Saturday, July 9, 2011

Olli Maatta

Olli Maatta - London Knights

6'1" - 198 LBS
D.O.B. August 22, 1994

It was somewhat of a surprise when the London Knights selected the Finnish defenseman first overall in the CHL Import Draft. When you consider that there are many doubts number two pick Mikhail Grigorenko (Quebec Ramparts - QMJHL) would come to North America to play junior and number 3 pick Victor Rask (Calgary Hitmen - WHL) is already drafted into the NHL and may not want to come play junior in Canada, Maatta became the logical choice. Not to mention, the Knights traded up to make this choice, and given the price they paid (three picks and a player), they needed someone that would play in London with the pick.

Maatta plays a physical game, and when he gets even bigger we could see an improvement in that department. His skating is average. He lacks in both acceleration and overall speed, but isn't something that can't be corrected through power skating. His skating technique is just fine.

Maatta is an all around defenseman. He has very good vision. He makes an excellent first pass and does very well with the stretch pass. He is an excellent stick handler and protects the puck well, but his lack of speed prevents him from taking it to the next level. Maatta will also make the safe play before attempting one that is not in his forte.

His international experience speaks volumes. He was the youngest player ever to play for Finland in the World Junior Championships in Buffalo - prior to playing in the IIHF World Under 18 in Germany. It's not that he got plenty of playing time in the WJC, but the experience - and the chance to play for Finland again in Calgary in 2012 should bode well.

So will Maatta come over to North America to play Junior? Knights' GM Mark Hunter spoke following the draft. "I just got off the phone with his agent and his mother so everything sounds great." Hunter added: "we figure this young guy is going to come in and play 20 minutes a game."

So where will Maatta end up going in the NHL Entry Draft? Hunter said, " I think he's a young man that's going to be a high pick next year and it's going to be something the fans will enjoy watching."

I'll certainly be seeing a lot of Maatta in the upcoming season.

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