Leafs take Matthews with No. 1 overall pick

The Toronto Maple Leafs have taken center Auston Matthews with the No. 1 overall pick in the NHL draft on Friday night in Buffalo, New York.

Matthews, 18, became the first American to be selected No. 1 overall since the Blackhawks chose Patrick Kane with the top pick in the 2007 draft.

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Patrik Laine, a 18-year-old winger from Finland, went to the Winnipeg Jets with the second pick.

Matthews spent the past season playing in Switzerland, but he showcased his considerable skill while playing for Team USA during this year’s World Championships.

A center from Arizona, he finished the tournament with six goals and nine points in 10 games while playing against NHL competition.

His performance there led to him being placed on Team North America for this fall’s World Cup of Hockey.

“I was definitely motivated to have a good Worlds, compete and show I could play at that level and make an impact,” Matthews said. “Now that I’ve been named to [the Team North America] roster, I did a pretty good job of that.”

While an American playing in Switzerland isn’t a conventional path to the NHL, Matthews was coached in Zurich by Stanley Cup-­winning coach Marc Crawford. Matthews battled injuries but still ended up with 46 points in 36 games for the Lions, good for second in team scoring, and finished second in voting for the league’s MVP award.

“I really enjoyed the experience over there,” Matthews said. “I think I learned a lot.”

Laine, a 6-­foot-­4, 206-­pound winger, showcased his talent during this year’s World Championships where he finished second in goals scored and earned tournament MVP honors.

He was first in scoring at the World Junior Championship in January while playing on the gold medal-­winning squad’s top line. He also tallied 17 goals and 16 assists over 46 games while playing in Finland’s top league this past season.

Information from ESPN.com’s Scott Burnside was used in this report.

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