When Auston Matthews signed a contract with the Swiss top team ZSC Lions ahead of his draft eligible year, he definitely broke new ground. Because of Swiss laws, he was only eligible to play once turning 18-years-old. He did not waste any time in proving that his move to Switzerland will not hinder him getting picked first overall next June. Matthews scored in his first professional game with ZSC and meanwhile evolved into one of the League’s most prolific scorers. He is still projected as the first overall pick by every pre-draft ranking including the Hockey Prospectus review of WJC draft eligible contestants.
Scouting Report – Auston Matthews
Team: ZSC Lions (Swiss NLA) Draft Status: 2016 eligible
Stats to date: 28 GP, 21 G, 15 A, 36 Pts, 4 PIM
Height/Weight: 6-2”, 194
Although he is listed at 6-2 and 194, he is an agile skater who can move around on the ice without losing speed. He is able to make fast turns and does not get outskated. His skating balance is good which makes it hard for opponents to knock him off the puck with a quiet check. Matthews’ top speed is decent and helps him to start rushes in his own zone through the neutral zone without getting outskated. His first strides are powerful and he hits full speed within 3-4 strides. Although he has a good skating balance and leg strength, he isn’t an extremely explosive skater but can get rid of opponents in the corners with a few quick turns. He doesn’t have the “burner tag” though, but that could also be because of his size which does not allow him to a dancer with the puck.
His shot is one of Matthews’ biggest weapons. His release is lightning quick and his wrister is above average in terms of accuracy and shot power. He is able to beat goaltenders from nearly anywhere in the offensive zone with his canon of a wrist shot. He is strong in evaluating when to take a shot or play a pass and isn’t the type of player who fires the puck whenever possible. Matthews doesn’t really use his slapshot a lot but this is simply because his positioning game allows him to always be in a position where he can use his wrister to greater effect. He likes to use his great wrist shot from the face off point while using defenders as an additional screen. Grade: 70
Auston Matthews is a great puckhandling center who has soft hands and is very good with the puck. He rarely mishandles the puck and is such a calm puck-carrier. He never panics when under pressure and is very effective in traffic. He displays good movement with the puck and is always good for showing a move. He has the puckhandling skills to be very effective in one-against-one situations. With his strong puckmoving skills and soft hands, he is effective with zone entries and plays them in a very smooth and matured way. He is a good face-off player and can be used very well in defensive zone face-offs. Matthews possesses a very accurate and strong pass and is a strong playmaker in combination with his vision. He knows when to play a pass and uses his good pass timing to dish out the puck. Because of all those skills, Matthews is a dangerous weapon on the powerplay, where he is an important part and organizes his team from the half wall. Grade: 70
Auston Matthews’ hockey smarts are through the roof and have franchise player potential. He is way ahead of his age and when scouting him, it is impossible not to see his high Hockey IQ. His understanding of the game is so matured and he seems to always make the right plays/decision with the puck. Matthews vision is above average, he knows what he is going to do with the puck before he even receives the pass. He knows where his line mates are and is able to set up plays very well. He is a very matured player, ahead of his age in terms of calmness and coolness and shows strong patience with the puck. He does not panic nor does he let opponents set pressure on him. Matthews is a very dangerous goal scorer because he possesses a tremendously good nose for the net. He feels extremely confident around the net and reads rebounds so well. He is able to read the plays of his linemates so well that he is always in the proper position to take the pass. He likes to go to the net and is very good in scoring on deflections as he uses his outstanding hand-eye coordination in the best possible way. His play away from the puck is very effective because he is constantly moving, never waiting for the puck but rather reading the plays in advance. He is a very active player on the ice and is always trying to create a scoring chance. He is the type of player his coach plays when in need of a goal or an offensive spark. His defensive game is effective as well as he backchecks responsibly and doesn’t shy away from blocking shots. The defensive side of his game has really improved as of late and he uses his long reach better to interrupt passes or deflect shots over the glass. He is actively looking for his opponents in his own zone and can more and more be found behind his own goal digging out pucks in corner battles. Grade: 70
Matthews does not get involved in a lot of physical battles nor does he lay out big hits. Because of his size, skating balance and leg strength, he is not easy to knock off the puck and he gives defenders a hard time to move him around in the crease when screening goaltenders. He uses his long reach effectively to protect the puck and he is able to perform quiet checks successfully using his whole body but his game is definitely not focused on a strong physical game. However, if he continues to add extra muscle, he can still be a solid physical player at NHL-level and will not get outmuscled or knocked off the puck with ease. Grade: 50
Auston Matthews has the potential to become a franchise player for the team that selects him up. He is playing a very dominant game in the highest Swiss league against men and competes very hard. He is one of the most prolific goal scorers in the entire league and he is ahead of fellow 2016-draft eligible players in many aspects. His vision, shot, puckhandling, Hockey IQ and compete level are making him the untouchable number one for the 2016 NHL Draft in my opinion. The way he dominates older opponents is very impressive for an 18-year-old kid and certainly does not indicate anything other than having him drafted as first overall. He has improved his two-way game a lot under head coach Mark Crawford in Switzerland which will make him an even more complete player than he already is. There are not many flaws in his game but he sometimes tends to do too much and needs to simplify his game. He likes to go into one-against-one situations when he should have rather played a pass instead. However, this is something that can be evidenced with many young prospects and will most certainly go away with growing up and maturing. Matthews is a very ambitious person and I do see in him future captain material. He is the type of player that keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout the entire game and would be the single reason for purchasing a ticket for the game he is in.
