Auston Matthews to make his preseason debut for Maple Leafs


Hockey fans in Toronto have already had a chance to see Auston Matthews on the ice during the recent World Cup of Hockey.

Now they are finally going to get a chance to see him in the uniform they really want to see him in: The Maple Leafs.

Matthews, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NHL draft, is expected to make his preseason debut for the team on Sunday night when they host their long-time rivals, the Montreal Canadiens. He is expected to open on Sunday playing on a line with William Nylander, the No. 8 overall pick in 2014, and Zach Hyman.

He was originally expected to make his preseason debut on Friday night against the Buffalo Sabres but did not travel with the team.

Before being drafted by Toronto, Matthews spent the 2015-16 season playing in Switzerland for Zurich SC, scoring 24 goals and 22 assists in only 36 games. During the World Cup of Hockey playing for Team North America he had two goals and an assist in three games.

The Maple Leafs have committed to a complete rebuild of the organization and have collected a strong core of young prospects to build around, including Nylander, Mitch Marner, Kasperi Kapanen and Morgan Rielly. Matthews, though, could be the best of the bunch and should be one of the cornerstone pieces of the rebuild.

The Maple Leafs, owners of the NHL’s worst record in 2015-16, won the draft lottery and the opportunity to select Matthews with the top pick.