Not a lot of Calgary Flames fans seem to have a handle on Adam Ollas Mattsson. That’s a bit of a shame, as the 20-year-old Swedish defender has quietly put together a pretty decent couple of seasons.
Originally drafted by the Flames in the sixth round of the 2014 NHL Draft as a gigantic project player, he’s established himself as a pretty reliable defensive player in a pretty good pro league.
Last season, Ollas Mattsson faced an uphill battle as a teenager trying to get a regular spot in the line-up for Djurgardens IF in the Swedish Hockey League. He eventually did get that regular spot. He began the 2015-16 season in the unique position of being a junior-aged player with a pro roster spot to defend.
He also, by nature of his unique position, bounced around all over the place early on.
He began the season with Team Sweden for the 4 Nations under-20 tournament in Russia. Then he rushed back to Sweden for a couple Champions League games and the beginning of the SHL regular season. He then left again in November to head to Finland for another Team Sweden 4 Nations tournament, then came back to finish the pre-Christmas portion of the season. His performances at the pair of U20 tournaments earned him a spot at World Junior camp and then the World Juniors. However, he suffered a bone fracture in his lower body on Jan. 2 and his season was derailed.
He returned on March 24 for the final Djurgardens playoff game (a loss) after missing the better part of three months, and then headed to their junior team for their playoffs.
Overall, Ollas Mattsson played 14 games for Team Sweden (one goal, one assist), five games for Djurgardens in the Champions League (one goal, one assist), 23 games for Djurgarden in the SHL (one goal, three assists) and three games for Djurgardens in the J20 league (three assists). Despite missing a bunch of time, he still played a ton of hockey.
IMPACT ON TEAM
As one of the youngest players on his team, Ollas Mattsson basically got the scraps in terms of ice team and deployments – particularly considering the limited offensive upside he has.
Defensively, Ollas Mattsson continues to be most noticeable along the
boards. If a player goes behind the net or is off to the side, chances
are, he’s not getting beyond that. Ollas Mattsson almost takes on a
“gentle giant” role in this sense, as he uses his big frame to pin them in a place they’re completely nonthreatening, usually until he either
strips the puck from them or, in the more likely scenario, they try to
throw the puck out to a teammate and one of Ollas Mattsson’s often picks
it up instead.
Big, rangy and with a long reach, he’s basically what the Flames hope Keegan Kanzig eventually becomes. And since he’s just 20 and plays professionally already, he could become more.
WHAT COMES NEXT?
Ollas Mattsson’s contract with Djurgardens expires after the 2016-17 season, at which point the Flames will have a decision to make regarding whether they want to lure him over to North America or not. Until then, Ollas Mattsson will remain a pretty effective stay-at-home defender in a pretty damn good pro league.
The Flames retain his North American rights until June 1, 2018, so both sides have some flexibility.