While the lead up to the 2015 NHL Entry Draft has been dominated by stories about Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel, the 2016 draft discussion could be primarily about Auston Matthews. Well before the 2016 draft talk really starts to heat up though, Matthews might make headlines for a different reason.
Although Matthews is being pursued by the WHL Everett Silvertips and several NCAA schools, he’s also considering offers from the Swiss League, according to family advisors Pat Brisson and Judd Moldave.
“It should be resolved in a short matter of time,” Brisson told The Hockey News.
Matthews would be entering uncharted territory for a highly regarded North American prospect if he decides to spend his draft year in Europe. However, there would certainly be advantages to him if he decides to go that route.
One of the most obvious is that it would provide him with an opportunity to play against men, given that in North America his options would be limited to the Major Junior and NCAA as opposed to the AHL. Keep in mind that Matthews, 17, only missed the cutoff for the 2015 draft by two days and has been compared favorable to Eichel.
Playing in Switzerland in particular might be desirable because the teams are so close to each other that it’s not uncommon for players to be able to participate in a road game and still sleep in their own bed that same night. Matthews already has some experience playing there too as a member of Team USA in the world under-18 tournament.
That being said, fielding offers from Swiss teams isn’t the same as pulling the trigger. Matthews might still end up going with one of the many North American options available to him.