Auston Matthews, who became the first modern NHL player to score four goals in his first game Wednesday, would be the youngest U.S. Olympic men’s hockey player since 1992, should he be on the team in Pyeongchang in 2018.
It is of course very early to make such a projection. For one, the NHL might not send its players to the Olympics like it has done at every Winter Games since 1998.
Matthews, 19, certainly has the early pedigree — he led Team USA in goals (six) and tied for the lead in points (nine) at the world championship in May. Matthews was the youngest player on that team.
Then the Toronto Maple Leafs took him No. 1 overall in the NHL Draft on June 24.
Matthews scored in two of his three games at the World Cup of Hockey in September, against Russia and Sweden, as the youngest American in that tournament.
In 2018, Matthews would be younger than any previous U.S. Olympic men’s hockey player in the NHL participation era (since 1998) and younger than anyone on the 1994 Lillehammer Olympic team.
He would be the youngest since Albertville 1992, when the roster included three 19-year-olds — future NHL players Scott Lachance, Mike Dunham and Keith Tkachuk.
If he makes the team, that is. A long way to go, but Matthews is off to an exceptional start.
NBCSN will air live coverage of Matthews’ home debut for the Maple Leafs on Saturday at 7:15 p.m. ET.Follow @nzaccardi