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Auston Matthews could make Maple Leafs debut

No. 1 pick expected to play first preseason game against Sabres on Friday

NHL.com @NHL

Center Auston Matthews, the No. 1 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, is expected to make his NHL debut for the Toronto Maple Leafs in a preseason game against the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center on Friday.

If he plays, Matthews' debut will come at the arena where he was drafted in June.

"It's always fun to go out there and play," Matthews said after practice Thursday. "Whenever they're going to put me in the lineup, I'll be ready to go."

Matthews, 19, participated in his first training camp practice with Toronto on Wednesday and shattered a pane of glass with one of his shots.

"It's all about hockey here," Matthews said. "I broke a pane of glass [Wednesday] and it was headline news for some reason. It's fun. It's nice to kind of have that luxury of everyone talking about hockey."

Video: Auston Matthews shatters glass in 1st day of practice

Matthews played for Team North America at the World Cup of Hockey 2016. He scored two goals and had an assist in three games. Team North America did not advance past the preliminary round.

"I think that was a really good challenge for me going [into the World Cup]," Matthews said Wednesday. "My mindset the whole time was just getting better and learning as much as I could. Going into it, I knew I could play at that level. I think the way I played and everything, going into the season here and training camp and preseason, gives me a lot of confidence."

Maple Leafs center James van Riemsdyk knows about high expectations. He was the No. 2 pick in the 2007 NHL Draft by the Philadelphia Flyers.

"I think just the way he carries himself, he seems beyond his years," van Riemsdyk said of Matthews. "He seems very poised on and off the ice. We're looking forward to having him on the team."

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