Flames 2012 First Round Targets: Olli Maatta



The other (probable) Finnish born first rounder this year is Olli Maatta. The 6’1", 203 pound defender is already NHL size and is considered a mid-round pick by most outfits. Unlike fellow Finns Teuvo Teravainen and Flames prospect Markus Granlund, Maatta decided to hop the pond and play some of his formative years in the OHL. His five goals and 32-points in 58 games for the London Knights was the highest total for any OHL rookie rearguard this season.

Maatta followed up his decent regular season debut with an eye-popping platoff run. In 19 games, he beat his regular season goal total (6) and added 17 assists for 23 points. Only former first rounder Dougie Hamilton (23 points) and probably top-3 pick Ryan Murray (22 points) were within range of Maatta in the post-season.

Scouting Report

Like with Tervainen, I asked eliteprospects writer Matias Strozyk for his insight on Maatta.

Kent Wilson: Olli is a defender who spent his season in the OHL with the London Knights, but previously grew up and developed in Finland. Was it obvious earlier on that Maatta was a top-end talent?

Matias Strozyk: Määttä surprised many two years ago when he was not only a defenseman who jumped from the U16 league to the 2nd highest level of Finnish hockey but also developed his status from an injury back-up to the backbone of his team’s D. He had great patience, vision and positioned himself well and his size certainly wasn’t a negative factor.

KW: In your description of him on eliteprospects.com, you describe Maatta as good overall, but probably better defensively. Does he project as top-4 guy in the NHL who play in all situations, but won’t necessarily lead the blueline in scoring?

MS: That’s pretty accurate. It’s not that he can’t contribute offensively: Olli has a good shot, gives a smart first pass and is useful on the powerplay. Despite his all-round skill I would still profile him as a defensive leader since he is so secure in the defensive zone and has good hockey sense and size. What you get is a solid all-round defenseman who should be able to come in and take his spot in the NHL after a couple of seasons in the minors.

KW: What would you say is Olli’s biggest strength? Does he have any glaring weaknesses?

MS: He’s a smart player who makes good decisions on the ice. Määttä is not someone you should expect to see in the headlines night after night but does his job well. He has a nice overall package of skills and can contribute to every aspect of the game. He’s not a magical puck-mover nor a simple shutdown defenseman: he makes very few mistakes, is secure at the backend and can make the occasional offensive contribution.

I haven’t seen much of Olli since his move to North America but when he left I considered his biggest weakness to be his skating. I wouldn’t call it bad – his technique was a bit so-so, but it’s difficult for me to say how that has developed during his time with the Knights.

KW: There is a decent chance Olli will be around when Calgary picks at 14. Does he strikes you as a good fit for the Flames?

MS: Määttä is already a solid two-way defenseman with good size and I’m expecting him to turn into a reliable defender. There shouldn’t be too many organizations that won’t have a spot for a player like him and the Flames aren’t an exception. I can’t see him getting called up within the first ten picks so he might well be available for Calgary where Olli can grab a decent role. He’ll need a couple of years for his body to develop but after that he should be a reliable D who can also score a handful of points, on the 2nd powerplay unit for instance, along the way.

Probable Target?

The Flames haven’t gone fishing in the OHL lately, eschewing that league in each of the last three entry drafts. Greg Nemisz and TJ Brodie from 2008 were the Flames latest picks from that corner of the CHL, so it’s hard to know if Calgary has simply forsaken the Ontario Hockey League or just simply haven’t had the opportunity to pick a guy they liked from there in awhile. 

Aside from that, Maatta sounds like a decent mid-round target. He finished off his first season overseas in style, has an NHL ready frame and a solid overall game at both ends of the ice. He’s not as a sexy a pick as some of the other options who might fall to Calgary, but he could be the best one once 14 roles around.

Probability he will be around at 14: Moderate-to-high

Probability the Flames will pick him: Moderate

The Targets List

  • Robert Cleave

    Being a Finn, he still has his compulsory military service to complete at some juncture, and that can only be deferred until age 28, IIRC. Makes me wonder if he might head back to the SM-Liiga for a couple of years. Nice enough player from the limited viewings I had of him at the Memorial Cup, though. He’ll probably make a solid 2nd pairing left D down the line.

  • supra steve

    To say I am somewhat disappointed to miss the playoffs and be looking at a probable 3-4 D man as (potentially) our best bet with our first rounder, well that would be an understatement. I know a 3-4 D man is a valuable asset (to borrow the term from Feaster), but teams that miss the playoffs need to do better with their first rounders, or they can end up missing the playoffs year after year. Sure does suck to be among the “best teams” that missed the playoffs. Worked out well (at the draft) last year though. Let’s hope Button pulls another great pick out of his….hat again this year, as there is bound to be at least one player on his list that falls through the cracks in the first 13 picks.

