According to the Chinese Zodiac , the year of 2012 is the Year of the Dragon. In the hockey world, the 2012 NHL Entry Draft is shaping up to be loaded with top calibre defenseman, one of which just happens to be a (London) Knight and looking to battle the 2012 draft class dragons all the way to the top of the list. The Dean's List continues to highlight top prospects eligible for the 2012 NHL Draft and this week our attention turns to the first overall selection in the 2011 CHL Import Draft – Finnish defenseman Olli Määttä.
The London Knights have been the class act of the Ontario Hockey League ever since the Hunter brothers grabbed the reigns and it's been a franchise known to be very aggressive in acquiring talent. On June 29th, London continued their pursuit of top notch talent and made a bold trade with the Barrie Colts to acquire the first overall selection of the 2011 CHL Import Draft. Many people believed that 2012 top prospect Mikhail Grigorenko was their target but Mark Hunter passed over the budding star forward as well as Carolina Hurricanes' prospect Victor Rask to select Olli Määttä – the young defender from Jyvaskyla, Finland. Selecting Määttä was a good choice for the young London Knights franchise as Määttä had expressed his interest in coming to Canada to pursue his NHL dream. Celebrating his seventeeth birthday a few weeks ago, London gets several years out of Määttä rather than potentially losing a player like Grigorenko after one season.
Olli Määttä's stock has been rising quickly since being named to his country's team for the 2011 Under-20 World Junior Championship last year as the youngest player ever for Team Finland. While his minutes were limited as a freshman, Määttä was able to briefly display his his calm, cool and collected style of play that scouts have come to love about him. In the same year, Määttä played a more vital role for the 2011 Under-18 Finland team where he registered a goal and four points (in six games) on his way to being named as one of Finland's top three players. The six-foot-two-inch defenseman projects to be a solid two-way defender capable of doing it all – hitting, defending and contributing offensively when needed as well. Olli has shown that his strongest assets are his size, physicality and ability to keep his opponents in check using very good body positioning. Määttä will certainly need to improve his skating for him to fully reach his potential as his acceleration and top end speed are quite average at this point.