The Top 25 Under 25 is a collaboration by members of the Die By The Blade community. It was a combination of six staff writers and over 500 readers that ranked players under the age of 25 by September 1st, 2019. Each participant used their own metric of current ability and production to rank each player.
After being given the chance to pick up franchise defenseman, Rasmus Dahlin with the first overall pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, Jason Botterill and his team were not yet satisfied with their additions to the blueline. When it was time to make the clubs’ second selection in the draft, at 32nd overall, they decided to call out Mattias Samuelssons’ name.
Another Swedish defenseman, you may ask? Not really. He does have Swedish parents, and his dad Kjell played over 800 games in the NHL, winningthe Stanley Cup with Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991, but Mattias was born and raised in Voorhees, NJ. At the time, Kjell was working as an assistant coach for the Philadelphia Phantoms.
Like his father, Mattias is a big defenseman (6’4”/220) who does not shy away from laying his body into opponents. After getting into the US National Team Development Program, he added around 22 pounds to his body. “When I arrived, I was just skin and bones” he said to NHL.com in November 2017.
#NTDP Alumni Update. Western Michigan's Mattias Samuelsson takes out Denver forward Tyler Ward with a crushing check just past center red.— Stars n’ Stripes Hockey (@StarsStripesHKY) January 26, 2019
The Broncos downed the Pioneers 3-1 in a key NCHC matchup on Friday night. @WMUHockey #Sabres pic.twitter.com/OBtaj9Y1OK
Aside from his big frame, Samuelsson has developed his game with the puck and improved his skating, given his size. The left-handed blueliner is mostly praised for his ability in the defensive zone, but is getting more and more involved in the offensive side of the game, picking up twelve points (including five goals), during his first year with Western Michigan University which ranked him third-best among the team’s defensemen.
After serving as captain for the United States at the U18 WJC in 2018 (where his team ended up with a silver medal), just like in last years WJC, Samuelsson will get another big role in the upcoming season as he is slated to get a ‘C’ sewn onto his jersey at Western Michigan. Given his continued development in the NCAA, where he made strides in his game overall last season, he looks like a potential top-four defensive defenseman, just like his father.