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Matthews continues improvement in Switzerland

by Mike G. Morreale / NHL.com

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. NHL.com will follow his journey leading to the NHL Draft this season with a weekly update.

Another big test for center Auston Matthews came Friday on home ice when Zurich played against defending Swiss champion HC Davos in a National League A division regular-season game.

AUSTON MATTHEWS, Center
Zurich, Switzerland
GP G A Pts Shots PIM +/-
8 6 2 8 36 0 0

Matthews, an A-rated skater on NHL Central Scouting's September players to watch list, showcased his talent throughout with two goals for the Lions. He snapped a 2-2 tie on a power-play goal 3:32 into the third period. Zurich (7-3-2), third in the National League A with 22 points, won 3-2.

On his second goal, Matthews redirected a shot past the opposing goalie from the side of the net. He also committed a turnover that pulled HC Davos into a 2-2 tie 10:27 into the second.

Thomas Roost, who evaluates talent in Switzerland and Germany for NHL Central Scouting, has been providing NHL.com with exclusive updates on Matthews during the season. He continues to be impressed.

"Matthews was the best player against HC Davos, not only in his team but on the ice," Roost said. "Everything looks so easy when he has the puck. He knows when to accelerate and when to slow down. He knows when to pass and when to shoot; he scored with a beauty of a wrist shot and another on a smart deflection against HC Davos. He created half a dozen first-class scoring chances for his linemates but they didn't score."

Where can he improve?

"Maybe in the faceoff circle and with certain shooting techniques, although I already really like his wris shot," Roost said. "He already looks powerful, especially when he has the puck. He's hard to knock off. His vision and playmaking were once again off the charts."

Matthews was held off the score sheet in a 3-2 overtime victory over HC Lugano on Saturday, but Roost was pleased with his play, nonetheless.

Roost did have an interesting assessment following the game Saturday, when Matthews was limited to one shot on goal but did create plenty of opportunities with his strength and speed.

"He has six goals and two assists this season but those statistics are misleading because he could easily have many more assists," Roost said. "I think by the end of the season, he will have more assists than goals, because he's an excellent setup man."

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