"He is mature beyond his years, and has excellent hockey IQ, as well as an outstanding work ethic."
--Future Consideration's Dan Sallows on Matt Finn
Matt Finn has made a bigger jump than any of his 2012 NHL Draft classmates. The defenseman from Toronto found a home on Guelph's top pairing and became the go-to guy in every situation for the Storm. He flew up the Consensus 100, moving from 98th in October to 16th in the latest rankings. Finn is one of a bevy of talented defensemen expected to go in the first round in June and currently ranks 7th amongst all defensemen. If you're a fan of the Calgary Flames, Ottawa Senators, Washington Capitals, San Jose Sharks or Chicago Blackhawks, he's a player to keep an eye on.
For a more in-depth background on the surefire first round selection, I spoke with The Scouting Report's Managing Editor Scott Campbell.
Copper & Blue: In the consensus rankings, there are three defensemen who've separated themselves - Ryan Murray, Matthew Dumba, Morgan Rielly - then one just in behind them - Jacob Trouba - then a group of three in Griffin Reinhart, Cody Ceci and Matt Finn. Where do you have Finn ranked?
Scott Campbell, The Scouting Report: It looks like we’ll have Finn as a Top 25 player, which is a little down from where we had him in our mid-terms at 17.
C & B: I've yet to see Finn play live. Describe his style of play.
TSR: He’s an all-around guy who gives you a little bit of everything. He’s not overly big or imposing, but he’s very competitive and is not afraid to engage physically. Very capable puck mover who does a good job finding lanes and advancing the puck. His offensive game developed nicely this year and he proved to be a guy that Scott Walker was comfortable in using in all situations.
C & B: Finn has come from way back (#98 in October) to move into the top half of the first round. How?
TSR: I think he’s always been underrated even back to Minor Midget when he was with the Marlies. He’s not overly big and there’s not a ton about his game that is going to overwhelm you, but he’s just a real solid all-around guy who always seems to find a way to make an impact. I think the boost in offensive numbers definitely helped him, but I really like Finn’s spirit and he is usually a guy that you know is going to give you 100% effort every game.
C & B: Finn isn't a big defenseman - how does he handle larger players?
TSR: He’s very willing to take the body and likes to mix it up. At the OHL level, he doesn’t have to worry about this, but it’s something he’ll have to learn as he transitions to the next level. I expect Finn to play within his means a little more and rely more on taking the right angles and effective positioning when engaging against bigger forwards in defensive zone coverage.
C & B: Does he have any NHL-level skills right now?
TSR: No, he still needs a couple more years in the OHL and will need a year in the AHL after that I think. I don’t really see him being able to play at the NHL level until 2014 at the earliest, and whoever takes him should be making sure that they aren’t rushing him as he’s going to need some time in the AHL to adjust to the pro game.
C & B: In your mind, what is the biggest deficiency in Finn's game, what holds him back from joining the group ranked above him?
TSR: Probably a combination of size and a lack of dynamic skating ability. I feel like he competes well and brings a lot of good things to the table, but those two areas probably are holding him back from being in the group with the elite defense in this draft.
C & B: IFinn is currently ranked above Olli Määttä on the consensus list, but you've seen plenty of both players - who do you like better?
TSR: I like Maatta better as I feel like his game is going to translate very well to the NHL and even if his offense is never a factor, he’s a great defensive defenseman who will enjoy a long career on that skill-set alone. Finn is a little bit more of an unknown commodity, and you could argue he might have a higher ceiling. If everything goes perfect, you could be getting a Dan Boyle type player with Finn, but I think I’d prefer to go with Maatta because you’re a little more sure of what you’re getting and the upside is still there.
C & B: Which professional defender does Finn remind you of?
TSR: Building off the last question, I would probably say he reminds me a bit of Dan Boyle. Both guys aren’t overly big, but they seem to always be in the play and making the best of the skill-set they have. I like how Finn doesn’t really back down from anyone and has really begun to show some strong offensive prowess and if he’s able to develop into that style of player there’s no doubt that he’ll enjoy a strong NHL career.
C & B: Right now, Finn is ranked in a spot that makes it likely that Calgary, Ottawa, Washington, San Jose, or Chicago would take him. Which of those organizations would be the best place for Finn to grow and develop his game?
TSR: Out of those teams, I think San Jose or Chicago could be a fit. The Sharks don’t really have much skill on defense with their prospects, but the need to really get an impact player would be a lot of pressure on Finn if he was there pick. I could also see Chicago as being a team given that they’re pretty deep up front with prospects and might look towards defense for their pick.
C & B: As always, thanks for your time, Scott.