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Prospect Files: Matt Finn

This draft class is so deep on the blue line that it might seem like all I do is talk about defensemen. Not true, check back in the blog and you will see Nail Yakupov and Alex Galchenyuk….and a bunch of other defenseman. Okay, I admit it…I have written about a lot of defenders, but few have as much upside as this kid. The Guelph Storm fans know him, some OHL fans know him and soon, everyone is going to know him. Let’s take a look at Matt Finn.

The Line:

Height: 6’0”
Weight: 197 lbs
Shoots: Left
Position: Defense
Draft Eligible: 2012

After being taken 12th overall in the 2010 OHL priority selection by the Guelph Storm, the former Toronto Marlboro minor midget talent was looked upon to contribute right away on a club that was starved for talent on the blue line. Matt Finn is making the Guelph Storm fans think that these kids grow on trees, first Ryan Parent then Drew Doubty and now, Matt Finn, other teams in the O would kill for that.  

In 2010/2011 Matt had 21 points in 60 games; very respectable for a rookie 16 year-old defenseman in the tough Ontario Hockey League. This year, through 39 games, he has 30 points and is logging 22+ minutes a night against the other team’s top lines.

Now you are probably thinking, “all of this is great but why is he a top pick?” and it really is simple when you watch him play. He plays as mistake-free of a game as I have ever seen in a 17 year-old. He has a very high panic-tolerance and it allows him to stay calm and make the right play when he is being pressured. The game is slow for him. He sees the ice very well and has an extremely high hockey IQ. He will jump into plays and has some finish , as his 6 goals will show, but he also rarely gets caught on a bad pinch or with a bad pass up the middle.

Last season he seemed to struggle with the pace of the game at times, many suggesting he wasn’t in good enough shape to play big minutes at this level. There are certainly no issues with that this year. His shot is average and needs some working on but is good for this level. His skating is phenomenal, and when he cranks it up circling back into his own zone, he seems to gain the opposing blue line with ease.

This largest transformation in his game from last season to this season is easily his defensive zone coverage. He has figured out some of the tricks of the trade, in how he can control guys without taking a penalty and fast routes to cut players off, but he really seems to have a knack for keeping guys to the outside and this is a skill set that transfers over easily as he moves up the ranks and into the pro game. He can also play the physical game if he has to, and let’s face it, you have to every night in the Western Conference of the OHL, but that does not define him. You will see what I mean in the player comparison below.

I think Matt Finn is still being underrated by scouts to this day. There is a lot of talk about the big 5 in the Western Hockey League and guys like Slater Koekkoek and Olli Maata in the O, but I think Matt can be a better pro than almost all of them. In my opinion, he should be in the same discussion as Matt Dumba, Jacob Trouba and Ryan Murray. Not saying he is better, but I think he could be in that discussion and I think he may jump in there as the season progresses. Look for Matt to not be sitting in his seat long, at the consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh come June.

NHL Player Comparison:  Nik Lidstrom (This is a comparison of playing style. Not saying Matt Finn will be a hall of famer)

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