Team members of ZSC Lion and SC Bern in 2012
Team members of ZSC Lion and SC Bern clash during their Swiss ice hockey playoff game at the Hallenstadion arena in Zurich April 14, 2012. Reuters/Arnd Wiegmann

One of the top prospects in the 2016 NHL Draft, Auston Matthews, will be playing in the premier professional ice hockey league in Switzerland, the Swiss National League A, for the Zurich Lions. "I'm really excited. I'm really fortunate for the opportunity to go over there and play for the Zurich Lions," Matthews told ESPN. "Playing for an NHL coach and playing against older competition, they're going to push me to raise my level each game."

According to the ESPN report, Matthews is the first North American to play in Europe during his draft year.

"I started kicking around the idea of playing in Switzerland during the World Under-18 Championship in April. I saw the country and it was really nice. I was talking to a lot of people and getting feedback from players in that league." Matthews said via the league’s official website.

Matthews trained with the USA Hockey National Team Development Program team from 2013 to 2015 and was named the Most Valuable Player at the 2015 World Under-18 Championships. The Lions won the league championship in three of the last eight seasons, in 2014, 2012 and 2008.

Canadian head coach Marc Crawford, a former NHL player and head coach, will manage Matthews, who is not eligible to play in any games with the Swiss squad until he turns 18 in September.