Auston Matthews (Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
Auston Matthews could still be heading to Europe in 2015-16. Matthews was having an issue landing a work permit in Switzerland, but, according to a report, may be drawing interest from a club in Germany.
Auston Matthews is, at this moment, the top prospect for the 2016 draft, but the 17-year-old potential 2016 first overall draft pick hasn’t yet decided where he’ll play for the upcoming campaign.
According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, Matthews, who reportedly has a deal on the table with Switzerland’s Zurich Lions, may be drawing interest from elsewhere, including German club EHC Red Bull Munich. The possibility of Matthews heading to the Europe has been around for quite some time and his agent, Pat Brisson, had previously told THN’s Ryan Kennedy that Matthews was, “processing every option.”
His plan to sign with Zurich reportedly hit a snag in late June, when a Swiss news outlet reported Matthews, an Arizona native, had not yet received his work permit for the upcoming season, putting his ability to play with the Lions next season in question. The issue in Switzerland was that Matthews had yet to play a year of professional hockey, which potentially makes him ineligible to qualify for the work visa. In Zurich, Matthews would have played under former NHL bench boss Marc Crawford.
Getting offers from elsewhere, like a potential deal in the DEL with Munich, gives Matthews other options. If he's interested in playing against men in Europe, he's likely to receive some interest from clubs elsewhere overseas. The issue for Matthews now, however, is that the Swiss NLA provides some of the top European competition and heading to a league where the competition is lesser could potentially hurt his draft stock. That said, playing against grown men in a professional league of any kind would give scouts an understanding of what Matthews can bring to the table when he comes to the NHL.
If a deal isn’t reached overseas, Matthews could head to the WHL’s Everett Silvertips, the club that owns his major junior rights, if he chooses to explore that route. The Silvertips drafted Matthews in the third round, 57th overall, of the 2012 bantam draft.
This past season, Matthews broke Patrick Kane’s longstanding U.S. National Team Development Program record by notching 55 goals and 116 points in 60 games with the U18 club. He also added one goal and three points in five games at the World Junior Championship, as well as seven goals and 15 points at the World Under-18 Championship.
Matthews had a brief stint with the U.S. World Championship team, skating in an exhibition game with the club. Matthews did not, however, make the team.