The Toronto Maple Leafs are in prime position to get a massive boost in jersey sales. Not only do they have new ones now, but they've got a number of names ready to be attached to them. William Nylander. Mitch Marner. And, of course, Auston Matthews.
Except, as Elliotte Friedman points out in his final 30 Thoughts edition of the 2015-16 season, Matthews' jersey isn't available yet - because he doesn't have a number yet.
26. Here’s why you can’t buy a Toronto Maple Leafs Auston Matthews jersey right now. Matthews hasn’t been given a number by the Leafs, and the new sweater isn’t available until September. (At last year’s NHLPA rookie showcase, Mitch Marner was the only player who didn’t have a number. He wanted 93 and the Maple Leafs weren’t doing that.)
Last season was different. The Oilers made it public they were drafting Connor McDavid, gave him 97 right away and had a launch party where people could buy immediately. When Matthews has a number his jersey will be available to purchase.
This seems... odd, to say the least? Matthews wore #34 both in Zurich and with the various U.S. development teams he's played for. No current Leaf has #34; the last guy to wear it was James Reimer, and the Leafs are already looking to the future with Frederik Andersen in net. So what's the hold up?
Though in fairness, I suppose, the Oilers are used to getting someone first overall and trotting him out as the saviour immediately. Maybe the practice just isn't coming as naturally to the Leafs.