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NHL Draft

Top 2016 Draft prospect to play for U.S.

Auston Matthews, expected to be first pick in June, named to World Championship team

NHL.com @NHL

Auston Matthews, expected to be the first pick of the 2016 NHL Draft, will play for the United States at the 2016 IIHF World Championship, USA Hockey announced Thursday.

Matthews, 18, is the first player named to the team for the tournament, which will be played May 6-22 in Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia.

A 6-foot-1, 210-pound center, Matthews is No. 1 in NHL Central Scouting's midterm ranking of international skaters.

Matthews, a native of Scottsdale, Ariz., spent this season with Zurich in National League A, Switzerland's top professional league. In 36 games he had 24 goals and 46 points, and finished second in voting for league MVP.

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; his goal total was one shy of Jeremy Roenick's U.S. record of eight goals at the 1989 WJC. He also tied for the U.S. lead with 11 points and was named to the tournament all-star team.

Last year Matthews played in an exhibition game with the U.S. prior to the 2015 World Championship, becoming the first player to skate for the U.S. at that level prior to entering their NHL draft-eligible season. The U.S. went on to win the bronze medal.

USA Hockey said it will name other players, as well as a coach and general manager, at a later date. Making those decisions is the U.S. Men's National Team Advisory Group, led by Jim Johannson, assistant executive director of hockey operations for USA Hockey. Other members include Stan Bowman (Chicago Blackhawks), Dean Lombardi (Los Angeles Kings), David Poile (Nashville Predators), Ray Shero (New Jersey Devils), Dale Tallon (Florida Panthers) and Don Waddell (Carolina Hurricanes).

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