The U.S. National Team has made 2016 draft eligible forward Auston Matthews the first player named to the 2016 IIHF World Championships roster, USA Hockey announced Thursday. His inclusion on the team precedes any announcements about the team’s coaching staff as well.
Some in Matthews’s position — projected to be the number one overall pick in June’s draft — choose to stick to training between the end of the season and the draft to preserve their health. That does not appear to be Matthews’s plan.
The Arizona native will be headed to Moscow and St. Petersburg for the tournament, which starts on May 6. Before that, he’ll train in Plymouth, Michigan with the U.S. National Team Development Program, where he played prior to this season.
He spent this year playing for the Zurich Lions in the Swiss NLA, where he was given the Rising Star Award after notching 46 points in 36 games. It’s the best season by points or points per game by a U20 player in league history. He did that while still missing time with an injury and heading to Helsinki, Finland to be an alternate captain on the U.S. Team during the 2016 World Junior Championship. A strong performance by Matthews in that tournament helped the U.S. to capture bronze.