DRAFT PROFILE: Mattias Samuelsson – Size, Skill, Physicality

Mattias Samuelsson

by Matt Smith, Staff Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine

We will continue our look at prospective draft picks for the Montreal Canadiens at the 2018 NHL Entry Draft with Mattias Samuelsson of the U.S. National U18 Team.

Mattias Samuelsson, D, U.S. National 18 Team (USDP) 
March 14, 2000 | Voorhees, New Jersey, USA
6-4, 216 lbs. | Shoots Left | @m__samuelsson
2017-’18: 58 GP, 11 G, 20 A, 31 PTS 

CSB: No. 21 (NA Skaters) | ISS: No. 31 | THN: No. 31| HP: No. 17 | FC: No. 38

His father, Kjell Samuelsson, was selected by the New York Rangers in the sixth round, 119th overall, during the 1984 NHL Draft, playing 813 regular season games and winning a Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1992. He’s now filling a player development role with the Philadelphia Flyers.

Samuelsson was the captain of the USA Under-18 World Championship team, winning a silver medal and has committed to Western Michigan University (NCAA) next season, where he’ll play alongside his brother Lukas. If he chooses an alternative route, his Canadian Hockey League rights are owned by the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League.

Samuelsson is a big defender who is known for his strong play in his own end of the ice, battling hard along the boards, and keeping opposing players away from the front of the net. Physicality is a generous part of Samuelsson’s game, and with his size, it’s easy to see why.

However, physical play is not the only characteristic of his game. Samuelsson is a strong penalty-killer who uses his stick efficiently, blocks shots, but will absolutely crush an opponent if the opportunity presents itself. With 113 penalty minutes, Samuelsson occasionally gets himself into trouble by being overaggressive, but with strong coaching and development at the professional level, he should be able to reduce the number of penalties, while still playing a physical, shut-down game.

For a player that is known to be more of a shut-down, physical defender, his numbers offensively were surprisingly good, scoring 11 goals, adding 20 assists in 58 games. His skating also isn’t below average for a player of his size, permitting him to join the rush, skate out of his zone with possession, or transition back into defensive posture.   

Samuelsson has something you cannot teach, and that is size. He is also a left-handed shooting two-way defender who is difficult to play against, with an underrated offensive game, able to provide physical shut-down type minutes. To an organization like the Montreal Canadiens who could use depth when it comes to left-handed defenders, he could be a steal if he falls into the second round.

Fans of the Canadiens are painfully aware of the substandard 2017-2018 season. However, Marc Bergevin has the opportunity to hit a home run at the upcoming NHL Draft with the third overall selection, as well as four picks in the second round (Montreal, Chicago, Toronto, and Washington).

Moving up one spot via the draft lottery may not seem like a big deal, but it all but guarantees the Montreal Canadiens leave Dallas with either Filip Zadina or Andrei Svechnikov, two players who will likely fill a top-9 position next season. The Habs second round picks should only be traded if it leads to immediate opening day roster improvement, or to acquire another first round selection.

The decision now rests with Trevor Timmins and general manager Marc Bergevin. The 2018 NHL Draft is quickly approaching, let’s hope the Canadiens use their first round pick wisely, as the draft lottery was in their favor.