Traded mid-season to the North Bay Battalion, our 99th ranked prospect, Matthews Struthers comes in as the highest ranked player from North Bay.
A powerful skating centre was in more of a depth role on the Owen Sound Attack but was given a larger role with the Battalion after being acquired for Canucks prospect, Brett McKenzie. Given that expanded role, Struthers saw an uptick in his offensive production over the second half and pushed himself into a position where an organization may take a flyer on him in the later rounds.
- Age/Birthdate:17.72/ December 26, 1999
- Birthplace: Milton, ON, CAN
- Frame:6-foot-2/ 192 lbs
- Draft Year Team: Owen Sound Attack(OHL)/ North Bay Battalion (OHL)
- Accomplishments/Awards:2015-16 U17 WHC Gold Medal & U17 Development Camp Champion
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Struthers appeared in 32 games for the Owen Sound Attack and you can tell from his OHL point tracker the moment that he was moved. He immediately put up points in the first few games, saw a dip and then continued to be hot during the remainder of the season. He followed that up with six points in five playoff games for North Bay.
He went from some fairly low event hockey in a lesser role with Owen Sound to a larger role with North Bay that saw his goals-for percentage slowly climb to close out the year.
All of the WOWY data is from his time with the Battalion and he produced some interesting results – the 5v5 production with the defensive pairing of Riley Bruce and Adam Thilander is extremely encouraging.
21.5% of Struther’s cohorts went onto becoming successful NHL players but it’s a hodgepodge of matches with 443 total matches. At the very least, we can feel confident in the success rate due to it being such a large matching pool. An expected production of 34.5 points per 82 games played is mostly due to the wide variance in successful players.
Struthers was someone that I saw quite a few times by closely following the Owen Sound Attack for Canucks prospect Jonah Gadjovich. He was moved from the Attack as the organization was looking for a more offensive option (at the OHL level) to slot into their 2nd line centre spot behind Kevin Hancock and felt that 20-year-old Brett McKenzie was a better player for that role at that moment than Struthers was providing.
Struthers is an all-around good player who played really well when afforded a larger opportunity. He doesn’t have an elite skill to his game but does everything reasonably well. The biggest knock to his game is his skating and more specifically lacking the ability to get going through his acceleration. He works hard around the net to get to loose pucks, creating mayhem and getting a second and third chance. I do also like his ability to slip in and out of coverage, although it can appear to be him floating to those gaps and the puck coming there rather than a conscious effort to get into that gap. So there is some luck to that, but it has stood out to me in the viewings I’ve had of him.
He has an NHL frame and lower body strength that allows him to be effective along the boards and in those previously mentioned battles in front. The Milton, ON native, is strong on his skates, able to lean onto his opponents to protect the puck and keep it within his reach. Struthers is also a good ‘two way’ player in the sense that he uses those strengths to his advantage in the defensive zone and is smart with his cut-offs and containments.
It will be interesting to see where Struthers gets selected, if at all, this draft year. He has a lot of skills that you would hope from a bottom six player in the NHL and when he was afforded a larger opportunity, he made the most of it. His cohorts show a high success rate and some really intriguing names. His WOWY GF percentages show that he made everyone he played with better and that is a good sign.
Struthers rankings suggest that he will be available in the later rounds and really depends if a team thinks they can improve his acceleration as that will be the most likely part of his game to hold him back. Alternatively, he could slip because teams would like to target players that they have their rights for four years (NCAA/SHL) rather than the two with Struthers.
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Struthers has a long, powerful stride in his skating and is extremely strong on his skates. But he lacks an explosiveness in his first few strides and really doesn’t possess a separation gear. So, he relies on his hockey smarts and very good vision to make plays or to put pucks in areas where his teammates are more likely to retrieve them. His passing is slightly underrated and most of his goals will come from going to those dirty areas.
Adjusted Scoring (SEAL)
CanucksArmy’s 2018 NHL Draft Rankings