Nation Network Prospect Profiles: #1 Auston Matthews

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.

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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.


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  • 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)


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From Brendan Ross, Dobber Prospects:

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.

From Corey Pronman, ESPN:

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.

Our Take:

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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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.


Prospect Profile #2: Patrik Laine (RW) Prospect Profile #3: Jesse Puljujarvi (RW)
Prospect Profile #4: Pierre-Luc Dubois (C/LW) Prospect Profile #5: Matthew Tkachuk (LW)
Prospect Profile #6: Clayton Keller (C) Prospect Profile #7: Mikhail Sergachev  (D)
Prospect Profile #8: Jakob Chychrun (D) Prospect Profile #9: Olli Juolevi (D)
Prospect Profile #10: Tyson Jost (C) Prospect Profile #11: Alexander Nylander (LW/RW)
Prospect Profile #12: Jake Bean (D) Prospect Profile #13: Kieffer Bellows (C/LW)
Prospect Profile #14: Michael McLeod (C) Prospect Profile #15: Logan Brown (C)
Prospect Profile #16: Julien Gauthier (RW) Prospect Profile #17: Dante Fabbro (D)
Prospect Profile #18: Charlie McAvoy (D) Prospect Profiles #19: Luke Kunin (C)
Prospect Profile #20: Alex Debrincat (C/LW) Prospect Profiles #21: Vitali Abramov (RW)
Prospect Profile #22: Max Jones (W/C) Prospect Profiles #23: Pascal Laberge (C/LW)
Prospect Profile #24: Tage Thompson (C/RW) Prospect Profile #25: German Rubtsov (C)
Prospect Profile #26: Samuel Girard (D) Prospect Profile #27: Rasmus Asplund (C/LW)
Prospect Profile #28: Will Bitten (C) Prospect Profile #29: Tyler Benson (LW)
Prospect Profile #30: Carl Grundstrom (LW) Prospect Profiles #60 – #31 (2nd Round)

  • JuiceBox

    Small typo

    “Some scouts suggest that Matthews would’ve gone second overall behind Edmonton Oilers forward Auston Matthews.”

    “Behind Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid.”

    Otherwise, excellent work on the entire prospect series guys, well done.

  • Hockey Warrior

    Greetings Canuckleheads

    As the Auston Matthews number one pick has no relevance to the Canucks whatsoever (already a done deal for Toronto along with Stammer IF he ‘bolts’ from Tampa) I can exclusively reveal the Canucks will NOT be making a big splash on draft day in Buffalo with NO bargaining power whatsoever and Trader Jim already ironing the THACHUK letters onto a COMETS sweater as we speak.

    Indeed, look for THE SABRES and LAFFS to make the biggest waves and, much as Vancouver plastics will be choking on their cheerios over this, it’s hats off to LOU LAMORELLO in already signing a top number one goaltender for peanuts that the Canucks SHOULD’VE been in for. Kudos also for another class act, GM DALE TALLON in FLA, for acquiring the rights to UFA behemoth KEITH YANDLE who also should’ve been private jetted (ala Messier) to Van City.

    Yes friends, don’t book a day off from jobsearch, updating monster jobs or Wreck Beach on Friday – NOTHING too see here I’m afraid, unless you are a regular at Leafs Nation…

    • Hockey Warrior

      On message boards often dominated by NMOO’s delusions and Alberta trolls, you my friend take the award for the craziest. I’m not sure what is more amusing, the thought that Benning would hand a draft pick a jersey with a misspelled last name (I do like that) or the idea that we should have traded our 2nd this year for another goalie (who has average rather than “top” numbers) or the description of Keith Yandle as a “behemoth” (I’ve heard him described as many things but that I’ve never seen before) or that we should for some reason recreate the Messier debacle (what Yandle has to do with Messier I have no idea but maybe you’ve been influenced by all those terrible ads), but this was a sheer joy to read.

      The prospect series was one of the more enjoyable ones on CA of late; I’d agree with a lot of the rankings though I think you’re putting Juolevi and Nylander way too low given both their seasons and their combine performances. One thing I’ve always found fascinating in these prospect profiles (not just yours but what the scouts have to say) is the general tenor of there not being all that many weaknesses (even in the descriptions of some of the late round value picks one would wonder why they would go so late based on the profiles). Just reminds you how much of a total crapshoot so much of drafting is.

    • Neil B

      Lou overpaid on Andersen because (1) he has the picks to do so, and (2) he had to, or Calgary was going to get Andersen. The $5 mill contract with term is a risk, as shot analysis indicates that Andersen is NHL-average or worse in 5 of 8 shooting zones. The zones her is better than league average are stick side, low (aka: outside north-west), red zone (low slot), and centre point. To me, that sounds like a goalie who is weak moving laterally. That could be bad; if the team is weak defensively, poor lateral movement could leave the goalie exposed.

