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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.



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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 53 40 9 4 175 120 84
2 FLA 55 32 17 6 153 127 70
3 NYR 55 31 18 6 157 140 68
4 DET 55 28 18 9 138 134 65
5 NYI 53 29 18 6 150 131 64
6 TBL 54 30 20 4 144 130 64
7 BOS 54 29 19 6 159 148 64
8 PIT 54 28 19 7 139 136 63
9 NJD 55 27 21 7 122 123 61
10 CAR 55 24 21 10 131 143 58
11 MTL 56 27 25 4 151 151 58
12 PHI 53 24 20 9 127 138 57
13 OTT 56 25 25 6 157 173 56
14 BUF 56 22 28 6 131 155 50
15 CBJ 56 22 28 6 140 173 50
16 TOR 53 19 25 9 122 149 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Faulk 54 15 19 -13 34
J. Skinner 55 19 12 -3 31
V. Rask 53 12 19 0 31
J. Staal 55 12 19 7 31
K. Versteeg 54 10 21 1 31
E. Staal 55 9 21 1 30
E. Lindholm 55 8 16 -9 24
A. Nestrasil 48 8 12 0 20
J. Nordstrom 44 5 10 2 15
R. Hainsey 55 3 11 -12 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 15 11 7 .909 2.34
E. Lack 9 10 3 .901 2.74
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