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World Championship

Draft: Matthews impresses last Toronto No. 1 pick

Wendel Clark likes what he sees in projected first selection

by @nhl

Auston Matthews, expected to be chosen by the Toronto Maple Leafs with the first pick of the 2016 NHL Draft, has made a positive impression on the last player taken No. 1 by the Maple Leafs.

Wendel Clark, selected by Toronto with the first pick of the 1985 draft, said on "Leafs Lunch" on TSN 1050 Toronto he has liked what Matthews has done this season, especially in the 2016 IIHF World Championship, being played in St. Petersburg, Russia and Moscow.

"I've seen the highlights and he looks pretty good," Clark said. "He's already a strong player. It's neat to see him at the [2016 IIHF] World Championship because he's playing against men. It's not the World Junior Championship or a junior team where half the team is 17 and under."

Matthews has three goals and six points in seven games for the United States at the World Championship.

The United States will play the Czech Republic in the quarterfinal round at Ice Palace in Moscow on Thursday (9:15 a.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN).

"He's playing against men and holding guys off, cycling the puck with strength," Clark said. "He shoots the puck like a big guy already. Those are all great things in players."

Matthews, a 6-foot-1, 210-pound center from Scottsdale, Ariz., is No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of international skaters for the 2016 draft. He had 46 points (24 goals, 22 assists) in 36 games with Zurich in National League A, Switzerland's top professional league, and was runner-up for the league's most valuable player award.

He also helped the U.S. win the bronze medal at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship. He tied for the tournament lead with seven goals in seven games and tied for the U.S. lead with 11 points.

Clark played 13 of his 15 NHL seasons with Maple Leafs and was captain from 1991-94.

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