      As this is all coming off one season, with only 37 starts there could easily be a sample size bias in the data. Andrew Berkshire’s side-by-side comparison on Sportsnet shows that Andersen is definitely an upgrade on Bernier (also based on last year’s performance), but it’s debatable whether he is any better than an average NHL goalie (and opens up the door to the possibility that he is below-average).

      Short version: it’s a bit early to crow about this deal. Lou is taking a substantial risk here, giving Andersen the clear-cut starter’s job; and it could quite easily blow up in his face.

      Buffalo will make waves because they’re willing to offer #8 overall for a LD who can play with Rasmus Ristolainen. Probably FLA sends them Kulikov, assuming they think they can sign Yandle before July 1. If Benning was seriously willing to trade #5 for a roster player, which he’s not, then we would make waves, too.

      BTW, Yandle was never coming here, anyways. We need a puck-moving RD. The best available is Shattenkirk, and I don’t think we’re outbidding Boston on him.

  • Dirty30

    Appreciate the opportunity to learn about the Draft Prospects through this series of articles.

    It will be interesting to see how these players actually pan out on their respective teams. They seem to bring a lot of talent and excitement with them, but how that will work with the team they end up with will be telling.

  • Gino's 3rd Cousin

    Reading about Matthews, Laine, and Puljujarvi brings back the pain of the draft lottery as a Canucks fan. Imagine if the old system was still in place. We’d be talking about Puljujarvi.

  • detox

    this discussion reminds me a little of the 1990 draft. six top forward prospects followed by three good d prospects.

    in 1990 one forward and one d was a bust. plus nedved had the skills but was a headcase.

    so hopefully we get jagr at 5th and not scott scissons.

  • Hockey Warrior


    Glad you picked up on the ‘spelling error’, clearly showing you are LISTENING and LEARNING from my superior hockey mind – no offence pal but I think I’ll go with the GM who drafted MARTY BRODEUR and made off like a bandit with CORY SCHNEIDER over some unknown armchair expert bud. Freddie is a top goaiie, easily worth two draft picks and at a salary CHEAPER than Miller! Great move from Louuuuuu

    As for Yandle – yep, would love to have rolled out the red carpet for a PROVEN top pair D who can run a powerplay and mentor the locker room and young D corps. Never mind mediocrity is the key word in Vancouver, we all know that.

    @ NEIL B

    Hahaha – listen up stats nerd, the ONLY stats that matter to me and other elite hockey experts are WINS and LOSSES pal, and Freddie’s are as follows…

    W 20 L 05
    W 35 L 12
    W 22 L 09

    That’s 77 WINS and 26 LOSSES all time which equates to almost a SEVENTY SIX PERCENT win rate! WOW

    Overpaid? A risk? Step away from the bong and koolaid son – clearly you are a disciple of the Cheech and Chong school of hockey.

    Neil, like most here 40 odd years of LOSING have deeply affected you – NO one wants to come here, NO one is good enough to help the team win… it’s all doom and gloom with you bud, but hey, i’m a glass half full kinda guy and i will continue to believe that bold moves and PROVEN players are the key to renewed success for this JINXED franchise… or maybe we should just relocate to Seattle eh?

    • Cageyvet

      Funny that you can say no one wants to come here but your endless fantasy “Hockey Warrior as GM” lineup involves top free agents signing here.

      Step away from the bong indeed, you can then locate the mind you need to make up on this issue.

      • Hockey Warrior

        Oh dear mangeyvet – NO pal, it’s YOU who needs to step away from the sweet leaf kid – and learn to READ. It’s posters like NEIL and YOU (not me) who keep saying “he won’t come here” “he’s too expensive” “he’s not a good fit because he watches Soccer in the off season” bla bla bla.

        What I’ve so diligently and consistently done is SHOW YOU the type of PLAYERS and ROSTER it takes to challenge for a Stanley Cup – you know, winners like NICK BONINO who i recall YOU don;t want on the team, right?…. Hahah keep eating my dust laughing boy and bow to my superior wit and wisdom. Pwned

  • Cageyvet

    Lol. HEY, this is how you POST A COMMENT….you use CAPITAL LETTERS and tell everyone YOU’RE AWESOME.

    Hockey Warrior, the readership keeps telling you that you are the site’s NUMBER ONE MORON.

    I just rattle your cage every now and then for fun. BYE NOW!