Auston Matthews, the projected No. 1 pick for the 2016 NHL draft, has reportedly sustained a back injury that is expected to keep him out of an upcoming international tournament. Matthews, a center with Zurich Lions of the Swiss National League,
missed his team’s final game before the international break on Friday because of the back ailment,
according to Sportnet’s Damien Cox. The Scottsdale, Ariz., product now isn’t likely to compete for the United States at the Deutschland Cup, which runs from Nov. 6 to 8.
But the amount of time Matthews is expected to miss is unclear. Cox is reporting Matthews’ injury “
will sideline him for several weeks.” However, a Swiss hockey website states Matthews is
expected to return to the lineup when the Lions play their next game Nov. 12. Before his injury, Matthews had clearly established himself as the consensus top prospect for next June’s draft. The Hockey News' Ryan Kennedy has him
rated at the head of the class. “He’s got size, smarts and great offensive production,” Kennedy said. “The fact he’s leading a major European league in goals at 18 is stunning.”
Matthews had 10 goals and 17 points in 14 games before the injury. His 10 goals are tops in the SNL. Matthews is second in Lions scoring, one point behind former Edmonton Oiler Robert Nilsson. He is tied for seventh in league scoring. Coincidently, 2015 first overall NHL pick Connor McDavid was also sidelined for a considerable period around the same last year. McDavid broke a bone in his hand after getting in a fight in an OHL game last November. McDavid returned in time for the World Junior Championship and played a starring role in Canada’s gold medal-winning effort. Matthews suited up for the Americans at the world juniors last season as a 17-year-old, recording a goal and three points in five games.