Potential 1st overall pick in the 2016 NHL draft, Auston Matthews, has decided to play the 2015-2016 season professionally in Switzerland. The Scottsdale, AZ native will play in Switzerland’s top professional league for the ZSC Lions, who are coached by Stanley Cup winning coach, Marc Crawford.
In the 2014-2015 season Matthews played for the United States Development Team where he scored 55 goals and 61 assists for 116 in 60 games. Matthews has nothing left to prove playing for the US Development Team and was looking for greater competition. Matthews’ CHL (Canadian Hockey League) rights are owed by the Everett Silvertips.
Matthews decided that going to Switzerland and playing against men was going to be better for his development than playing for the Silvertips and against kids his age. The Swiss league is filled with former NHL players and you cannot argue with Matthews thinking.
Matthews was in a unique situation and I do not think this is going to turn into the norm for American or Canadian kids going over to Europe before they are NHL Draft eligible. Matthews is very talented and this time next year he will be getting ready for his first NHL Training Camp. Going to Switzerland gives him the best chance of making it to the NHL next year.
Matthews missed being eligible for this year’s NHL Draft by 3 days, his birthday is September 17th. Scouts think he could have been the 3rd overall pick after Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel
Matthews decision was the best one for him and I give him a lot of credit for going against the hockey norm and doing what is best for him. Also I think it is great that he snubbed the CHL (see previous post regarding the CHL).