Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Lou Lamoriello, center, helps first overall pick Auston Matthews who puts on his sweater at the NHL draft in Buffalo, N.Y., Friday June 24, 2016. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) On the heels of the NHL expanding into Las Vegas, the Toronto Maple Leafs are pinning their future on Arizona-born center Auston Matthews.
Amid chants of "Go Leafs, Go!" the 18-year-old from Scottsdale was selected by Toronto with the first pick in the NHL draft Friday night. Though the Maple Leafs had kept their decision under wraps since winning the draft lottery in April, Matthews was the expected choice.
NHL Central Scouting ranked the 6-foot-2, 210-pound play-maker as its top draft-eligible project, and he's also a natural center, a top-line position that's difficult to fill. Matthews already has pro experience after spending last season with Zurich in the Swiss Elite League.