We turn our attention back to the USNTDP for our 45th ranked prospect in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft.
Mattias Samuelsson is a player that will likely see his name called higher than we have ranked and there are quite a few reasons why that may happen. He plays a well-rounded game with size, physicality, and underrated offensive chops with some encouraging underlying numbers.
Son to former NHLer Kjell Samuelsson, Mattias is a player that I have been a fan of all year and think that he is almost certainly destined to be an NHL player for a long time given his versatility on the backend.
Let’s tackle the breakdown of the left-handed defender.
- Age/Birthdate: 17.51/ March 14, 2000
- Birthplace: Voorhees, NJ, USA
- Frame:6-foot-4/ 216 lbs
- Position: Defence
- Handedness: Left
- Draft Year Team: USNTDP Juniors(USHL)
- WSI U15 Best Defenseman
- YOG Gold Medal
- U18 WJC Silver Medal
- U18 WJC Top 3 Player on Team
Selected by the Sarnia Sting in the 4th round of the OHL Priority Selection draft but decided to head to the USNTD Program for his D-1 season. He appeared in 10 games for the U18 team that season before making the leap to that team for this most recent season.
Samuelsson committed to the University of Western Michigan on January 18, 2018.
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Despite posting a 64.9% GF%, he still had a -2.6% GFREL% given how dominant the USNTDP was all season against USHL teams. Samuelsson stands out in SEAL and XLS% and is one of the main reasons why he stands out from a draft data standpoint.
A large portion of the goals against for the USHL sample size came in the final four games against that level of competition.
Adjusted Scoring (SEAL)
What really stands out to me is that Samuelsson made the most of his ice time in terms of 5v5 eP60 despite rotating through defensive partners throughout the games against USHL teams. Despite being known more for his defensive game, Samuelsson made produced at a really encouraging rate with the ice time that was afforded to him. There are two other defensemen who produced at higher rates but Samuelsson does show well here.
In terms of GF%, aside from Trevor Janicke and Jonathan Gruden, Samuelsson made every one of his most common linemates and defensive partners better.
This graph is based on the games played against USHL teams, which is a limited sample size, but 31.8% of his comparable players went onto becoming NHL regulars. That presents a high success rate among the draft eligible players of this draft class.
Mattias Samuelsson is a defender that has a versitile skillset and well-rounded game that allows him to make an impact in all three zones. He uses his large 6’4″ and 216 lbs frame to be physical in his own zone. He is willing to take the body to seperate his opponents from the puck or just push them out of the way.
He knows that he has the size advantage on a lot of players and thus uses that to his benefit. He is smart with his engagements though and isn’t someone that will just hack and wack someone. Samuelsson will wait until the right moment to engage or direct his opponent out of danger.
His long reach affords him the ability to keep a stick close to attacking forwards, forcing them to adjust their lanes by protecting the centre of the ice.
The Voorhees native blocks shots, takes away lanes, and uses his long reach to disrupt passes and shots. He makes a crisp first pass out of the zone or to his partner to alleviate pressure and get the puck in the right direction.
In the defensive zone, Samuelsson is a multi faceted player in the sense that he is willing to do the ‘old school’ things through physical play, grittiness, and shot blocking but is ‘new school’ in that he can move the puck well and will skate it out if needed. His defensive zone play is his best attribute and something that is easily projectable to the professional game.
On the offensive side of the puck, Samuelsson is not a flashy player. He has a heavy shot when allowed the time to wind up but has a wrist shot that he can get some speed on it. He is good at getting pucks through despite not being overally active on the blue line. He distrubutes the puck well but lacks the creativity to allude opponents and makes relies on the smart and safe play.
The monster defender’s offensive game is effective albeit simple with smart decisions.
His skating is good for his size with strong and powerful strides that allow him to achieve a good top speed. His acceleration and edge work leave a little to be desired but they are not things that will hinder his ability to defend or join the attack.
With Samuelsson going the NCAA route, he will have time round out the rough edges to his game and refine them.
Clearly, we do have Samuelsson ranked lower than the majority of public rankings and that is because of the possibility of a lower ceiling. Samuelsson has a great two-way game that will allow him to move up and down the lineup and compliment his partners very well. His defensive zone play is very good and means that if he is pairing with a more offensive minded partner, then we could see a respectable point total every year. With the exception of John Carlson’s offensive outburst, his cohorts are all of the ‘two-way’ mould and that is likely where Samuelsson ends up.
As mentioned before, I’m a fan of his game and think he is worth targetting earlier than this slot but it’s important to keep in mind that you may be sacrificing high-end potential for a safer option.
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He utilizes his size as a strength. Defensively he stands out. He understands the role. He plays within his means. He moves well for his size, he doesn’t over-handle the puck. He does know how to utilize his size asset and he does know how to utilize it within the rules. He doesn’t go out of his way to run guys, hit guys. His 1-on-1 game, he makes sure he handles his checks. On the defensive side of the puck he’s responsible with it.
Samuelsson is a monster-sized blueliner who takes after his father, former NHLer Kjell Samuelsson…not a flashy offensive guy by any means, but someone who just plays the game the right way with smarts and instincts…keeps his head up and always adapting to the play…has a decent stride that generates speed but could use more power and quicker feet…uses his vision and skilled puckhandling to distribute the puck with crisp, accurate passes…powerful snap shot with a quick release and accuracy…is physical and punishes his checks either along the wall of if they invade the crease…gets his frame into shooting lanes and blocks shots…great reach to defend, getting his stick on pucks, closing off lanes before the opposition can make an offensive play…committed to the University of Michigan where he will have plenty of time to rough off any edges to his game…a guy who could potentially do a bit of everything…has the size, strength and bloodlines to get a scout’s attention but also has two-way upside…has solid potential to develop into a two-way, top-four defender at the NHL level.