The wait for Auston Matthews is over for the Everett Silvertips. Unfortunately, they didn't get the decision they were hoping for.
Auston Matthews, projected No. 1 pick next year, officially signs with ZSC Lions in Swiss league. His statement: pic.twitter.com/ZMXHuIalgg— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) August 7, 2015
The seventeen year-old is officially playing in Switzerland for the ZSC Lions next season. He was issued a work visa to play when he turns 18 on September 17th. It was questionable if he would be able to play in Europe in July when the issues with the visa arose because of his age and child labor laws.
The Matthews camp expected to announce where Auston would be playing shortly after World Juniors team evaluation camp, and many Everett fans waited with bated breath to see whether he was going to play for the reigning US Division Champions, or if he was going to find a way past immigration laws and head to Switzerland.
The Arizona native is set to debut for the Lions on September 18 against HC Fribourg-Gottéron, having missed just four league games.
Matthews was drafted by the Silvertips in the third round of the 2012 Bantam Draft, and is projected by many to be drafted first overall in the 2016 NHL draft because of his outstanding hockey knowledge and skill set. He is touted to be the "next big thing," and his numbers back that up. He played 60 games for the United States Development program in 2014 with staggering tallies of 55 goals, 61 assists, and 116 points. There is no doubt he would help the Silvertips immensely, but it appears that ship has sailed.
Where does that leave the Silvertips?
With 2014 NHL first rounder Nikita Scherbak presumably heading to play for the Montreal Canadiens, the Silvertips are having a rough off-season and some regression is possible. The record-breaking scoring pace of last season is something that appears to be unobtainable. Everett still retains a fantastic defensive group, led by Noah Juulsen, and a breakout star goalie in Carter Hart.
Usually known for their strong defense more than their high-powered offense, the Silvertips get back to their roots in the upcoming season. Kevin Constantine brings great character and NHL experience as the head coach. A young offensive group, with Carson Stadnyk returning, could continue improving.
Only time will tell if the Silvertips will regress, but don't fret because they didn't win the Auston Matthews lottery. The prize was only for a season, and the Tips appear to have a solid foundation for years to come.