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Zurich Lions announce signing of top-rated NHL prospect Auston Matthews

Minas Panagiotakis / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Auston Matthews is taking his draft season to Switzerland after the Zurich Schlittschuh Lions officially announced Friday that the top-rated NHL draft prospect - and anticipated No. 1-overall pick next summer - will join the club on a one-year deal.

Being a native of Scottsdale, Ariz., Matthews' path to the NHL already diverges from the norm, but this truly is a trailblazing decision on his part. He will earn a reported $400,000 salary while competing with established pros in his final season to fine-tune before earning an NHL affiliation.

Zurich general manager Edgar Salis sees the partnership being mutually beneficial.

"He can help us, and we can help him with our program to develop and help him for his next step," Salis said Friday in a phone interview with Stephen Whyno of the Canadian Press.

"I think the league we are in here and the speed and everything, it's pretty good. I think it's really good. We've got a good coach and a good group."

The move, rumored for the last several months, comes at the direct expense of the WHL's Everett Silvertips, who hold his junior rights.

The 17-year-old Matthews now assumes the fourth import roster position for former NHL head coach Marc Crawford's Lions, joining former NHL players Ryan Shannon, Dan Fritsche, and Marc-Andre Bergeron.

Zurich Lions announce signing of top-rated NHL prospect Auston Matthews
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