To say that hockey is in the bloodline for right-handed defenceman Mattias Hävelid is an understatement. While his twin brother Hugo will wait just as eagerly for his name to be called on July 8, their father, Niclas, and uncle, Magnus, will surely surround the teenagers, offering them advice while making efforts to calm the boys down in their anticipation.
Birthplace: Täby, Sweden
Date of birth: January 1, 2004
Weight: 172 lbs.
Team: Linköping HC (SHL)
Niclas participated in 660 NHL games over an almost decade-long span back in the day, after being selected in the third round of the 1999 NHL Draft by the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim (Holy nostalgia, Batman!). He also played for the Atlanta Thrashers (Holy Bettman, Batman!) and the New Jersey Devils before returning back home and finishing his career off in Linköping.
Meanwhile, Magnus never reached his brother’s heights as a player, but has compensated later on by becoming a trusted and sought-after coach. Starting next winter, Magnus will replace Tomas Montén as the next head coach for the older of Sweden’s national Junior teams after showing impressive results with the under-18s. Just this spring, he won the World Under-18 Championship for Sweden, with his two nephews serving as the backbone of his lineup.
Both brothers in the second generation of Hävelids received high praise after the tournament. Hugo was awarded the prize for Best Goaltender as well as receiving a spot on the all-star team (unsurprising when you consider he saved 47 shots in the final against Team USA). He was also the only goaltender to eclipse the .900 mark in save percentage.
While Hugo was busy using his slender frame to cover his own net, Mattias was lighting it up in the offensive zone. Hävelid the outfielder ended up as the second-leading scorer in the entire tournament, beaten to the title only by teammate Jonathan Lekkerimäki. For reference, Mattias’s 12 points in six games were better than presumptive top-three selection Logan Cooley (10 points), and other top forward-prospects Frank Nazar (nine), Rutger McGroarty (nine), Noah Östlund (10), Cutter Gauthier (nine) and phenom Connor Bedard (seven).
The question is not whether Mattias Hävelid is a talented young player, but why he isn’t getting more hype ahead of the 2022 NHL Draft.
Playing for Linköping’s under-20 team as well as in the SHL this year, the Stockholm-born prospect had a relatively quiet start to the season. In fact, his first year of senior hockey ended with him still awaiting his first point, something which, shielded role or not, is not ideal if you’re seen as an offence-first type of defenceman.
Much like in the U18s though, Hävelid found his stride toward the end of the year and was named the MVP of the J20 SuperElit’s playoffs. This came after he guided Linköping’s under-20 squad to the title with 10 points in eight games, three of them assists in the final against reigning champs Djurgården.
Elite Prospects: #26
Bob McKenzie (TSN): #38
NHL Central Scouting: #19 (European Skaters)
Corey Pronman (The Athletic) #49
Scott Wheeler (The Athletic): #41
As is often the case, the main concern people seem to have with Hävelid is his size, or rather his lack thereof. Currently standing at 5’10” and a mere 170-something pounds, he is by no means a Karl Alzner replica. Instead, the blue-liner’s play revolves a lot around speed, skill, and hockey sense.
If this were 10 years ago, he would probably have received a do-not-draft designation from many teams due to the lack of precedence from smaller skilled defencemen making it to the NHL. But how will it be in 2022? After all, this is the year when Cale Makar recently took a grand slam with a Stanley Cup, a Conn Smythe, and a Norris Trophy. Maybe we are now entering an era where undersized defencemen finally see a visible path not only into an NHL lineup but to actually being impactful as well.
As an interesting sidenote in the everlasting small versus big debate, Hävelid was left off the 2022 World Under-18 Championship All-Star Team in favour of an even slighter defence prospect, USA’s Lane Hutson (5’8”, 159 lbs.).
Hävelid is not an elite skater, which is another thing that could work against his draft status. Depending on which reports you look at, he is seen as either an average or an above-average NHL skater at this point in time. A positive silver lining is that he seems to have developed his stride and become faster in the last year, so maybe the best is yet to come.
He holds his zone well and defends as if he were a bigger boy. His competitive level is high and most times that works in his favour. It can at times, however, make him overwork certain situations, both in the defensive and offensive zone, which can lead to frustration from both himself and those around him. He wants to be a difference maker when on the ice, sometimes to the detriment of his team.
An otherwise talented playmaker, he can sometimes get too focused on using his high-level shot to help his team get in front. If coaches and a development-driven front office can iron out his decision-making, thus make the blue-liner realize that he doesn’t have to do everything himself, he can position himself as a potential game-breaking threat on the power play.
If he can bulk up while getting coached on his decision-making by Linköping and his experienced family, Mattias Hävelid has potential to turn into an intriguing NHL role player a few years down the line.