TLN Top Twenty Leafs Prospects: #2 Matt Finn

He’s moved up three spots since the 2013 rankings, and coming off a wild season, Guelph Storm defenceman Matt Finn is now our second-ranked prospect in the TLN Top Twenty. 

This past year, in what was his final junior campaign, Finn managed to captain the Storm to a 51-12-4 regular season record, an OHL championship, and eventually to the final game of the Memorial Cup, where they ultimately came up short. Finn’s individual effort is something to behold as well, as he posted 61 points in 66 regular season games, and another 14 in 20 playoff appearances.

While he was hampered by a nagging injury and illness in the season after being drafted by the Leafs in 2012, Finn was clearly a force when healthy and able to put in a full schedule this time around. It’s why he’s jumped from fifth, to third, and now second on this list in a calendar year. 

Originally, Finn was slated as a mid-to-late first rounder prior to his selection with the Leafs. When he dropped to the second round, the team managed to swoop him up and give themselves a 1-2 draft haul of high-end defencemen (with Rielly, of course, being the first). 

We expected Finn to use his second year removed from the draft to dominate junior and put up big numbers, and he’s done it.

Finn is known as a positionally sound defender who can obviously make plays, as is evidenced by his impressive point-total. However, it’s somewhat difficult to predict how his ability to defend will translate to the pro game as he graduates to the Marlies’ blue-line. That’s where we’ll to see if his feet can keep up with his ability to read the ice, as he faces bigger, faster competition. 

There’s an expectation for him to perform right away, but we’re at the point in this list where that’s just going to be the case. His skating is there, but it isn’t a strength like it is for Rielly or Gardiner, who represent the future of puck-movers on the Leafs’ blue-line. Finn can be a part of that if he develops into the top-four option many believe he’ll be, as he is responsible with the puck and can move it well, but isn’t a rusher like those other two.

I don’t see Finn ousting our top prospect over the next year or so, but if he can continue to elevate his game and make his mark with Marlies, he’ll likely hold down this spot on the list. The shot, the ability to make the smart passes, the instinct, it’s all there. Finn just needs to make sure he does the work required to adapt to the pros, and with some potential shuffling of the Leafs’ lineup, he could make his way to the NHL soon.

  • Leafydudetwitter

    It is refreshing to have a Dman to be excited about coming into the marlies system. Rielly bypassed the minors so I exclude him. Imagine having toe homegrown too 4 Dman in 2 years time. Much better than previous decade of inept defensive drafting. I’m not saying plan a parade route by any means, just optimistic about Finn.

  • giproc

    After the first two games of the rookie camp, I’d be moving Finn back a few notches down the list of prospects.

    Finn has plenty of skill, but he’s going to need at least three (possibly 4) years with the Marlies to learn the position at pro level while developing his man strength. He was out of position far too often during the two weekend games and left too many opponents standing in front of his net. He was beat cleanly on the outside frequently and fooled numerous times by the simplest of passing plays. Nerves perhaps?

    The two Swede defenders (Loov & Nilsson) seem much closer at this stage, but I don’t expect any of them to get a sniff of the Leafs until at least the 2016-17 camp.

    Patience is a good thing, but I was hoping that at least one of these three guys would be a little closer to making the bigs. 2016-17 seems like the target.