Auston Matthews, the projected No. 1 pick of the 2016 NHL Draft, made believers out of Team North America co-general managers Peter Chiarelli and Stan Bowman.
Matthews was one of seven players added to the Team North America roster for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey on Friday. He is No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of international skaters for the draft, which will be held at First Niagara Center in Buffalo on June 24-25.
The 6-foot-1, 210-pound native of Scottsdale, Ariz., could be the first American-born player to be the first pick of the draft since the Chicago Blackhawks selected Patrick Kane with the first pick of the 2007 draft.
Also named to Team North America were forwards Jonathan Drouin (Tampa Bay Lightning), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Edmonton Oilers) and Mark Scheifele (Winnipeg Jets), and defensemen Shayne Gostisbehere (Philadelphia Flyers), Colton Parayko (St. Louis Blues) and Jacob Trouba (Winnipeg Jets).
Matthews, 18, will be the youngest player on the roster. He led the United States with six goals at the 2016 IIHF World Championship and tied Dylan Larkin (Detroit Red Wings) for the lead with nine points. Larkin was one of the first 16 players named to Team North America on March 2.
Matthews also played against older, more experienced competition this season with Zurich in National League A, the top professional league in Switzerland. He won the Rising Star award and finished second in voting for the league's most valuable player award.
Drouin played a big part in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the Lightning, with five goals and nine assists in 17 games, including a goal in the Lightning's 2-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final on Thursday.
An invitation to the World Cup of Hockey was something few could have envisioned for Drouin earlier this season. The Lightning sent him to Syracuse of the American Hockey League on Jan. 2, and the next day he requested to be traded. When that didn't happen, he left Syracuse and was suspended without pay Jan. 20. He returned to Syracuse on March 7 and was recalled by the Lightning on April 7 to add to an offense that had lost captain Steven Stamkos to surgery to remove a blood clot near his right collarbone.
Nugent-Hopkins has reached 50 points three times in five seasons, and has played 313 games while only 23.
Scheifele, who can play right wing and center, had his best NHL season in 2015-16 with 61 points (29 goals, 32 assists).
Gostisbehere had 46 points (17 goals, 29 assists) in 64 games this season, and set an NHL rookie defenseman record with a 15-game point streak. He's also a finalist for the Calder Memorial Trophy as NHL rookie of the year.
Trouba played 81 games this season and had six goals, 15 assists, 144 hits and 177 blocked shots while averaging 22:03 of ice time per game.
Parayko, a 23-year-old rookie, had nine goals, 24 assists, 102 hits and 122 blocked shots in 79 games.
Team North America is a new concept in international hockey. It features the best players age 23 years and younger as of Oct. 1 from Canada and the United States.
The 2016 World Cup of Hockey will be played Sept. 17 to Oct. 1 at Air Canada Centre in Toronto. All games will be televised by ESPN in the United States and Sportsnet and TVA Sports in Canada.
Here is the entire Team North America roster (alphabetically by position):
Sean Couturier, Philadelphia Flyers; Jonathan Drouin, Tampa Bay Lightning; Jack Eichel, Buffalo Sabres; Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames; Dylan Larkin, Detroit Red Wings; Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche; Auston Matthews, Zurich (SUI); Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers; J.T. Miller, New York Rangers; Sean Monahan, Calgary Flames; Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Edmonton Oilers; Brandon Saad, Columbus Blue Jackets; Mark Scheifele, Winnipeg Jets
Aaron Ekblad, Florida Panthers; Shayne Gostisbehere, Philadelphia Flyers; Seth Jones, Columbus Blue Jackets; Ryan Murray, Columbus Blue Jackets; Colton Parayko, St. Louis Blues; Morgan Rielly, Toronto Maple Leafs; Jacob Trouba, Winnipeg Jets
John Gibson, Anaheim Ducks; Connor Hellebuyck, Winnipeg Jets; Matt Murray, Pittsburgh Penguins