2021-22 Team: Guelph Storm (OHL)
Date of Birth: March 10, 2004
Place of Birth: Brooklin, ON, CAN
Ht: 5-foot-11 Wt: 172 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2021 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting: 45th (amongst NA skaters)
- FC Hockey: 43rd
- TSN/Bob McKenzie: 41st
- TSN/Craig Button: 88th
- Dobber Prospects: 44th
- Smaht Scouting: HM
- Andrew Forbes’ March Rankings: 41st
- Matthew Zator’s April Rankings: 43rd
- Peter Baracchini’s May Rankings: 60th
- Draft Prospects Hockey: 55th
The Ontario Hockey League’s (OHL) Guelph Storm drafted Matthew Poitras 12th overall in the 2020 Priority Selection after their season, and defense of their 2018-19 Robertson Cup title, was shut down due to COVID-19. He may not be the most explosive player, but he has the skill to provide middle-six playmaking and power-play ability to whoever drafts him.
Related: THW 2022 NHL Draft Guide
Coaches at any level will love his work ethic. He has a “won’t be outworked” mentality that will translate to both ends of the ice. That mentality couples with the two-way awareness that gives him strong anticipation defensively and allows him to use his stick to break up plays and intercept passes.
That strong stick helps him win puck battles and tie up opponents, despite being sub-6-foot. His balance and low center of gravity allow him to absorb contact which helps as he regularly is in on the forecheck. He is aware of his lack of explosiveness (more on that later) and makes the adjustment to a dump and chase to get his team into the zone.
He has a high hockey IQ and the vision to allow his playmaking game to flourish. He utilizes a variety of pass types to find his teammates’ tape and is very strong in the smaller areas of the ice. He manages the puck well, and his puck control allows him to read the ice and make a smart play. He’s able to exploit his own patience to succeed.
When it comes to skating, one of Poitras’s best assets is his lateral agility and foot speed. He finds strength in his elusiveness with quick cuts away from a check, and is very strong on his edges. One of his biggest limitations is the explosiveness to separate from back checkers and drive into the zone himself, meaning he won’t often be the one to transition play from his end to the offensive zone. While he can attack through the middle when the opportunity presents itself, he tends to stick the outside.
His superb playmaking ability has him leaning towards being more of a pass-first player, and he doesn’t showcase his shooting ability. Poitras could benefit from shooting the puck more, even if it’s a shot-pass to generate rebound opportunities for his teammates in front. Despite having scored over 20 goals this season, he’s lower on the Storm’s charts regarding shots on goal.
Other THW Draft Profiles
Matthew Poitras – NHL Draft Projection
It’s interesting to consider where Poitras will be selected this draft. His rankings have fluctuated a lot this season, having been ranked anywhere from the late-first round to the late-second round. It’s fair to think that his lack of separation speed is something holding him back.
However, any team looking for a hardworking two-way center with strong playmaking ability should take a stab at him. He really shouldn’t be on the board past the mid-second round; at the latest, the early third. A strong end to the regular season and four points in five playoff games could help raise his draft stock.
In addition, he was one of two players from the OHL ranked as an A-prospect on the NHL Central Scouting 21-22 Preliminary Players To Watch List, which projects a prospect to be a first-round candidate. The other is Kingston Frontenacs forward Shane Wright.
“Poitras is a strong offensive player. He challenged much better when in the offensive zone and presented a good net-front presence. He showed better puckhandling, control and showed pretty good vision. Poitras also had much better hustle and was able to set his linemates up really well. I noticed there were often times where he didn’t really get in the mix and held back a little… I think based off this view Poitras could be a late third round pick.” – from Jan. 20, 2022 Scouting Report on Matthew Poitras by Olivia McArter, FC Hockey
“Although the numbers won’t wow you, Poitras is a prospect that you do not want to miss. He is incredibly hard working with a well-rounded skill set that he utilizes effectively in all three zones of the ice. Defensively, his work ethic matched with his high-level knowledge of the game allow him to anticipate opponent’s decisions and force turnovers… It is somewhat challenging to project if Poitras is going to end up being a star at the next level, but his complete set of tools and work ethic make it easy to see him as a sure fire NHLer with lots of two-way upside.” – Jacob Barker, Dobber Prospects
“What you get in Matthew Poitras is a competitive small-ice player with strong puck retrieval skills and compete level in the greasy areas. When he gets the puck, his ability to create and produce is blended nicely together by patience, playmaking vision, quick decisive puck handles, and accurate execution in his puck distributing… I can see him as a complementary winger in a top nine role someday. He’s developed into one of the nicer 2022 NHL draft prospects that showcases a solid pro-minded game and I’d expect to hear his name called before the end of the second round.” – Jared Brown, Draft Prospects Hockey
- Work ethic
- Hockey IQ and two-way awareness
- Playing under physical pressure
- Elusive skating
Under Construction – Improvements to Make
- Defensive positioning and consistency
- Aggression through middle of ice
Poitras could turn into a good middle-six center in the NHL. He has the playmaking ability and elusiveness to compete against players bigger than him. In addition, his hockey IQ and vision will be valuable on both sides of the puck and make him beneficial to a team’s special teams units, specifically the power play. An NHL comparison could be Florida Panthers forward Claude Giroux.
This could be especially true should Poitras’ faceoff numbers improve. Giroux has been a gifted passer and power play option his whole career, and the two are a similar size. He’s tallied over 620 assists in over 1,000 games thus far in his career. That includes 68 assists in the 2017-18 season where he scored 102 points.
Risk – 3/5, Reward – 4/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense – 8/10, Defense – 6/10
Poitras was named the OHL’s Midwest Division’s Academic Player of the Month in December, 2021, as he held a 97 average.
“Matthew’s outstanding dedication to his academic studies and his exceptional work ethic have continued this year. He has repeatedly been described as a ‘top student’ impressing his teachers with his mature approach to learning, his outstanding work habits and strong participation in class.” – Storm academic advisor Colleen Driscoll.
Sean Raggio lives for hockey. He will be covering the Seattle Kraken, and is a co-host of “What’s Kraken” for THW. Sean gained experience in writing for television, print and radio while studying journalism at Quinnipiac University and being an active member in the student media organizations there. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to reach out on Twitter! A link can be found at the bottom of his articles, such as this one.