As a little kid, I used to tell people I could do the splits. That's what it looked like.
Yesterday, we gave some insight into the strengths and weaknesses of Barrie's Tanner Pearson. He is a player who will go later than fifteen, and for him to fall onto the Senators' laps, they would have to either trade down in the first, or move up from their two third round selections (the conditional pick courtesy of the Mike Fisher deal and the Predators' subsequent Conference semi-finals appearance). Pearson is a left winger- one of the remaining deficiencies in the Sens' organizational depth.
Today, we will look at a player who could fill another slight void, but who will quite possibly be off the board by the fifteenth pick. The Senators would potentially have to move up to draft this Scandinavian-born defensemen (someone was going to go there in the comments... probably). Olli Maatta is not the top-ranked defenseman in this defense-heavy draft. He falls behind Ryan Murray, Rielly Morgan, and Ottawa's Cody Ceci, but is holding down the eighth spot in North American skaters, ranked by Central Scouting. Maatta is the frontrunner among a run of defensemen that includes Griffin Reinhart and Matthew Dumba, among others. Where these defenders end up falling is anyone's guess (the Murray/Dorion draft team might have a better idea), but different mocks have them going in any variety of order, with Matthew Dumba often leading the charge, perhaps in the fourth or sixth spot. Conjecture! For insight on the player and how he would fit as a Senator, follow me after the jump. Don't worry, it's not a real jump. You just have to click.
Maatta is an excellent defender with two-way ability. His offensive skills are left slightly wanting, but as he has shown this year in London, he can put in offensively when put in the right position. He was a point-per-game player earlier in his He has good size, coming in at a shade under two hundred pounds and 6'2. The word on Maatta, courtesy of this breakdown from 'myNHLdraft' is that he is not a big hitter- he doesn't drop players at centre ice. However, he does use his physical ability to separate forwards from the puck when necessary, and has the speed and skating ability to contain forwards to the outside.
Scouts and fans will have an extra opportunity to see Maatta over the next few weeks, since the Knights are headed to the Memorial Cup. Buzzing the Net's Kelly Friesen made mention of Maatta's style in an article yesterday, making particular note of his presence away from the puck. Prospect reports, including one from the team over at The Cannon describe a player growing into the mould of a good shutdown defender with the ability to move the puck well at the professional level.
As a Senator:
After dealing away David Rundblad in pursuit of securing a second-line pivot, the Senators exposed a relative dearth of defensive talent. Masked effectively by a Norris candidate and
Jerry Seinfeld rookie Jared Cowen, the Senators lack in projectable second pairing defensemen. Eric Gryba and Mark Borowiecki can play in depth roles, but are far from 3/4 roles. While Patrick Wiercioch plays the two-way style important in a second pairing defender, his development thus far has yet to show much promise. A player like Olli Maatta would be a good projectionable asset for the Senators and really, this is the kind of defenseman the Sens are likely in the market for: strong away from the puck, but competent on it as well. Still, this is a defense-heavy first round. Making a move for a player like this is, as you'll find out from the profiles we offer over the next few weeks, pretty unnecessary. But what think you?