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2012 NHL Draft Prospect Profile: Olli Määttä

Olli Määttä, D

Birthplace: Jyväskylä, Finland, 8/22/94
Bio: 6’2, 200 lbs., L
London Knights, OHL
Rankings: ISS – 12; CSS – 8 (NA)

The Skinny: While lacking sexy attacking upside, mobile defensemen with size and smarts don’t grow on trees, so Olli Määttä will likely hear his name called on June 22.

A concussion suffered in the first game of Finland’s World Junior Championship tournament dampened what had been a steep rise for London defenseman, Olli Määttä. A stalwart and ‘thick-framed’ blueliner from the Lakeland region of the Baltic state, Määttä has solid two-way capabilities and intelligence making him an intriguing prospect.

The youngest Finn to ever play in the World Junior Championships, Määttä has experienced the pressure of playing on the world’s biggest stages. In addition, he played in the Finnish second division against men for much of last season before making the jump to the OHL.

Määttä projects most completely as a defense-first blueliner. He has excellent defensive acumen, outstanding vision and situational awareness and does a decent job clearing the front of the net. While not heavily physical, he’s willing to throw checks and use his impressive frame and strength to his advantage while mucking for pucks.

His hockey sense is among the highest in this draft class. Määttä remains poised under pressure (even intense physical pressure) and fills lanes/manages gaps effectively and has a good sense of positioning for a player his age (he’ll be one of the youngest in this draft class with his late-August birthdate).

While Määttä didn’t display a particularly dynamic offensive game until he put up 23 points in 23 postseason contests for the OHL Champs, he’s an able puck-mover and could fill that role at the NHL level. His skating is smooth and certainly above average for his size but hardly explosive.

Some scouts have noted him gaining confidence and aggressiveness as the season has progressed but it appears his attacking upside is relatively limited. He’s an effective distributor of the puck in the offensive zone, but the former first overall selection in the CHL Import Draft has to improve his shot which is arguably his most ‘pedestrian’ attribute. As such, he will see more time as a powerplay quarterback than as a triggerman.

In the end, like Griffin Reinhart, Määttä is a fairly safe pick and projects solidly as a top-four defenseman with shutdown potential due to his large frame, defensive acumen and poise, and solid mobility. However, unless franchises feel his outstanding postseason indicates a more completely developed offensive dimension, the top-twelve might be a stretch.

Ideal Fits: Teams who’d benefit from a safe, solid selection on the blueline in the middle third of the first round: Calgary, Ottawa, Philadelphia and Washington.

Why Your Team Will Take Him: Because, for a kid who won’t turn eighteen until NHL Rookie Camps – he’s got a surprising amount of polish in his game and perhaps some understated upside.

Why Your Team Will Pass on Him: Because many are looking for more offensive potential from the back-end than he’s credited with; Because they weren’t as impressed with his point-per-game-postseason as the rest of us.

Strengths:  Hockey IQ, Defensive Game, Puck-Moving, Mobility, Size, Distribution, Poise

Weaknesses/Concerns: Shooting, Creativity, Explosiveness, Physicality

Projection: Middle-Pairing Two-Way Defenseman (10g, 45p potential)

Predicted 2012 NHL Draft Range: First Round (11-20)

Overall Rank: 17

N.A. Rank: 13

OHL Rank: 5

Defenseman Rank: 8

Finland National Rank: 2

Bob is the Boston Bruins correspondent for The Hockey Writers and a credentialed member of the Providence Bruins' Media.

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