2022-23 Team: Sudbury Wolves (OHL)
Date of Birth: Jan. 11, 2005
Place of Birth: Brandon, FL, USA
Ht: 6-foot-1 Wt: 180 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2023 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting: 70th (among NA skaters)
- Future Considerations: 85th
- Peter Baracchini’s Final Rankings: 87th
- Logan Horn’s May Rankings: 79th
- SMAHT Scouting: 56th
- Dobber Prospects Mid- Season Rankings: 59th
When it comes to offensive defensemen in the 2023 NHL Draft, Axel Sandin Pellikka and Mikhail Gulyayev are at the top in terms of players that can drive offense very well. It doesn’t stop there as there are strong puck moving defenders that could be great additions later on in the draft. Sudbury Wolves defender Matthew Mania is one of those names to keep an eye on.
Mania had decent production this season, being the main point producer on the backend for the Wolves. He led all defenders in goals (10), assists (28) and points (38). When it comes to his game, Mania is a high risk, high reward kind of player with his decision making and plays in the offensive zone.
While some might be put off with his ability to make difficult and risky plays, he still manages to execute them with great confidence. He handles pressure very well when he has the puck, as he doesn’t panic and is able to elude it with his long skating stride, finding and identifying the open lanes with ease. He displays strong edges to turn on a dime and evade pressure in tight spaces and or corners. When he generates speed, he’s hard to contain on the breakout as he can quickly join a rush or even lead an attack.
Mania displays great hands for slick moves and dekes at a quick pace. He’s deceptive with his movements to make the opposition make the first move and is unpredictable when he walks the blueline or attacks the middle of the ice. He battles hard along the boards to win puck battles and can quickly move the play towards the net by himself or by making a quick, accurate and timely pass. His head is always up scanning the lanes and connecting with his teammates with long stretch passes for quick and effective movement. When he gets his chance, he isn’t afraid of getting a shot off from the point to get pucks on net efficiently for a shot on goal or second chance opportunity.
Defensively, Mania is still raw when it comes to his play in his own zone and positioning. However, the potential is there for him to make timely breakups on entry into his own zone. He displays a quick and active stick to get into the lane and disrupt passes very well. He needs to work on his one-on-one coverage and show more fight in front of the net, but his play away from the puck is coming together.
Related: 2023 NHL Draft Guide
While he’s known for being an offensive puck mover and distributor, he could be an underrated defender if he continues to put in the work.
Other THW Draft Profiles
Matthew Mania – NHL Draft Projection
If Mania showed a little more consistency overall, he probably would’ve vaulted himself further up the draft rankings. However, given what he has been able to accomplish this season, he’s still in a great draft position. At best it’s very likely that he can hear his name called in the mid to late portion of the third-round, but it’s also possible that he could slide further down. Finding a player like him in the mid to late part of the draft is definitely a great pick up.
“His mobility and handling allow him to solve problems in practical manners and to quickly change angles to access new passing lanes. His defensive game remains a work in progress, and he will likely never be the “shut-down” type, but there have been flashes of defensive progress in his game as the season’s progressed.”– Sebastian High, Dobber Prospects
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“While he’s fluctuated in his distribution metrics, he’s always been an involved player in offensive transitions for a defenseman. His puck skill to be a potential carry-out/carry-in player combined with flashes of deception and vision makes him an intriguing pick as a potential offensive defensemen.”– Austin Garrett, SMAHT Scouting
- Skating and mobility
- Playmaking abilities
- Transitions and breakouts
- Offensive game
Under Construction- Improvements to Make
- Defensive zone coverage
- Raw game, needs time to develop
Mania has the potential to be a very sound and effective puck-moving defenseman. He could very well be as high as a second-pairing defender or worst-case scenario still be used in a depth role. He has a lot to prove to get to that point. Although, it’s hard not to be amazed at his offensive game, as he’ll be a key factor to drive the play from the backend and quarterback a powerplay.
Risk- Reward Analysis
Risk- 4/5, Reward 3/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense- 6.5/10, Defense 5.5/10
Mania was selected 60th overall by the Wolves in the 2021 OHL Priority Selection Draft.