A monster defenceman named Samuelsson?
We’ve seen this before. Mattias Samuelsson is the son of former Philadelphia Flyer Kjell Samuelsson, and he is the nephew of Ulf Samuelsson. If he plays anything like those two did—and scouting reports indicate he does—NHLers will fear this player down the line.
Samuelsson already has an NHL frame, an NHL shot, and an NHL skating stride. He’s committed to play NCAA hockey for Western Michigan next season, but it’s just a matter of time before he’s patrolling the blue line for some fortunate NHL team.
The expectation is that he’ll be a mid-to-late first rounder in the 2018 NHL Draft. Here’s everything you need to know about Mattias Samuelsson.
From: Vorhees, N.J.
Weight: 218 pounds
A BORN LEADER
It’s an incredible accomplishment to be among the few named to the U.S. National Team, it’s another entirely to be named its captain.
It’s a role Samuelsson has treasured as he’s developed alongside several gifted players in the U.S. National Development Program.
“It’s awesome,” Samuelsson said to USAHockeyNTDP.com. “To know that you play for the U.S. National Team and play with the best 22 players in the country in your age and you are looked at as a leader on the team and respected by the guys. It’s definitely humbling. It won’t change my game at all. It’s nice to have, but I still need to play my game, whether I’m wearing it or not.”
A STALWART DEFENCEMAN
At Samuelsson’s size, there aren’t too many players his age who can compete with him physically.
He uses that big body to throw his weight around the defensive zone, but he plays with good control and is known for being well-positioned.
“Defensively he stands out,” says NHL Central Scouting director Dan Marr. “He understands the role. He plays within his means. He moves well for his size, he doesn’t over-handle the puck. He does know how to utilize his size asset and he does know how to utilize it within the rules. He doesn’t go out of his way to run guys, hit guys. His 1-on-1 game, he makes sure he handles his checks. On the defensive side of the puck he’s responsible with it.”
It may not be what Samuelsson is known for, but it’s commonly believed he has untapped offensive potential.
He started to show it around December of this season.
“His numbers offensively have increased quite a bit here in the last couple months,” NTDP coach Seth Appert told NHL.com in February. “Lot of that is from aggressively gapping and learning how good he can be at it. Because if you have to break the puck out from your own zone, generally speaking that’s tough to go 200 feet and scoring goals. Break up plays in neutral zone through your defensive gaps and your stick and your backchecking, lots of times those neutral-zone turnovers can transition to odd-man rushes the other way.
“What he’s done a really good job of in the last couple months is challenging his gap, his footwork, shutting pucks down in the neutral zone and then transitioning the puck to our forwards and activating into the rush.”
Samuelsson finished the season with 14 points in 23 USHL games and 11 goals and 31 points in 58 games with the USNTDP team.
SPECIAL BOND WITH DAD
Kjell Samuelsson played 13 NHL seasons.
Most of them were spent in Philadelphia, where he just completed his fifth season as a development coach with the Flyers.
“We have father/son talks like any other relationship, but there’s other times where it’s business and he’ll act like I’m one of his players, tell me what I’m doing wrong or what I need to do better,” Mattias said to NHL.com’s Adam Kimmelman in February. “I know it’s out of pure love so I don’t take offence by any of it. I know it’s good for my career.”
What type of advice does Kjell give Mattias?
“He always tells me to stick up for myself,” Mattias said. “It is probably the one thing he preaches the most. He works in the NHL, but he doesn’t try to coach me. He is a very supportive dad and he knows I’m a little feisty.”
HE WANTS TO EMULATE HEDMAN
Samuelsson told Kimmelman that the player he wants to be most like is Tampa Bay Lightning defenceman Victor Hedman.
“He’s a big, mobile guy, a two-way guy, he was up for the Norris Trophy,” Samuelsson said. “He’s a great defenceman. If I can take anything from his game and put it in mine, it’s to my advantage.”