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NHL Draft

NHL.com's top 10 centers eligible for 2016 NHL Draft

Matthews, Brown, Jost, Keller among best players at position

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

Center Auston Matthews could become the first United States-born player selected with the first pick of the NHL Draft in nine years when the 2016 draft is held at First Niagara Center in Buffalo on June 24-25.

Matthews (6-foot-2, 216 pounds), who played for Zurich in National League A, Switzerland's top professional league, is No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of international skaters.

The left-shot forward tied for fourth in the league with 24 goals and was 10th with 46 points in 36 games. He also had a plus-16 rating, 129 shots on goal and an 18.6 shooting percentage. He was second in voting for the league's most valuable player award and won the Rising Star award.

Matthews missed 10 games for Zurich, six because of an upper-body injury and four while playing for the United States at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship in Finland, where he tied for the tournament lead with seven goals and helped the U.S. win the bronze medal.

The last American player to be selected No. 1 was Patrick Kane by the Chicago Blackhawks in 2007. 

Here are NHL.com's top 10 centers eligible for the 2016 NHL Draft:

1. Auston Matthews, Zurich (SUI): The native of Scottsdale, Ariz., also excelled on the international stage. He led the U.S. with six goals and tied for the team lead with nine points in 10 games at the 2016 IIHF World Championship. He'll next play for Team North America at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey in September.

Video: Get to know top prospect Auston Matthews

2. Logan Brown, Windsor (OHL): A playmaking center with excellent size and presence down the middle, Brown (6-6, 220) had 21 goals and 74 points in 59 regular-season games. He had 29 power-play points and won 53.0 percent of his faceoffs.

3. Tyson Jost, Penticton (BCHL): The 5-11, 190-pound left-shot forward was named the most valuable player in the British Columbia Hockey League after finishing with league-high totals of 62 assists and 2.17 points per game in 48 games. He was third in the BCHL with 104 points and fifth with 42 goals. He is committed to the University of North Dakota for the 2016-17 season; Everett of the Western Hockey League holds his Canadian Hockey League rights. 

4. Clayton Keller, USA U-18 (USHL): The 5-10, 164-pound left-shot forward led USA Hockey's National Team Development Program under-18 team with 70 assists, 107 points and four shorthanded goals in 62 games. Keller, who is committed to Boston University for 2016-17, said he models his game after NTDP alum Patrick Kane. He has good playmaking ability and a scoring touch.

5. Michael McLeod, Mississauga (OHL): Considered one of the fastest skaters in the 2016 draft class, McLeod (6-2, 185) had 21 goals and 61 points in 57 regular-season games. Capable and consistent in all situations, McLeod had six power-play goals and he won 58.0 percent of his faceoffs, sixth among OHL forwards to take at least 1,000 faceoffs.

6. Rasmus Asplund, Farjestad (SWE): The Sweden-born left-shot forward, No. 4 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of international skaters, has a fantastic compete level and smarts with the puck. Asplund (5-10, 176) is a leader on and off the ice. He had four goals and 12 points in 46 games for Farjestad in the Swedish Hockey League, and three goals and five points in seven games for Sweden at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship.

7. Luke Kunin, University of Wisconsin (BIG10): The right-shot forward is capable of creating offense each shift. Kunin (5-11, 193), named to the Big Ten Conference All-Freshman team, led the Badgers with 19 goals and 127 shots on goal. He also had 32 points and five power-play goals in 34 games.

8. German Rubtsov, Russia U-18 (RUS-JR): A hard-working skater and competitor, Rubtsov (6-0, 178) could be the first Russian-born center picked. He plays an honest, two-way game, is skilled and is strong in traffic. He had 12 goals, 26 points, a plus-12 rating and 78 shots on goal in 28 regular-season games. Rubtsov makes good decisions with the puck, is an effective penalty-killer, and is willing to battle and pay the price for a goal.

9. Tage Thompson, University of Connecticut (H-EAST): The 6-5, 195-pound right-shot forward began the season on the fourth line but worked his way into top-line minutes this season. He led the NCAA with 13 power-play goals, and had 14 goals and 32 points in 36 games. He's tough to knock off the puck, good at protecting it and getting to the net.

10. Henrik Borgstrom, HIFK JR (FIN-JR): The left-shot forward had 29 goals and 55 points in 40 games with HIFK in the Finnish junior league this season and is No. 9 on Central Scouting's final ranking of international skaters. Borgstrom (6-3, 176) is committed to the University of Denver in 2016-17. He is a great playmaker with good puck skills. NHL Director of European Scouting Goran Stubb called Borgstrom a "crowd pleaser."

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