Auston Matthews' plan to play in Europe next season appears to have hit a snag.
Matthews - widely considered the top prospect for the 2016 NHL Draft - was leaning toward playing his draft-eligible season with the ZSC Zurich Lions in Switzerland's top division, but his lack of professional experience is making it difficult to secure a work permit, according to ISS Hockey scout Pete Judge.
The WHL's Everett Silvertips own Matthews' CHL rights, but he seems more interested in playing against professionals in Europe than his amateur peers after dominating with the U.S. National Team Development Program this season.
"Auston wants to challenge himself, and that's why he's had the thought of going overseas," U.S. under-18 coach Don Granato told NHL.com. "The intrigue for him is that it's a challenge and an unknown. He did so well against Division I (NCAA) teams this year, scoring 10 goals in 10 games. I don't think there's a player in college hockey who averaged a goal a game, and he's a junior in high school."
Swiss law prohibits non-European Union citizens from obtaining a work permit to play hockey or soccer without at least one year of prior professional experience. Soccer club FC Basel faced a similar situation with a Serbian player it signed who was forced to play a year on loan in Slovakia before he was eligible to play in Switzerland.