ILIndoor Top 50: Mark Matthews #20

Mark Matthews scored 38 goals for Edmonton, third-most in a single season by an NLL rookie. (Photo: Ward Laforme Jr.)
Mark Matthews scored 38 goals for Edmonton, third-most in a single season by an NLL rookie. (Photo: Ward Laforme Jr.)

The Edmonton Rush — and the National Lacrosse League — knew exactly what to expect when Mark Matthews was made the No. 1 overall entry draft pick in 2012. And for all intents and purposes, both got exactly what they wanted. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound left-hander out of Oshawa, Ont., brought a boatload of scoring potential and considering the 38 goals he scored is the third-most by a rookie in NLL history, there are plenty more to come, along with plenty more seasons to watch him do it. Using size and skill to get the job done for the Rush in 2013, it should come as no surprise that this early in his career, Matthews has his name in the NLL record book next to guys like Paul Gait and John Grant Jr. And that’s why it’s also should be no surprise to find Matthews on ILIndoor’s list of the Top 50 players in the game today.

The anticipated debut of Matthews in a Rush sweater came on Jan. 13 and he promptly delivered a 5-point game, bolstered by 3 goals. He went on to score 3 or more goals in 4 of his first 7 games, including a 6-goal game on Feb. 15. The 38 goals Matthews finished the regular season with puts him behind Gait (47) and Ryan Painter (45), and just ahead of Grant (37).

The total also stands as a franchise single-season record for Edmonton and it helped him win the NLL’s Rookie of the Year, the first in Edmonton’s history. But that’s not all there is to Matthews, who was a busy lacrosse man in 2013.

After his NLL season ended, he split time between the field and the box. He finished fourth in team scoring for the MLL’s New York Lizards with 17 points (11-6) despite playing in just 8 games. He also secured his transfer from Major Series to the Western Lacrosse Association, where he joined the Langley Thunder and posted an impressive 17 points (5-12) in just 5 games. And although Langley’s bid for a third straight Mann Cup appearance fell short, he was a playoff producer in 10 games with 22 points (10-12) for the Thunder.

To be sure, there were plenty of frequent flyer miles logged by Matthews. And considering he’s just 23 years old, there are plenty more miles — and goals — to come from the big lefty.

ILIndoor’s take

“There is so much to like about Mark Mathews now and for the long haul. This big framed finisher from Whitby has Grant–like stick skills and Gait-like size, quite a package. Still, Mathews left something on the floor this past WLA final and he wasn’t taking games over with his size or skill. Edmonton is depending on a big year from Mark. The Rush are looking for Mathews to bring the success he has brought to other teams in his past to Edmonton, where greatness has eluded the franchise for seven years.” – Marty O’Neill

“The big man had an impactful rookie season and should only get better as he progresses into his career. Matthews is a great scorer who also has the ability to make those around him better. He has great floor vision and the passing and shooting skills to take advantage of it. It’s awfully difficult to shut him down.” – Stephen Stamp

“The sky is the limit for Matthews, who has that rare combination of size and skill. Much like Grant, he’s got the size to post up and push defenders around if they body him. But he’s also got the shooting skill to use in space if defenders back up and try to play his hands. It really is a pick-your-poison proposition for opponents, who will likely get burned either way.” – Bob Chavez

Top 50

No. 50: Aaron Bold
No. 49: Brad Self
No. 48: Jesse Gamble
No. 47: Rory Smith
No. 46: Kiel Matisz
No. 45: Lewis Ratcliff
No. 44: Johnny Powless
No. 43: Tyler Hass
No. 42: Sid Smith
No. 41: Brett Mydske
No. 40: Stephan Leblanc
No. 39: Kevin Ross
No. 38: Jeff Moleski
No. 37: Drew Westervelt
No. 36: Jeff Gilbert
No. 35: Ryan Ward
No. 34: Cory Vitarelli
No. 33: Kyle Sorensen
No. 32: Corey Small
No. 31: Shawn Williams
No. 30: Scott Ranger
No. 29: Mark Steenhuis
No. 28: Casey Powell
No. 27: Josh Sanderson
No. 26: Brandon Miller
No. 25: Mike Grimes
No. 24: Chris Corbeil
No. 23: Kevin Crowley
No. 22: Geoff Snider
No. 21: John Tavares

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