Scouting Report – Pius Suter
Team: ZSC Lions (Swiss NLA) Draft Status: 2016 eligible
Stats to date: 37 GP, 12 G, 9 A, 21 Pts, 6 PIM
Height/Weight: 5-11”, 170
Pius Suter is an agile skater who can move around the ice well, both north-south and east-west. His top speed is decent and he possesses quite powerful strides compared to his size of only 5-11. He makes use of his acceleration while executing his strong transition game moving from a defensive position into the offensive mode very quickly. Grade: 50
Pius Suter is no big sniper, neither does he use his shot a lot. However, his wrist shot shows good accuracy and he can beat the goaltender up high. Although he does not possess a quick release nor above average shot power, he still scored over 10 goals this season already and can make you pay if you do give him open ice and shooting lanes as an opponent defender. Grade: 40
Suter makes very smart decisions with the puck and uses his good vision to make passes. He does not commit a lot of mistakes and turnovers while carrying the puck. He has good hands and is a good puckhandler and uses those skills to make plays in tight and when under pressure. He is an excellent pass receiver and has his stick constantly on the ice being ready for a pass. He is also able to receive and control inaccurate passes without losing the control over the puck. He uses his good hand-eye coordination to deflect pucks and control bumping pucks. Grade: 45
Suter is a highly-intelligent player who does a lot of small things right, uses his outstanding work ethic and matured understanding of the game to make plays. He is showing above average work ethic and does everything needed for the win. He plays with a lot of drive and determination in each shift and does not quit on plays. Suter is a center with an excellent two-way game and knows his defensive responsibilities as well as his offensive ones. He backchecks without exception and is very well aware of his opponent. He is very good in stealing the puck as he uses his matured understanding of the game and active stick to poke check. Suter is a dangerous penalty killer as he is watching for puck steals and breakaway situations. He shows a willingness to sacrifice his body with blocking shots and is always trying to be in shooting lanes. When he is not in puck possession, he likes to go directly to the front of the net to deflect pucks or screen goaltenders. Grade: 55
He is not an overly physical player nor does he lay out big hits and goes into a lot of corner battles, which has a lot to do with his smallish size. You have to give him credit though for his willingness to battle against bigger opponents. He does not shy away from positional battles in front of the net. He is using his entire body to make himself hard to move around in front of the net and competes hard. Although he is not the biggest guy on the ice, he is able to win board battles as he shows an extreme will power to win the battles and does not quit in those battles. Grade: 40
Suter used to be more of a defensive minded and hard-working center who did not have a lot of offensive upside. However, in the past year he really improved offensively and is growing into a more offensive role. He has started to gain more confidence in the offensive zone and has thus produced more scoring chances. When he moved back to Switzerland after spending two seasons in the OHL, he had to start the season in the second highest league but after working extremely hard, he got the well-deserved call-up early in the season. This is exactly what makes him such a valuable player. He is willing to battle and does not quit. He plays a sound all-around game and can be used in a variety of game situations. I am really surprised he did not get drafted last year but he is having a very solid season so far against men and shows that he should definitely be in the notebooks of scouts for 2016.