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Draft Profile: Olli Maatta

Friday, 06.15.2012 / 11:45 AM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Michael Smith
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Draft Profile: Olli Maatta
Each weekday leading up to the 2012 NHL Draft on June 22, CarolinaHurricanes.com will profile one player we believe might be available for Carolina’s eighth pick. Previous Profiles: Cody Ceci | Mathew Dumba | Radek Faksa | Filip Forsberg | Alex Galchenyuk | Mikhail Grigorenko | Related Links: 2012 NHL Draft Preview | Hurricanes Draft History





Like many European players who dream of playing in the National Hockey League, Olli Maatta came to North America to improve his game and prepare for the on- and off-ice life of the NHL.

Michael Smith
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And like many first-year import players, Maatta struggled out of the gate as he adjusted to the North American game.

As the 2011-12 season progressed, Maatta only improved, culminating in his eye-opening playoff performance as he helped the London Knights capture the Ontario Hockey League title and make a run to the Memorial Cup championship game.

After leading OHL rookie defensemen in scoring with 32 points (5g, 27a) in 58 regular-season games, Maatta posted 23 points (6g, 17a) in just 19 games in the postseason, ranking tied for first among all OHL defensemen.

“He had a very, very strong performance that played a large role in London’s success,” MacDonald said.

Though some scouts wonder if Maatta’s offensive abilities can translate at the NHL level, his defensive acumen is solid and unquestioned. He was a plus-25 in the regular season and a plus-11 in the playoffs, and he’s ranked eighth overall among North American skaters by the NHL’s Central Scouting Service.

OLLI MAATTA
DEFENSEMAN
HOMETOWN: JYVASKYLA, FINLAND
HEIGHT: 6-2
WEIGHT: 200
BIRTHDAY: AUG. 22, 1994 (AGE 17)

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.

“At the end of the season, he was taking charge,” MacDonald said. “He went from a mop-up guy on the power play to a guy who was playing the whole two minutes.”

The London Knights eyed Maatta’s skills from the beginning, when they traded a player and three picks to select him first overall in the 2011 Canadian Hockey League Import Draft, ahead of top forward prospect Mikhail Grigorenko and the Canes’ 2011 second-round draft pick Victor Rask.

Maatta’s international experience is quite extensive compared to other draft-eligible prospects. At age 17, Maatta has already participated in two World Junior Championships with Team Finland. In 2011, Maatta became the youngest player ever to be named to Finland’s WJC team at the age of 16.

Maatta only played in one game of the 2012 WJC after being concussed on a hit from Canada’s Boone Jenner. The Jyvaskyla, Finland native returned from the concussion three weeks later, and after another adjustment period showed no lasting ill effects.

Already experienced with playing at a high level, especially on the international stage, and thriving in the North American game when the stakes and competition are elevated, Maatta projects to be a top 15 selection on June 22. It’s probable he’ll be available in the eighth hole, and with a number of the top defensive prospects having a strong offensive game, Maatta would be a dependable defense-focused selection.



SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Skinner 82 28 23 -2 51
V. Rask 80 21 27 -6 48
J. Staal 82 20 28 6 48
E. Lindholm 82 11 28 -23 39
J. Faulk 64 16 21 -22 37
K. Versteeg 63 11 22 -6 33
E. Staal 63 10 23 -3 33
J. Nordstrom 71 10 14 1 24
A. Nestrasil 55 9 14 4 23
R. Nash 64 9 13 -5 22
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 23 17 10 .909 2.41
E. Lack 12 14 6 .901 2.81