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PPP's Top 25 Under 25 - #7 Matt Finn

Finn leads the Guelph Storm to within a game of a Memorial Cup championship, and moves up one spot in our list as he departs for the Marlies.

Matt Finn's last year in the OHL was definitely one to remember.

As captain of the Guelph Storm, Finn led the team through an incredibly tough battle in the OHL's Western Conference (home to arguably four of the league's best five teams), setting them up as a threat to earn the league's berth in the Memorial Cup.

Then in the playoffs, they blasted the hosts (and two-time league champion) London and a highly skilled Erie team (led by phenom Connor McDavid and Leaf prospect Connor Brown), before rolling through surprise Eastern finalist North Bay to claim the J.J. Robertson Cup.

Guelph ultimately came up one game short of winning the Memorial Cup, losing in the final to the WHL champion Edmonton Oil Kings. However, for Finn, he finished up his junior career in about as fine fashion as he could have hoped for, and put Leaf fans on notice he intends to compete for a spot on the Leafs blueline sooner rather than later. At #7, Finn moves up one spot over last year.

Birthyear: 1994-02-24 Birthplace: Etobicoke, ON, CAN
Age: 20 Nation: Canada
Position: D Shoots: L
Height: 185 cm / 6'1" Weight: 93 kg / 205 lbs
Youth Team: Toronto Marlboros Contract: 16/17
Drafted: 2012 round 2 #35 overall by Toronto Maple Leafs

The Leafs were pretty happy to see Finn fall to them at the beginning of 2012's 2nd round, giving them a great pair of young, talented defence (along with 1st round pick Morgan Rielly). And while captain of the Guelph Storm the last two seasons, Finn's shown a lot of the tools that make him such a tantalizing prospect.

Displaying his well-rounded game, and logging lots of minutes for the Storm, Finn racked up 61 points in the regular season, and added 14 points as the Storm rolled through the OHL playoffs. What separates Finn from the defensive prospects we've looked at so far is the offensive component to his game; Finn has good passing skills and a good shot, and understands when to jump in on offence and when to concentrate on defence. He has a very well-balanced game with a lot of raw skill, which is why he was considered a potential first round selection.

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Finn leaves junior hockey behind this year, and unless training camp brings a massive surprise, a year of seasoning in the AHL with the Toronto Marlies (A sweater he's indirectly worn before, having come through the vaunted Toronto Marlboros minor hockey program). Finn is one of four new faces expected to battle for ice time on a Marlies defence full of young pros.

If all continues to go well, the Leafs might have managed to build a major portion of their future defence core through the 2012 draft, if Rielly and Finn can continue to develop into top four D. Rielly seems well on his way, and while Finn may take a little longer, he's one of the few guys the Leafs have with that sort of potential.

Name birky BowerPower Burtch Chemmy clrkaitken Nikota PPP SkinnyFish 67 Sound FINAL RANK
Matt Finn 8 6 11 10 8 7 8 5 8 7
Previous Ranking 7 10 10 10 13 8 11 6 9 8

Much like yesterday with Josh Leivo, this part of the countdown is tougher to make major moves up. As a result, Finn improved slightly on most lists, and was seen virtually across the board as a Top 10 choice (Burtch the only one leaving him out).

Along with Stuart Percy, I think Finn is one of the two d-men in the Leafs system who weren't in the NHL yet but could be. Finn was considered a steal in the 2nd round and so far it looks like he's outperformed his draft spot. - Chemmy

Last year I had concerns about the knee injury taking away a big chunk of key development time. Finn was instrumental to everything Guelph did this season, and he proved he's ready for the next level. - clrkaitken