And now things start to get interesting as we enter the top 20 in our Draft profiles. And they get interesting with Olli Maatta. Maatta spent his 2011-2012 with the London Knights, his first season playing in North America, and did not disappoint in limited playing time due to injury. In 58 games for the Knights, Maatta put up 32 points and a somewhat ridiculous plus-25 rating to go along with 25 penalty minutes. Unfortunately, Maatta’s season was shortened due to a concussion he suffered in the first game of the World Junior Championships in which he played for Finland.
Maatta was also a member of the 2011 U20 and U18 World Junior teams for Finland. In the U20 tournament, Maatta registered no points in the six games he played but was noted for his defensive ability. In the U18 tournament, Maata had 4 points in 6 games and was named one of the top 3 players for Finland in the tournament. He made his way to the CHL when he was selected first overall in the 2011 Import Draft by London.
Weight: 202 pounds
Born: August 22, 1994
What People In The Know Know
Some scouts have offered comparisons to Ryan Suter, as Maatta is seen as a calm and composed puck-moving defenseman. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound blueliner is reliable in his own end and plays a defensively sound game. His keen hockey sense enables him to read plays well and break them up before they become legitimate scoring chances. Maatta’s improvement over the course of the season resulted in a more prominent role on the power play, where his vision to make the perfect pass and mobility at the point allowed him to prosper.
The Finnish defenceman suited up at the 2011 World Junior Hockey Championship, a tournament typically dominated by 18 and 19-year-olds, when he was just 16. Maatta is one of only three Finns in the past 15 years to do that and joins the likes of Canadians Wayne Gretzky, Eric Lindros, Jason Spezza and Sidney Crosby in competing at the event at such an early age.
Despite being sidelined with a concussion early in the WJC, Maatta did enough with the London Knights to gain consideration as one of the top defensive prospects in the draft.
In a crop full of offensive defenseman, Maatta is a secondary offensive producer whose strengths lie in his defensive-zone play.
“He gets decent numbers on a team like London,” said one scout, “but when you translate it to the next level, I don’t necessarily see him as a high-end skill guy.”
Maatta does get the puck out of his own end effectively, whether it’s off the glass or with an effective first pass and he has the kind of composure you need to be the trust of a breakout. He also has the ability to play a shut down role if needed.
Whether you like Maatta and feel he can contribute to your team depends on your taste. One scout described him as a meat-and-potatoes defenseman. Another classified him as vanilla.
From the Horse’s Mouth
Maatta was a player that was expected to make a lot of noise at this year’s World Junior Championship before the concussion left us all wondering what could have been but with so much experience at such a young age, it may not matter in the end.
There has been talk of Maatta going as high as tenth overall in the draft and I think this might be accurate. Maatta is currently ranked eighth amongst North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting and I think that Maatta could surprise a lot of people by going a whole lot earlier than any of us expect.