2016-17 Team: U.S. National U18 Team (#23)
Date of Birth: March 14, 2000
Place of Birth: Voorhees, New Jersey
Ht: 6’4” Wt: 216 lbs.
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2018 first-year eligible
- THW Rankings: 15th
- Future Considerations: 39th
- Bob McKenzie: 24th
- Craig Button: 27th
- Jeff Marek: 31st
His father, Kjell Samuelsson, was drafted in the sixth round of the 1984 NHL Entry Draft, 119th overall, by the New York Rangers and went on to play 813 regular season games in the NHL. And while he takes after his dad in size, strength and positionally, Mattias Samuelsson could be sought after much earlier than his father 24 years later.
While he was drafted by the OHL’s Sarnia Sting in the fourth round of the 2016 OHL Priority Selection, Samuelsson continued his play and development with the U.S. National Team Development Program where he’s played since the 2016-17 campaign.
With the U.S. National U18 Team this season, he tallied 28 points in 49 games to go along with his 105 penalty minutes. He also added another 14 points in 22 games with the USNTDP juniors.
His defensive game stands out more than what he can do on the offensive side of the puck, but he continues to develop on both sides. While he did pick up more than 100 penalty minutes this season, his physical game isn’t one that steps over too many lines when it comes to the rules of the game.
He skates well considering how big he is – at nearly 220 pounds – and doesn’t take a shift off from defending his own end. He’s able to use his strength in puck battles and does a good job blocking out opposing players in one-on-one battles.
As for next year, after originally committing to Michigan University, Samuelsson decommited and decided to join Western Michigan.
While he might not be the top defenceman in the draft, he ability in the defensive end could be an asset that a number of teams target as the first round comes to an end. That said, if he does slip to the early part of the second round, one team could get very lucky with Samuelsson.
Other THW Draft Profiles:
Mattias Samuelsson – NHL Draft Projection
It’ll all depend on how the dominos fall in front of him. If teams jump on the other defensemen in the draft early, Samuelsson could find himself a first-round pick in this year’s draft. That said, there are a number of blue liners that could change that, including London’s Evan Bouchard, Michigan’s Quinn Hughes and, of course, Frolunda’s Rasmus Dahlin. If I had to take a guess, I’m going to say that Samuelsson will likely fall to the second round where he’ll be a steal as a mid-30s pick.
“He utilizes his size as a strength. Defensively he stands out. He understands the role. He plays within his means. He moves well for his size, he doesn’t over-handle the puck. He does know how to utilize his size asset and he does know how to utilize it within the rules. He doesn’t go out of his way to run guys, hit guys. His 1-on-1 game, he makes sure he handles his checks. On the defensive side of the puck he’s responsible with it.” – Dan Marr/NHL Central Scouting
“His numbers offensively have increased quite a bit here in the last couple months. Lot of that is from aggressively gapping and learning how good he can be at it. Because if you have to break the puck out from your own zone, generally speaking that’s tough to go 200 feet and scoring goals. Break up plays in the neutral zone through your defensive gaps and your stick and your backchecking, lots of times those neutral-zone turnovers can transition to odd-man rushes the other way.
What he’s done a really good job of in the last couple months is challenging his gap, his footwork, shutting pucks down in the neutral zone and then transitioning the puck to our forwards and activating into the rush.
You ask forwards in the USHL, they certainly know how physical he is. He’s a physical player, he’s hard to play against. He’s not a defenceman that goes for a big hit at the expense of making the right play. He just gets into you and lets you know you’re going against him when the time is right.
Mattias Samuelsson is going to be a top-three defenceman on some NHL team for the next 15-plus years. He’s going to eat minutes, he’s going to help you win and he’s going to be miserable to play against.” – Seth Appert/U.S. National Team Development Program
- Size and strength
- Closes off the gaps defensively
- Physical specimen, hard to play against
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
- Develop offensive game
- Skating ability
If the career his father had is any indication of what Samuelsson is capable of on the defensive end, he could very well slot in as a top-four defenceman as his career develops. That said, he would surely solidify a spot within a team’s top two pairs if he can take a few more steps in developing his offensive game.
Risk – 3.5/5, Reward – 4.5/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offence – 6.5/10, Defence – 8.5/10
While it isn’t much to go off of, he did win a gold medal at the Youth Olympic Games in 2015-16 as the captain of the U.S. U16 team. During the tournament, he tallied two assists in six games for the Americans.
Andrew is in his 8th year reporting for The Hockey Writers covering the Toronto Maple Leafs. He began his broadcasting with CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada team as well as being part of their coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. He’s the former play-by-play voice of the London Jr. Knights for Rogers TV and currently hosts the Sticks in the 6ix podcast. You can follow him on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes.