 47 goals and 84 points in 64 games.
With the addition of Iginla, Team Canada now boasts an impressive roster, perhaps one of the most remarkable since the 2021 roster consisting of Connor Bedard, Wyatt Johnston, and company, who last won the tournament.
As WHL playoffs continue and the 2024 Draft is on the horizon, the question is no longer whether or not Iginla will be selected in the first round. Instead, how high will he go? Daily Faceoff projected the forward to be selected 11th overall, but scouts say he may be in the top 10.
“Depending on the team, he could go as high as five,” Ellis reported from a scout. “Many teams really like him and think there’s even more to his game that he hasn’t unlocked.”
According to SportContract data, Iginla sits with at least a 60 percent Corsi-for and expected goals-for more often than not this season, which shows a Rockets team is better with him on the ice than not.
Ellis reported that the most crucial part of Iginla’s success comes from his shot. By putting a significant amount of shots on net, the youngster consistently looks for opportunities to use his space to his advantage.
The forward’s most prominent area of improvement may be how he distributes the puck, Ellis added. Last season, it appeared to be a game of hot potato, with Iginla making passes to take the pressure off. However, this season, he reads the play and distributes it to who can utilize the puck best.
Winning gold just months before the 2024 NHL Draft would be a helpful addition for the six-foot winger. With scouts believing in his talents as a top draft pick, there’s no better time for the young Iginla to follow in his father’s footsteps.

Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe provides update on Auston Matthews’ illness

After Toronto Maple Leafs superstar forward Auston Matthews left game four against the Boston Bruins on Saturday, head coach Sheldon Keefe provided an update on what is happening with his captain. 
Matthews has been dealing with an illness over the past few days, which has resulted in a few missed practices between games three and four against the Boston Bruins. On Saturday, the effects of the illness took a toll on the star forward, which led him to not return to the Leafs bench for the third period. 
“For whatever reason, it’s not one of those run-of-the-mill everyday type of illnesses that sort of come and go. This one has lingered,” said Keefe on Sunday. “The effects have lingered and gotten worse when he gets on the ice and is asserting himself.”
Matthews had a phenomenal regular season. After recording 69 goals and 107 points, he is nearing becoming the first player since 1993 to reach the 70-goal mark in his career. 
Unfortunately, the postseason has seen Matthews become more inconsistent, and the illness could be one of the significant factors. Matthews has gone pointless in three of four games, but his goal and two assists in game two aided in the only Leafs win of the series, highlighting the impact of his performance on the team. 
As arguably one of the best goal scorers in the league, his regular season performance leads him to win his third Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy of his career. The 26-year-old is in the final year of his five-year contract and will enter into a new four-year contract with a $13.25 million cap hit he signed ahead of the 2023-24 season. 
The Leafs are currently down 3-1 in their series against the Bruins and will look to keep their season alive in game five in Boston on Tuesday.

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