Kris Baker of SabresProspects.com has submitted his rankings of the Top 30 draft-eligible prospects of 2016. Check back each day as we prepare for the 2016 NHL Draft, which will be held at First Niagara Center here in Buffalo on June 24 and 25.
#1. Auston Matthews – C, ZSC Lions (Switzerland)
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A superior blend of skill, finesse and intensity, Matthews has been the consensus top pick in his draft class for the past four years, and there isn’t a reason to change the projection following a 24-goal, 46-point campaign in 36 games as an 18-year-old professional rookie with the ZSC Lions of Switzerland’s top professional league.
At the close of the season, Matthews finished second in voting for the league’s Most Valuable Player.
A native of Scottsdale, Ariz., Matthews has rightfully earned accolades for his well-rounded skill set featuring quick hands and feet and an equally robust mind for the game. Matthews adds to the uniquely talented package by executing as a legitimate two-way force down the middle of the ice.
Matthews is such a brilliant talent going both ways that he should not only contend for the major offensive awards during his NHL career, but also the Selke Trophy as the League’s best defensive forward.
Simply put, Matthews is dynamic in every sense of the word. He again showed that while wearing his familiar Team USA colors at the season-ending IIHF World Championship. He notched six goals and nine points in the 10-game affair.
Elite franchise centermen don’t grow on trees. While others near the top of the class have put together solid cases to challenge, Matthews complete game and overflowing set of skills makes him the easy choice to remain at the top and be the first name called come Friday.
For more on all the youngsters in the Sabres pipeline and an updated organizational depth chart, check out Kris Baker’s website, SabresProspects.com. You can also follow him on Twitter (@SabresProspects).