Neither allowed themselves to be passengers at the 2016 IIHF World Championship.
Matthews, first in Future Considerations ranking for the 2016 NHL Draft, led the Americans in goals (6), power play goals (3), and tied Detroit Red Wings forward Dylan Larkin for the team lead in points (9).
He was named one of the United States’ three best players of the tournament despite, at 18-years-old, being the youngest player on the roster.
“One thing I noticed is that he was playing strong against top teams and in big games,” said Future Considerations scout Dennis Schellenberg, who watched Matthews compete with Zurich of National League A, Switzerland’s top professional league.
“He decided the quarterfinal against the Czech Republic with his two goals and was one of the best US player against Canada. He also had a point against Finland. Coming up big in clutch moments was something I haven’t seen too many times this year from Auston.”
Matthews scored 24 goals and 46 points in 36 games for Zurich, tied for fourth in goals and points-per-game (1.28), and second in even-strength goals (19).
He was awarded the NLA’s Rising Star award and finished second in voting for most valuable player, including six-first place votes. The award went to Pierre-Marc Bouchard, who finished with eight first-place votes.
Laine, ranked second, led Finland with seven goals, three power-play goals, and tied Mikael Granlund of the Minnesota Wild with 12 points in 10 games.
He was named the tournament’s most valuable player and best forward.
“Laine’s dominance at the World Championship surprised me,” Future Considerations scout Jonathan Luomala said. “I knew that he would be a key player in Finland’s lineup, but I did not expect him to score 12 points in 10 games and win the MVP award of the tournament
“A lot of players in the national European leagues struggle to perform at the international level since it is a different style of play, but Laine proved that he could handle it with excellence. If he keeps up his development, I am sure that Laine will be a key player in his NHL team next season.”
Laine had 17 goals and 33 points in 46 regular season games, and was named the recipient of the Jari Kurri Trophy as the most valuable player in the Liiga playoffs. He recorded 10 goals and 15 points in 18 games to help Tappara to the Kanada-malja for the first time since 2003.