‘Extraordinary prospect’ Matthews tops final draft rankings

AP
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There’s no shortage of talent available at the 2016 NHL Entry Draft but, according to Central Scouting, one prospect stands out from the rest.

“Auston Matthews is an extraordinary prospect with NHL size, speed and smarts combined with an exceptional work ethic and a relentless compete level,” said Dan Marr of Central Scouting, who on Tuesday named Matthews the top draft-eligible skater for the draft. “The other players in the mix for the top five selections have all improved their stock, but Matthews is our clear choice as the top prospect available.”

The news comes as little surprise. Matthews, who had 46 points in 36 games playing professionally in Switzerland this season, has long been considered the cream of this draft class. The Arizona native will almost assuredly become the first U.S.-born player to go first overall since Chicago took Patrick Kane in 2007.

After Matthews, the dynamic Finnish duo of Patrick Laine and Jesse Puljujarvi went Nos. 2 and 3 on the Central Scouting list. Laine is currently plying his trade with Tappara of the Finnish League, while Puljujarvi skated with Karpat. The two were the driving forces behind Finland’s gold medal-winning team at the 2016 World Juniors.

As for other rankings of significance:

Top Five North American Skaters
(Note: Matthews is listed among European skaters because he played in Switzerland)

  1. Pierre-Luc Dubois, QMJHL Cape Breton
  2. Matthew Tkachuk, OHL London
  3. Alexander Nylander, OHL Mississauga
  4. Jakob Chychrun, OHL Sarnia
  5. Olli Juolevi, OHL London

Top Five European Skaters

  1. Matthews
  2. Laine
  3. Puljujarvi
  4. Rasmus Asplund, SHL Farjestad
  5. German Rubstov, Russia

Related: Matthews first played named to USA’s World Championships roster