The Toronto Maple Leafs have selected London Knights defenceman Nicolas Mattinen with the 179th overall pick in the 2016 NHL Draft.

After picking just once out of the OHL in their first nine selections, the Maple Leafs have gone with someone very familiar to their draft czar, Mark Hunter, here in Mattinen with their second sixth round pick. Clearly Hunter anticipates a much bigger role for Mattinen next season in London, and who out there would know better/have as direct of a role in making sure that happens?

The right-handed Mattinen was a scratch for a significant chunk of the season on the 2016 Memorial Cup champion Knights, featuring in just 39 games. He put up four goals and ten points over the half season, hinting at some offensive upside to his game.

At 6’4.5 and 220 pounds, Mattinen is the third 6’4-plus defenceman the Toronto Maple Leafs have drafted today following the selections of Keaton Middleton and James Greenway.

Nicolas Mattinen Scouting Report

Courtesy of the 2016 NHL Draft Black Book

Mattinen was selected in the 6th round of the 2014 OHL Priority Selection Draft by the London Knights out of the Eastern Ontario Wild Minor Midget Program. Mattinen spent his 16 year old season with the Cumberland Grads of the CCHL. This first season saw him caught behind a mix of skilled and veteran blueliners which saw him as a healthy scratch in about half of the games this season. He would fill in at forward on occasion.

Mattinen is a big bodied defender with an excellent frame and NHL ready size. He is a physical defender who loves to take the body and crush the opposition. He does a good job of keeping himself a powerful physical opponent while keeping it pretty clean as well. He uses his body and stick well to defend, but he can be a little clumsy at times as his coordination is catching up to his body still. He is a little hit or miss with the puck but is at his best when making simple decisions. Unlike a lot of big physical shutdown defenders, Mattinen has an offensive weapon which can help him contribute at the other end of the ice; a NHL level slap shot. Mattinen is a threat to either score or create a rebound whenever he touches the puck on the offensive blueline. He has a low, powerful blast which has hit the back of the net, but can also be very difficult for goaltenders to control let alone contain and has resulted in second chances in the slot.

Mattinen projects as a simple, physical shutdown defender who needs to keep it simple when looking to pass the puck. He will be able to chip in offensively from the point because that shot will be a weapon at whatever level he plays at. He has intriguing upside and may emerge from this draft as a sleeper as he has great NHL upside, but spent a lot of time in the stands this season, which will change next year.

Mattinen’s production during World Junior Championships

Nicolas Mattinen (2016 eligible, DB rated #200) blew up while Juolevi was away. He improved his PPG rate 545% from .11 to .71PPG. An inference you can make from the #s is that the Knights attack and PP also was distributed more evenly amongst lesser forward talent and involved the D more than usual. In this scenario, Mattinen thrived. Going into the WJC, you were looking at a young, massive D in a depth role who really didn’t get enough ice to clear his status up. Now, it certainly looks like he’s going to take a Martenet kind of rise in the 2nd half.

Nicolas Mattinen Statistics

 2011-12 Upper Canada Cyclones Mn Btm AAA OEMBHL283111438| Playoffs52248
 2012-13 Eastern Ontario Wild Bantam AAA OEBHL2954920| Playoffs51018
 2013-14 Eastern Ontario Wild Mn Mdgt AAA OEMMHL306142024|
 Eastern Ontario Wild Midget AAA OEMHL20224| Playoffs41122
 Cumberland Grads CCHL20000|
 2014-15 Cumberland Grads CCHL534101448|
 2015-16 London Knights OHL394610244| Playoffs51012