Maple Leafs sign 2016 draft pick Nicolas Mattinen eight years after selecting him

Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Alex Hobson
12 days ago
In one of the more surprising moves of Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brad Treliving’s tenure, the club announced Sunday that they signed defenceman Nicolas Mattinen to a one-year, two-way contract worth the league minimum of $775,000.
Mattinen, 26, was originally selected by the Maple Leafs in the sixth round of the 2016 NHL draft at 179th overall. The 6-foot-6, 225-pound right-handed defenceman had ten points in 39 games as a member of the OHL’s London Knights in his draft year and played for four different teams during his junior career, spending time with the Flint Firebirds, Hamilton Bulldogs, and Oshawa Generals over a four-year stint in the league. His best year was in his final season split between Hamilton and Oshawa, recording 61 points in 68 games. The Leafs elected not to sign him, and he went on to play for the University of Ottawa for two years.
Following an eight-game stint with the AHL’s Laval Rocket in 2020-21, he went overseas and joined Austria’s VSV EC, finishing the season with 12 goals and 42 points in 46 games. He signed in Germany’s top pro league for the 2023-24 season, joining the DEL’s Straubing Tigers, and finished with 16 goals and 46 points in 52 games, earning him DEL Defenceman of the Year honours.
It’s not unlike the Leafs to dip into the international pool around this time of year, but to see them circle back on a player drafted by the team two regimes ago is a surprising headline, to say the least. Either way, it seems as though Mattinen has revived his hockey career in a sense, and the time overseas seems to have fared well for him. His frame fits the Brad Treliving prototype considering the defencemen he’s brought in since taking over as general manager, with the all-but-official signing of NCAA prospect Cade Webber backing up this trend as well.
At worst, Mattinen doesn’t find his footing with the Leafs and they let go of him following next season. At best, he continues his revival with the Marlies and finds himself as part of the organization beyond next season. Either way, it’s a risk-free signing and one that surely garnered a collective “THAT Nic Mattinen?” from people who follow the draft religiously. Better late than never!

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