  • everton fc

    If the Flames keep the 14th pick, this is likely the player that will be their, either him or Ceci. I don’t have a huge problem with either of those players. In fact I like the sound of Ceci more and more. The question that likely comes up this time surrounding this type of player is: Should we take a player who projects to be a very solid top-4? (as in a reliable pick). Or should we take a risk on a guy like Collberg who could possibly have high-end talent that had 0 points in 40-some games. I’d prefer to go with the reliable route.

  • RexLibris

    @everton fc

    There are rumoured to be three teams that are in contention for Schultz. Toronto because of his connection to Gardiner and it was Burke who drafted him (and because it’s Toronto, of course!), Vancouver because he is from Kelowna, and Edmonton because of the young core and availability of minutes on defense.

    Calgary would probably have to trade a 4th round pick (they don’t have a 5th) to get his negotiation rights, and from everything I have read it would be a wasted effort.

    I’m not saying he wouldn’t sign in Calgary, I just don’t think they have the right incentives at this time, he’s an ELC so money is a non-issue.

    Anaheim is rumoured to be building a tampering case against the Leafs if he signs there.

    My guess is he goes to the Leafs. And if it happens I hope they get their hands royally slapped (compensate with a player, forfeit a first round pick in 2013, and pay a hefty fine).

    • everton fc

      the Flames do, in fact, have a 5th round pick. Montreal’s to be precise.

      @everton fc

      Ceci may be “soft” but so is Bouwmeester. If he can play at even strength, out-shoot his opposition, move the puck, and put up points, who cares how “soft” he is?

  • everton fc


    Don’t like soft. That’s just me. And Bouwmeester’s soft and lacking in offence. I’d still take Grigensons over both Ceci and Maatta…

    Niksanen, another right-handed shot, may also be available this summer. To keep off topic, but on the topic of right-handed defenders!

  • RexLibris

    Hey Kent, quick question here:

    If you were Feaster would you take the best player available or would you target a specific type of player that fits the needs of the Flames (I know, there are many)

    • As long as the Flames don’t take any coke machines (guys you draft for size and strength mostly) or goalies, they should be okay because Calgary has organizational needs everywhere.

      BPA is the easiest route to go in theory. The trick is determining who the BPA is in the middle of the first in a draft like this. That is, unless someone like Grigorenko falls…then it’s a no brainer.

  • SmellOfVictory

    If I were Kent and were then Feaster, and there were three players at 14 of presumably equivalent ability (a centre, a winger, and a defenceman), I think the defenceman would be the the first I would choose on a positional basis. It’s the driest of the three within the organization, as far as I can tell.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    Put me in the Steve camp. Finishing out of the playoffs to draft 14th overall for a defensive defenseman would be very disappointing, particularly when the Flames need a lot more highend skill.

    Flames, please draft a skilled forward.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    What are the chances of the Flames trading down and then picking Pouliot at say 17-20? I was listening to Sportsnet 960 this morning and Loubardias was saying that he could see Pouliot being just as good as Rielly Trouba Murray in ‘x’ amount of years simply because the first round this year is so good for defenseman. Any chance of this occuring? I just like what I hear about Pouliot’s awesome offensive abilities, but I don’t know if I’d rather have Maatta’s two-way ability that way Hartley could play him in the defensive zone too.

    • Pouliot has polarized scouts because no one can agree about his defensive game. There are some scouts that think he should be converted to forward.

      In sheer talent he’s (nearly) the equal of Morgan Rielly. His defensive game has led to Marc-Andre Bergeron comparisons.

      To be honest, if the Flames traded down I wouldn’t mind Pouliot, though I think I’d prefer Brady Skjei myself.

      but to answer your actual question, IF the Flames trade down (there’s no better than an even chance they will) there’s a very good possibility they take Pouliot. I imagine they have a very good read on him from scouting Sven last season as well as this season.

  • Stunner

    I had the privelage of watching Maatta play 50+ regular season games and the whole playoff run as I’m a Knights season ticket holder. He’s a defensive stud now and has a great first pass and always seems calm under pressure. Some people might think his offense may not translate to the NHL but he was a revelation in the playoffs and I think he will put up points in the bigs. There were games in the playoffs where he was the Knights best defenseman and he outplayed teammates Scott Harrington & Jared Tinordi (both 1st round picks).
    The only negative is there are times I would like him to use the body more but his defensive positioning and stick work are so good he doesnt have to hit all the time.
    This is definitely a safe pick for the Flames and someone who will definitely play for a long time.