WIth the Maple Leafs drafting high in both the first and second rounds of the 2012 Entry Draft, there was a very good chance that both would rank quite highly in this edition of the Top 25 Under 25.
There was much discussion and debate over whether the Leafs came away with the exact two prospects that were the best available at the point they were selected. What everyone does agree on is the Leafs grabbed two very talented players who hopefully contribute for years to come.
In the 2nd round, the Leafs went for a local product in defenceman Mattt Finn. The young defender (and Guelph Storm teammate of Leaf draft pick Garret Sparks) debuts on our list at lucky #13.
Finn shot up the draft board through the season, as his strong play for the Storm attracted the attention of scouts across the league. Heading into the draft, many draft experts saw Finn as a player who could possibly sneak into the late first round (Finn was ranked 15th amongst North American skaters on the ISS Final Rankings), so for him to be available for the Leafs in the second round at 35th overall was a stroke of good fortune.
Finn's scouting reports bring to mind the defender selected in the first round in the previous year, Stuart Percy. Finn is considered a two-way defender, capable of playing in both the offensive and defensive zones. Most scouts considered the strengths of his game to be his ability to move up ice with the puck and to read the play as it develops. Finn is also a good skater, which continues the recent trend of emphasizing players with strong skating.
Finn hits a lot of the checkmarks on the list of traits that a modern defenceman needs; the Leafs have been busy in the last two years developing defenceman that are capable of playing in all three zones of the ice.
Finn's ceiling as a player is probably a little lower than some of the other similar defenceman in the system (he was drafted 35th for a reason). Also, he's a cousin of former Leaf Carlo Colaiacavo, so while there's no evidence of Boneitis being genetic that could be a risk.
|Prior Rank||JP Nikota||PPP||Chemmy||SkinnyFish||birky||Plea From A Cat Named Felix||clrkaitken||Rank|
To this point in the countdown we've had a pretty broad range of votes. At almost every position, the vote has been relatively split amongst high or low votes, or has had one or two unusually high or low votes. Finn is actually surprisingly even, with most people voting him in the same range. JP Nikota had the greatest outlier vote, putting Finn well below the rest at #19.
NHL readiness is big for me in these rankings. As some of you may already be aware, when I consider the top 25 players under the age of 25, I don't take into account 'potential'.Based on his offensive output, Matt Finn appears more ready than many other defenders in the Leafs system to make an impact at the professional level. OK, so he's not eligible (as of the old transfer agreement) to play in the AHL, and he is most assuredly a few years away from regular NHL participation, but his offensive totals suggest that he could one day be a significant contributor from the back end.The Guelph Storm were not exactly an OHL powerhouse last season, and so I think it speaks volumes of Finn's abilities that he was able to rack up as many points as he did. We don't have ice time numbers, but I think we can safely assume that he took on a larger role this past season with the team.I have never watched the man play, and so have no real sense of his defensive acumen, but my suspicion is that the Leafs drafted him as an offensive D-man, and that his defensive zone work will have to improve, but for now, I'm happy with him as a second round pick.
On the other end of the spectrum is Plea From A Cat Named Felix, who valued the potential Finn brings to the Leafs and ranked him at 11.
My ranking of Finn at 11 might be a case of "New Hotness" over :Old and Busted"; some of the players around him have been in the Leafs system for a while and I am pretty well anchored in my assessment of them. They're like a ham and cheese sandwich; I know what I am getting and it'll be okay, but I'd kill for a pulled pork.
Matt Finn is the pulled pork sandwich. By all accounts Finn was the best all-around defenceman for the Guelph Storm this season. He played tough minutes in all situations and lead all D in scoring. He projects as more of a two-way/defensive D-man, which is good since the Leafs don't have too many of those.
My expectations for Finn are to be a solid, second pairing guy on the Leafs blue-line. I see him fitting in nicely with a young group that includes Gardiner, Rielly, Blacker and Percy.
Finn is all but certain to return to the Guelph Storm for another season, so between him and potential goalie prospect Sparks, the Storm are worth keeping an eye on for any Leaf fan this year.