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(Report) Top 2016 NHL draft prospect MAY sign with ZSC Lions.

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An exceptional prospect needs exceptional measures. Auston Matthews, truthfully, would just be marking time next season until he comes of age for the NHL draft, so he might as well make a decent dollar while he is doing it.

The 17-year-old who's too young by two days to drafted this summer, might be inclined to choose Door No. 3 instead of the first two labelled "college" or "Everett Silvertips." Switzerland's Blick News Service, among others, reported on Sunday that Matthews, the most valuable player at last month's world under-18 championship and a member of this season's U.S. national junior team, has signed to play in the Swiss A league with the Zurich Lions, where the coach is former Stanley Cup champion Marc Crawford.

There are conflicting reports. Matthews was supposed to decide between Everett or the NCAA at some point this month.

Taken in context, it's not surprising that Zurich materialized as a viable option. The world under-18s were in Switzerland, which made scouting Matthews very convenient for Crawford and compatriot Rob Cookson. In Europe, of course, no one bats an eye at a teenager playing in a men's league.

The past few years have also seen a trickle of prospects drafted by NHL teams while playing in the Canadian Hockey League go pro early. The Dallas Stars were able to place 18-year-old Julius Honka in the AHL last season rather than return him to junior since the Swift Current Broncos only had him on loan from his organization in Finland. Likewise, the San Jose Sharks assigned Niklay Goldobin to HIFK Helsinki, then called him to the AHL. The CHL/NHL agreement takes that flexibility off the table with most North American-developed prospects, since a player who was in the CHL at the time he was drafted is ineligible for full-time AHL play until age 20. It's protectionism, but it has its pluses.

Playing in Switzerland would allow Matthews to circumvent that agreement, and advance while playing against men. (As an added bonus, Team USA would have an ace forward who's spent the entire season in big international ice going into a world junior championship that will be in Helsinki.)

As Jeff Veillette points out:

... Isnt a prospect of this pedigree better suited to playing against adults? Bigger, stronger, wiser opponents who have spent more time playing against bigger, stronger, and wiser opponents? In many respects, it makes the transition to the North American Pro game a lot easier; Leafs prospect William Nylander was a great example of that this year, spending half the year in the Swedish Hockey League, slowly getting better, before coming into the AHL and finding his groove within his first ten games. By playing on Europes big ice, Matthews can also work on his stamina and maintaining his speed, which can add an element to his already dynamic skating ability. (The Faceoff Circle)
Matthews was in the same boat as other U.S. national team development program graduates who did go on to major junior, such as Seth Jones (Portland, 2012-13) and Patrick Kane (London, 2007-08). Each had post-Sept. 15 birthdays that forced them to wait an extra year before they were drafted. Each was likely to go directly to The Show regardless of whether he played one season of college or junior. The latter won out each case.

If this comes to pass, credit Matthews his adviser, Pat Brisson (whom if memory serves, also represented Jones) for being creative. There's less travel and more time in between games in Switzerland than there is in the WHL. Matthews also more than held his own when the U.S. under-18 team played NCAA teams, so it's entirely possible he might not need college hockey.

The WHL and CHL stand to lose out on a player on who would undoubtedly boost their profile and number of first-rounders in 2016. However, as a self-proclaimed developmental league, it's supposed to guide players through the whole process of maturity, not just reap the reward of what was really harvested by the Ann Arbor, Mich-based NTDP.

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The Canucks could very well miss the playoffs next year, and be in the running for the first overall pick due to the emergence of many good teams in the west.

I am not advocating that the Canucks tank; no, very much the contrary. However this organization is in dire need of a future star offensive center (and a #1 dman).

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Please take some more care with your thread titles. He hasn't signed anywhere yet.

It says report. Google Auston Matthews and it will say Report on both sportsnet and Yahoo. I provided multiple links and evidence. This is a unfair response as I have already said I will update as more information becomes available.


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