It appears that 2012 is the year of CHL Europeans in the draft, as four of the top ten North American skaters according to the NHL Central Scouting are European born. One of which is young defenseman Olli Maatta of the London Knights. The Finnish born player is tying up his first season in the OHL with the Knights.
Maatta was London’s first overall pick in the 2011 OHL Imports Draft after having a successful junior career in Europe. The Knights actually traded up to get Maatta, who was a surprise with Grigorenko sitting on the board as well. The year before Maatta had played 19 games in the SM-Liiga Junior A league, scoring 2 goals and 6 assists. He had also been a member of the Finnish World Junior team that season. His most impressive numbers came in 2009-2010 when he scored 22 points in 21 games for the Junior C SM-sarja.
In the OHL Maatta has shown his offensive upside, scoring 5 goals and 27 assists in 58 games. He’s been praised for his maturity and adaptation towards the North American style of play. He’s a puck moving defenseman who shows a ton of potential. Its been an interesting jump for the young defenseman, even though he’s been used to playing with older players for the past couple of years. This should be a good sign for NHL scouts, who have seen Maatta already adapt to language barriers and a change in game style.
This past season Maatta was once again selected to the Finnish World Juniors team, but played in only one game. He needs to work on his skating, as that appears to be his greatest weakness. He’s projected to be a 3rd or 4th defenseman in the NHL. He is currently 14th in TSN’s monthly ratings of draft prospects and was ranked 6th in North American Skaters by the mid-point Central Scouting ratings.
- Follow us on Twitter. In fact, don’t just follow us. Follow who I follow and who follows me. You’d be amazed at what you can learn about the Sabres, and how many laughs you can have. Oh, and that’s just @sabrenoise, also follow @Megan_Colleen_, @GoodsOnSabres, @Melissa_Buffalo, @SabresAmerks and @Lardsy
- Join us on Faceboook! Visit the SabreNoise Page or on the Network Blogs App.
- Check out our main NHL site, Too Many Men. It’s a daily dose of hockey from around the league.
- Have you heard Rink Side Rants yet? Check out our live podcast programming throughout the week. Missed an episode, check out the archives.
- Interested in writing for SabreNoise? Shoot me an email at [email protected]