As a kid, every year Auston Matthews wanted the new EA Sports NHL video game for Christmas.
This time around, the Toronto Maple Leafs forward will be on the cover.
On Wednesday at the NHL Awards presented by Bridgestone in Las Vegas, Matthews was announced as the cover athlete for EA Sports NHL '20.
"I love it," Matthews said. "I always knew the new game was going to be waiting under my Christmas tree and fast forward, now I'm on it... It's a huge honor for me to be on the cover of this year's game and I couldn't be more excited."
Matthews became the third American-born player to appear on the cover, and the first since Patrick Kane was featured in NHL '10. He became the first Maple Leafs player to be the primary cover athlete since William Nylander graced the cover of the Swedish editon of NHL19.
"There's so many different countries [represented]," Matthews said. "Obviously the NHL does a great job of growing the game. For myself it's just a huge honor. When you look at past covers, just to be in that same kind of position as these guys were. There's so many young players coming up. The League's evolving, and it's pretty awesome to be a part of that."
Video: EA Sports unveils first trailer for NHL 20
The video game will be released worldwide Sept. 13. Matthews follows Nashville Predators defenseman P.K. Subban, the NHL '19 cover athlete who helped make the announcement.
"I played it a bit yesterday with P.K. I kicked his butt," Matthews said. "They got some new stuff this year that I think fans of the game are going to enjoy, stuff that hasn't been there in the past, so I think that's going to be pretty amazing."
Matthews, the top pick at the 2016 NHL Draft, has scored 30-plus goals in each of his first three seasons and had a career-high 73 points in 68 games in 2018-19. He helped the Maple Leafs reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the third straight season.
He said he was approached to appear on the cover during the season and couldn't say no.
"I think it's kind of a no-brainer," he said.
Matthews grew up playing the game and is still an avid gamer.
"I've always played video games. I still play video games; I still play NHL," Matthews said. "I have a lot of great memories."
NHL.com Staff Writer Cristina Ledra contributed to this report.