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NHL Draft

Matthews gearing up for playoff run

Top 2016 NHL Draft prospect among Swiss league scoring leaders

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / 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. 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 European skaters eligible for the 2016 NHL Draft, had a successful start to a busy week Sunday when he had a goal and two assists to help Zurich to a 5-2 win against Bern.

Matthews is second in National League A, Switzerland's top professional league, with 24 goals. He's fourth in the league with a 1.24 point-per-game average with 41 points in 33 games. He also has a 19.83 shooting percentage and a plus-13 rating. 

The left-shot center has points in 12 of his past 13 games, with 12 goals and 21 points during that stretch. 

Zurich closes the regular season with games against SCL on Tuesday, and a back-to-back set against Davos on Friday and Saturday. Zurich is guaranteed to finish first or second in the league and will open a best-of-7 playoff series at home against either the No. 7 or No. 8 seed. Zurich leads Geneve-Servette by six points for the top seed. 

"Matthews is the best prospect available for the 2016 draft," said Dan Marr, NHL Director of Central Scouting. "I don't believe his play and success this season has surprised NHL scouts, yet it remained to be seen if he would be able to meet the expectations. And to date he has shown the hockey world what he is all about. 

"For an 18-year-old to immediately step into a professional league and lead a team is extraordinary." 

Matthews could be the first American-born player selected No. 1 since Patrick Kane by the Chicago Blackhawks in 2007.

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