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2018 NHL Draft prospect profile: Mattias Samuelsson combines old-school physicality with modern puck skills

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The USNTDP defenceman is a jack of all trades who will pique the interest of many NHL teams.

CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game Photo by Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images

Mattias Samuelsson is a big two-way defender. That combination of words should make him very attractive for a lot of NHL teams.

Birthplace: Voorhees, New Jersey
Date of birth: March 14, 2000
Shoots: Left
Position: Defence
Height: 6'4
Weight: 216 lbs.
Team: USNTDP

He is capable of good offensive production. His 31 points in 58 games were behind only fellow 2018 draft-eligible Bode Wilde for the lead on the United States National Team Development Program. Samuelsson was also utilized for some big minutes both at even strength and on the penalty kill.

Image credit: EliteProspects

At 6'4” and 216 pounds, he can make his presence felt on the ice, and he doesn't refrain from using physicality in his defensive game. He can box out players from the front of the net easily, or plaster opposing forwards against the boards while battling down low or while defending off the rush.

He doesn't go looking for a hit when it would take him out of position, but still uses his strength to his advantage to make life easier for his teammates in the defensive zone. This season he could separate opponents from the puck and even take them out of the play to allow the speedy forwards of the USNTDP to sweep in and create quick zone exits. He also uses his great reach to achieve the same goal.

Samuelsson wears #23 with the USNTDP.

Samuelsson could work on his anticipation to further solidify his defensive game, but the tools he has shown this season still make him both a dangerous and effective defender.

His skating shouldn't be underestimated, even if it is something that will have to improve as he reaches more competitive levels. He doesn't stand out in any areas (speed, acceleration, or agility), but plays to his strengths and generally has no problem breaking up rushes.

Even if Samuelsson has an aura of the old-time defenceman in his game with his size and physicality, his ability with the puck contrasts with this image. He is an effective offensive defenceman with a great shot.

He won't come blazing down the wing to get into the offensive end, but he still does his fair share of carrying the puck through the neutral zone. He can capitalize on the turnovers of the opposing team to create offence the other way for his team, getting across the offensive blue line with his flair and stickhandling abilities. Once he is in, he can make some scoring chances happen by locating his teammates in the slot.

He remains more of a shooter than a passer in the offensive zone. He can release in different ways and can be a threatening force from the point. He is precise and powerful with his wrist shots, knows how to get the puck through traffic, and will constantly move up in the offensive zone to get a better chance at beating a goalie by shooting from the top of the circles.

Rankings (not all rankings are final)

Future Considerations: #38
NHL Central Scouting: #21 (North American skaters)
ISS Hockey: #31
McKeen's Hockey: #25
Hockey Prospect: #17

Thoughts

Despite the fact that Samuelsson can be a good contributor to both the offensive and defensive play, he seems ranked a bit high on most scouting services lists to me.

I would look at him from the middle of the second round onward as there should be more skilled prospects to pick up before considering the big defenceman. He has some areas to work on, notably his skating, and isn't a player that pushes the transitions of a team or the pace of the game with quick decisions when he has possession.

Still, he could represent an interesting player to take on and watch develop as he goes through the NCAA system. He is committed to Western Michigan University for the 2018-19 season, and it's likely that he has the tools and the maturity to become a staple on their blue line as soon as next season.