We’ve saved the best for last!
Coming in as the number one ranked player in our consensus 2016 NHL Draft Rankings, is Scottsdale, Arizona native Auston Matthews.
Born two days after the cut-off for the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, Matthews has been the consensus number one draft eligible player for the entire season. There have been some in the hockey world suggesting that Patrik Laine could go first overall, but it’s clear that Matthews is the most complete and well-rounded prospect available and will likely go first overall.
- Age: 18, 1997-09-17
- Birthplace: Scottsdale, Arizona, United States
- Frame: 6’2″, 216 lbs.
- Position: C/LW
- Handedness: L
- Draft Year Team: Zurich Lions
- Accomplishments/Awards: U20 WJHC Bronze Medal (15/16), U20 WJHC All-Star Team (15/16), U20 WJHC Top 3 Player on Team (15/16), U20 WJHC Most Goals (7) (15/16), NLA Media All-Star Team (15/16), NLA Media Most Improved Player (15/16), IIHF World Championships Top 3 Player on Team (15/16), U18 WHC Gold Medal (14/15), U18 WHC Best Forward (14/15), U18 WHC All-Star Team (14/15), U18 WHC MVP (14/15), U17 WHC Gold Medal (13/14), U18 WHC Gold Medal (13/14)
|pGPS n||pGPS s||pGPS %||pGPS P/GP||pGPS R|
|NHL CSS||ISS||Future Considerations||HockeyProspect||Pronman||McKeen’s||McKenzie||Button|
Born two days past the 2015 NHL Draft deadline, Auston Matthews was unable to challenge Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel for the top spot but he surely would’ve been in the conversation based on his talents. In a rare move, Auston Matthews opted to play his current 2016 draft season in Switzerland with ZSC of the top professional league and he’s established himself as a dangerous offensive threat. Matthews blends imposing size and power with impressive skill to compete as a strong two-way pivot. Possesses terrific hands and strength on the puck as he dominates possession, particularly below the top of the circle. He flashes intelligent vision, good creativity and high-end skating ability which all blend to create an impact forward in all three zones. There are few holes in Matthews game as this toolsy forward possesses all of the attributes that teams seek out in a number one centerman. Deemed NHL-ready, Matthews ability to carry the offence while providing excellent defensive presence makes him a lock to be selected first overall at the upcoming 2016 NHL Enry Draft.
Teams dream about getting a legit No. 1 center like Matthews when picking at the top of the draft. A 6-foot-2, 210-pound pivot with a skill level that is off the charts, he’s also got professional experience to boot, and he’s been making Swiss cheese out of his opponents in the NLA. Matthews is a magician with the puck; not one of those pretend magicians you’ll find in Las Vegas, but like the ones you read about in fiction novels. He is so coordinated and creative that it’s nearly impossible to strip him of the puck. Combining that with an incredible touch that can have him effortlessly saucer pass across the rink onto the blade, or place it on a shot wherever he wants to, and he’s a nightmare for teams to defend. He’s a very good skater, and while he’s not among the very top tier of the class in terms of speed, he can explode down the ice with anyone.Matthews isn’t perfect. His real weakness is when the offense isn’t flowing through him. He’s not a really physical player who will grind for pucks along the wall, nor is he some sort of defensive stalwart. Matthews still uses his big frame to win pucks and competes well on the ice in every zone, but the team drafting him must be realistic about what he’s going to be in terms of the gritty areas of the game.
In an fairly unprecedented move, Matthews decided to head to Switzerland to play for Zurich instead of going the usual route of the WHL or USHL. It seems to have paid off, as he was playing against men and earning a salary and obviously this is why he is the highest ranked European skater.
If Matthews was born three days earlier, the discussion would’ve been who will go second in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, Jack Eichel or Matthews. Some scouts suggest that Matthews would’ve gone second overall behind Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid, while others suggest that Eichel would’ve gone second and Matthews would’ve gone third.
Now the discussion is most centralized around “Will Patrik Laine go first overall before Auston Matthews?”
Quite simply, Laine should go second overall and Matthews will be first overall because he is the best prospect available in this year’s class.
Given that the American plays centre, it is an important part to include when deciding who should go first overall. Matthews plays a 200 foot game that allows him to use all of his skills. He is a very good skater who reads the play very well in all three zones. Although he may not have the same offensive ceiling as some of the other prospects, he makes up for it in the total impact he will make on the game. He just seems to be in the right spot at the right time. He just seems to bury his chances because he was in the right spot.
He may not create exciting plays or chances, but that’s not a bad thing as he uses his timing, location and teammates to his advantage, so that what looks like nothing can turn into something.
Through my own viewings, it always feels like Matthews is doing exactly what he intended to do. He appears to try and limit the variables in a play and make the right play.
— Ryan Biech (@ryanbiech) December 9, 2015
His list of accomplishments are…. something. Consistently a winner, and always a prominent part of the team.
At the WJHC in December/January, he was the highest scoring American with 11 points in 7 games and tied for the most goals in the tournament with 7. The US may not have won the gold medal, which was mostly due to the Finnish first line, but Mathews was a noticeable force throughout the entire tournament.
He did not attend the U18 tournament, but instead represented the US at the World Championships. Although the young US squad finished for 4th, Matthews was again a big part of their teams success finishing with the most points on US with 9 in 10 games.
— Ryan Biech (@ryanbiech) May 21, 2016
Using the trusty pGPS machine, there are no matches for Auston Matthews. That’s because 18 year olds don’t follow Matthews path, thus he has no comparables. Matthews had to sit out the first few games just to be eligible to play in the NLA, so it’s not surprising, nor should take anything away from him, that he has no matches.
Although it’s always good to question and explore different options, it’s clear that Matthews is the best player available at the draft later this week and will likely be donning a Maple Leafs jersey this October.
The only thing left to decide from there, is if Matthews will project into a first line centre or a second line centre. Sounds like a nice problem to have.