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Top prospect Matthews ready for playoffs

2016 Draft star finished Swiss season fourth in goals

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

Auston Matthews, who many project to be the No. 1 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, is playing for Zurich in Switzerland's top professional league this season. NHL.com will follow his journey leading to the NHL Draft this season with a weekly update.

Auston Matthews, No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting's midterm ranking of international skaters eligible for the 2016 NHL Draft, hopes his regular-season success with Zurich in National League A, Switzerland's top professional league, carries over to the playoffs, which start Thursday.

Zurich finished first in National League A with 98 points and will open a best-of-7 series against Bern at home. The teams will alternate venues each game until one team wins four times. Game 2 is at Bern on Saturday and Game 3 is at Zurich on March 8.

Zurich has won the league championship three times since 2008. It won the 2014 championship but last season lost to Davos in five games in the championship round.

Matthews, a 6-foot-1, 210-pound left-handed center, finished tied for fourth in the league with 24 goals and a 1.28 points-per-game average in 36 regular-season games. He was 10th with 46 points; former NHL player Pierre-Marc Bouchard led the league with 67 points but played 13 more games than Matthews. Matthews missed six games this season with an upper-body injury and four games playing for the United States at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship. At the WJC he tied for the tournament lead with seven goals and helped the U.S. win the bronze medal.

Matthews also had a plus-16 rating, an 18.6 shooting percentage and 129 shots on goal.

He finished the regular season with a four-game point streak; he had one goal, eight points and a plus-6 rating during that stretch.

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