Layoff hasn’t slowed Matthews’ stride

Andrew Schopp2016 Draft CenterLeave a Comment

Auston Matthews is heating up. Again.

After recovering from an upper-body injury, the projected first overall pick at the 2016 NHL Draft picked up where he left off in Swiss National League A action with the Zurich Lions.

Before sustaining the injury in an Oct. 23 tilt with Fribourg-Gotteron, the 18-year-old center recorded 10 goals and 17 points in 14 games at the highest level of Swiss men’s hockey. Returning to action on Nov. 27, Matthews got right to scoring at a torrid pace, notching four goals and five assists in his first six games back.

According to Future Considerations Switzerland scout Dennis Schellenberg, Matthews has shown virtually no signs of rust after missing a considerable amount of action.

“He picked up his play really fast after returning from injury,” Schellenberg explained of Matthews’ return to the 20-9-3 Lions. “It wasn’t noticed at all that he missed games. He is one of the more dominant players on a top team in the Swiss league and plays well in the majority of the games.”

Matthews is a strong, powerful player who elevates the play of those around him. The 6-foot-2, 194-pound product of Scottsdale, Arizona is a tremendous skater with powerful strides and strong jump.

He possesses strong vision, excellent possession skills, a strong shot and the ability to create plays out of nothing for himself and his line mates. Dependable in the back end, Matthews puts in a good effort level to compliment a complete game.

Almost undisputedly the most highly touted prospect entering the 2016 draft, Matthews topped Future Considerations’ December ranking.

After being plucked by the Everett Silvertips in the 2012 WHL Bantam Draft – Round 3, 57th overall – Matthews headed to the USHL for two seasons. Many anticipated that he would spend his draft year in the WHL, but in September, he signed a one-year deal with the Lions to play professionally in Switzerland against grown men, some nearly twice his age.

Schellenberg added that at just 18-years-old, he doesn’t look at all out of place.

“What impressed me most about him is how fast he was playing on a high level,” Schellenberg said. “Especially for a kid in his age, in a new environment, without friends, most of the family, I expected that he would need a couple of games to adjust to everything, but that wasn’t the case at all.

“He was a man among men from the very first shift. His shot, pass and vision are above average compared to other players in the Swiss National League, which is considered a very decent EU league.”

Matthews recently took another break from Swiss League action to attend USA Hockey selection camp in Boston from Dec. 15-18 where he looked to secure a roster spot for the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship.

At the World Juniors last year, Matthews tallied a goal and a pair of assists for the Americans.

Future Considerations scouting director Dan Stewart said Matthews will lead the Americans’ charge into the 2016 edition of the tournament, which kicks off on Dec. 26 in Helsinki, Finland.

“He will be the centerpiece of the American offensive attack in Finland,” Stewart said. “Mathews will use his size, strength, compete level and offensive sense to put up points and lead this squad.”

Schellenberg concurred.

“I expect him to be dominant at the WJC, especially at areas like shooting, stick handling, vision and compete level.”

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