Matthews’ stint with ZSC Lions ends

Aaron Vickers2016 Draft Center

Auston Matthews is done earlier than he might’ve liked.

Playing with the ZSC Lions in National League A, Switzerland’s top professional league, Matthews’ season came to an abrupt end in getting swept in four straight games to Bern in a best-of-7 first round playoff series.

Matthews tops Future Considerations’ February ranking for the 2016 NHL Draft.

“I had an incredible experience this season thanks to so many different people. Thanks to my teammates, the ZSC Lions organization, the City of Zurich, friends and family for all of their help & support,” Matthews said via Twitter.

But it wasn’t without leaving an impact, first.

“He was the best player for Zurich in the first two games of the series,” Future Considerations scout Dennis Schellenber said. “He did not get intimidated, although the opponents played him hard. He did create a lot of scoring chances and was dominating in his shifts, but did not score on many good scoring chances. The last two contests have been very frustrating and Matthews did not really play too well. However, the whole team struggled and was nervous, so was Matthews, had some unsuccessful passes and giveaways.

“Still, he has been one of the series’ best players and he impressed me with his play as I honestly would have thought that he does not so well in the post-season.”

Matthews ended the regular season tied for fourth in the league in goals with 24 and points per game at 1.28, and second in even-strength goals with 19 in 36 games. He had three assists, a plus-1 rating and 13 shots on goal in four playoff games against Bern.

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.

The 2016 IIHF World Championship will be held May 6-22 in Russia. Matthews, an American who represented the United States at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship, could again suit up for his country.

“Matthews is a lock for the Worlds, especially as he is used to the bigger ice surface,” Schellenber said. “And if USA Hockey is continuing playing young kids at the World Championship then surely Matthews will play there. I’m excited to see him play against men at International level.”