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Auston Matthews to start as third-line center

Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock says play of top pick in 2016 NHL Draft will determine 'where it goes from there'

NHL.com @NHL

Auston Matthews will start his NHL career as the third-line center for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

"He determines where it goes from there," coach Mike Babcock said Wednesday when asked where the No. 1 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft would play. 

Babcock is coaching Team Canada at the World Cup of Hockey 2016 in Toronto, but next week he'll return to his regular job with the Maple Leafs. Matthews was impressive while playing with Team North America at the World Cup, but Babcock doesn't want to put too much pressure, too soon, on the 18-year-old.

"He's a good young player," Babcock said. "But we feel he's an important player for us, and over time he has a chance to be a dominant player in the National Hockey League."

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