When you scroll through the list of NHL Central Scouting for the first round you’ll find defenceman Matthew Finn sitting in the 16th position of North American skaters. If you take a few minutes to talk with the guy who might be just a number to many, you’ll find a down to earth, confident and composed young man who seems to have a solid understanding of the value and hard work that it takes to become a hockey player.
The 18-year-old, Toronto product just wrapped up his second season with the Guelph Storm of the Ontario Hockey League. The blueliner put up impressive numbers with 10 goals, 38 assists for 48 points in 61 games, a big improvement from his rookie season tallying three goals and 18 assists. Some of that likely to be explained by his added minutes and his strong ability to quarterback the power play.
“I’m a two-way defenceman and this year I quarterbacked the power play and shut down guys in our own end on the penalty kill as well,” explained Finn at the NHL Scouting Combine. “I think I have a good hockey IQ. I can read the game really well and make nice passes to open up seams and I’m a guy who can play big minutes in all situations.”
Finn had a busy week at the Scouting Combine as he met with all but three NHL teams that wanted to know more about him.
“It was a lot of fun and a really good experience,” he said of the interview process. “You get to meet a lot of people high up in the hockey world its kind of eye –opening. Everyone knows what kind of player you are so I think they’re looking at if you know what kind of player you are and what you can be in the future hopefully as well as your character and who you are as a person is huge for these organizations.
“The NHL isn’t just about hockey it’s about developing great people too and a lot of teams are looking for that.”
It’s no secret that the 2012 draft class is stacked with high-end defencemen but Finn didn’t seem too stressed out about the fact and says he’ll just focus on what he can control.
“You try not to look at it,” he commented on the rankings. “You do what you can throughout the season to put yourself in the best position possible for the draft and for your future as a hockey player.
“I think you just have to play your game. You just have to play the game that got you here, work hard and stay disciplined throughout the year and be ready to give yourself the best shot to make that team come September.”
The draft is just days away and the excitement and anticipation is building by the day for all prospects in the draft class.
“I remember years ago just watching the draft and seeing everyone go through it and now that you’re here and it’s you in the limelight and in that situation, it’s pretty cool.”
Like most Canadian born hockey players, Finn said it would be a dream come true to be selected by a Canadian team and shared his positive thoughts on if Winnipeg were the team that called his name.
“A hockey market like Winnipeg is unbelievable, even watching games there and being able to see the atmosphere. It would be an unbelievable city to play in from a hockey point of view and it’s a great city as well. I got to visit it for the Under 17 Championships a couple years back and it was an awesome city and the people there are great. So, if Winnipeg was the one to call my name I’d be extremely fortunate.”
His best piece of advice about becoming a professional hockey player?
“The value of hard work and where it can get you in a career,” said Finn. “We had Scott Walker come in and talk to us. He made a career on hard work and grittiness. You can have all the skill in the world but if you don’t want it then you’re not working hard enough and you’re not going to get there.”