Current Team: Zurich Lions, Switzerland
Date of Birth: September 17, 1997
Place of Birth: Scottsdale, Arizona, USA
Weight: 194 lbs
Auston Matthews is the top-ranked player on almost every scouting list leading up to the 2016 NHL Draft. He's a true number-one center, the kind of difference maker that teams build around.
He didn't take a traditional path to the draft: rather than playing college hockey or Canadian junior, he decided to play a year of professional hockey in Switzerland. Here's what an NHL CSS scout had to say:
"He has all the tools to become a world-class, two-way center in the mold of [Chicago Blackhawks captain] Jonathan Toews or [Los Angeles Kings center] Anze Kopitar," said Thomas Roost, who evaluates draft prospects in Switzerland for NHL Central Scouting.
Matthews is looking to become the first American to go first overall since Patrick Kane was drafted in that slot in 2007. Speaking of Kane, Matthews put up a record 55-62-117 with the US U-18 NTDP in the '14-'15 season, surpassing Kane's previous U-18 record of 102 points, set in '06-'06.
Matthews joins Scott Gomez and Matthew Nieto as players with Mexican heritage, as his mother is from Mexico.
A Good Fit in Columbus?
Matthews would fill the void at number one center left by the departure of Ryan Johansen. The Jackets are in need of skill up the middle, and if the play of recent 18 year-old top picks in the NHL is any indication, Matthews should be able to grab the spot right away. Matthews flanking Brandon Saad and Cam Atkinson would be a lethal all-American top line.
Matthews in Action