2020-21 Team: Ottawa 67’s
Date of Birth: April 8, 2003
Place of Birth: Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario
Ht: 6-foot-4 Wt: 205 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2021 first-year eligible
The Ottawa 67’s spent their first-round pick in 2019 on Jack Matier, a big defenceman out of the Soo Thunderbirds program. Immediately, he was thrown into the fire and proved that he was more than capable of meeting the challenge head-on. Very quickly, Matier started getting minutes on the top pair with Noel Hoefenmayer and playing in crucial situations, thriving in every moment of it.
Eyes often draw to flashy plays, goals, or generally impressive things on the offensive side of the ice, but Matier wouldn’t be much without his play in the defensive zone. His playing style could be described as a stay-at-home or defensive defenceman, and while they have been becoming less and less common in the NHL, there is still a role for them in today’s game.
Related: THW 2021 NHL Draft Guide
The defensive side of the ice is the most important zone for Matier, and you will very rarely, if ever, see him risk an odd-man rush to make a play at the blue line. He won’t venture too far off the blue line while in the offensive zone if he doesn’t need to, and he routinely makes the safe play to keep himself and his team out of danger. When a rush does happen, Matier defends with his body between the puck and the net, forcing the attacker to the outside of the ice, minimizing danger.
Everything that Matier does is meant to protect the defensive zone and the front of the net in particular. His ability to play top-pair minutes in his rookie season and shut down some top talent around the OHL speaks volumes about his defensive potential, but what is holding him back are the other aspects of his game. Offensively, he’s very cautious and doesn’t like to get too involved, but going forward, he needs to find a way to be responsible for the defensive end and help out offensively at the same time. He’s never going to be like Erik Karlsson or Adam Fox, but he could be more important offensively.
His skating could also be a little bit better, but one thing that Matier has going for him is his positioning. He knows where he needs to be and keeps himself in a good position at all times, meaning that he doesn’t have to have amazing top-end speed to be effective. If he develops some more speed, however, it could allow him to open things up in the offensive end and become a more complete player.
When scouts ask themselves if Matier is worth a draft choice in the mid to late rounds of the draft, the answer should be yes. You can work on all of the things he needs to work on, but he has the hockey IQ and defensive know-how that teams need to be successful. The Montreal Canadiens are in the Stanley Cup Final for a reason, and it has a lot to do with their ability to stop the other team from scoring when it matters.
Other THW Draft Profiles
Jack Matier – NHL Draft Projection
After an outstanding rookie season with the 67’s, I was fully confident that Matier would rise in people’s rankings when the OHL eventually got back on the ice for the 2020-21 season, but that didn’t end up happening. As a result, he didn’t have a chance to prove to people he could be drafted in the first three rounds, even though the talent is there. Picking Matier in the late rounds could be a real bang for your buck pick when we look back on it 10 years from now.
“Matier’s mobile, and occasionally explosive and cunning. The puck skills come and go, but the mindset’s all about making controlled transition players. If he’s improved despite the lack of game reps, his stock could take off.” – Mitch Brown, Elite Prospects
“Matier displays good positioning. When his defensive partner switches sides with Matier behind the red line, Matier who traditionally plays on the right side, stays to the left side of the net to keep watch in case something comes up and the puck wanders towards the left side of the net.” Josh Tessler, SMAHT Hockey
- Defensive zone play
- In the right position more often than not
- Makes the safe play and stays out of danger
- Penalty killing
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
- Making an impact offensively
With Matier likely going off the board somewhere in the fourth round or later, the risk factor isn’t really there. Expectations for players taken at that stage in the draft are hit and miss, but Matier has a chance to handsomely exceed them and be an impact player on an NHL for years to come. While the game has shifted away from the shut-down defenceman, there is still a place for them in today’s NHL. If he can add some tools to his game, someone will find a spot for someone as defensively responsible as he is.
Risk – 2/5, Reward – 4/5
The Matier family is no stranger to winning tournaments and championships. Mark Matier, Jack’s father, was a Memorial Cup champion with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in 1992-93. Mark was also a seventh-round draft choice of the Washington Capitals in 1992. As for Jack Matier, the accolades are still to come, but he does have a gold medal from the 2021 U18 Championship tucked under his belt.
Jack Matier Statistics
Currently a journalism student at Algonquin College in Ottawa, I have always had a passion for the OHL and the Ottawa 67’s in particular. I have been attending games since I was young, and being involved with sports has always been a dream of mine. Sports writing fits perfectly into that. You can also find me talking and writing other sports (primarily Canadian football) on my website 13thmansports.ca!