Matias Maccelli is a Finnish born winger that exploded in the USHL this season after joining the Dubuque Fighting Saints midway through the 2017-18 campaign. His 72 points this season were 22 points above Dubuque’s second place scorer, Riese Gaber, illustrating how much of an impact Maccelli had on their offence.
Maccelli’s game is not without flaws, but the kid just wouldn’t stop scoring this season and thus should be considered an intriguing option in the middle part of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.
- Age/Birthdate: 18 / October 14, 2000
- Birthplace: Turku, Finland
- Frame: 5-foot-11 / 170 lbs
- Position: Left Wing
- Handedness: Left
- Draft Year Team: Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL)
- USHL Second All-Star Team
2018-19 Stat Rundown
|GP||G||A||P||INV%||5v5 Pr INV%||5v5 ePr60||SEAL||Sh/GP||Sh%||5v5 eTOI||GF%||GF%rel||GD60 rel||XLS%||Top XLS%||XPR|
I have found Maccelli to be a very hard player to get a full read on. At times, he appears a fantastically skilled played that is a wizard with the puck, but at other times major flaws are exposed.
On the offensive side of the game, he thinks the game extremely well and balances a combination of shooting and playmaking prowess to create offence in a variety of ways. His major strength is his ability to dangle and stickhandle with the puck; he is quick, elusive, and decisive. He can handle the puck effortlessly in tight spaces or while in transition, forcing opponents to be constantly moving. This talent has a tendency to wow you multiple times in a single contest.
His awareness of his teammates while entering the zone is something that stands out every time he crosses his opponents’ blue line. Add that to the fact that if is given time and space, he shows extreme patience and moves around the zone to create passing lanes well.
Maccelli’s skating more relies on being agile and adjusting lanes rather than straight line speed. Ideally, he will need to improve his acceleration and top speed to be successful at the next level.
This clip illustrates his zone entries, passing, awareness and skating flaws all in one clip:
The overriding theme to his offensive games is that he has skill for days and is really noticeable when he has the puck. The flaws begin to appear when he doesn’t have possession.
First, Maccelli can appear to be floating at times and lacks compete on loose pucks. He instead relies on hanging outside the battle and waiting for the puck to come loose. If it doesn’t bounce out his way, he likely won’t be the one chasing after it. At times it can appear that he is just conserving energy, but the cumulative effect of it suggests there is need for improvement here. Even just chasing the puck carrier to force things would be constitute such an improvement.
An example of this comes after he has a great chance in front of Muskegon’s net:
He appears to chase after the opponent but then just stops skating. That lack of compete is a leading factor in his other major flaw: his defensive zone play. He sticks to his zone coverage and lets things happen around him. If the puck is loose and within reach, he’ll go for it but not with a ton of resolve.
Both of those areas are why he isn’t being ranked higher in this draft class.
Maccelli’s 72 points this season was tied with Erik Haula for the most points by any Finnish born player in USHL history, beating out the likes of Eeli Tolvanen. Those points, along with the rest of his statistical profile, produce the following pGPS cohort:
A 16% likelihood of of NHL success might not sound flashy, but it is a decent rate for a mid-to-late round flyer, where drafted players are lucky to break 10%. We should also consider the added context that the USHL has been trending upwards as a feeder league over the last couple of decades; as a result of comparing against some weaker years historically, pGPS has a tendency to underrate some USHL prospects.
That thought process is reinforced by his SEAL adjusted points per game; his 1.03 SEAL adjusted scoring rate ranked 30th among our first-time draft eligible sample.
Maccelli ended the 2018-19 season with the third most points in the USHL and 2nd in points per game among first time draft eligible (at least, once you take the U.S. Nation Team Development Program out of the equation he is) . Every offensive category had him producing at the top of the draft class and at a high end first line rate.
Dubuque wasn’t great this season and as a result their underlying numbers don’t paint the most positive picture.
Maccelli made his most common linemates better, as they improved with him relative to without him; but that success trends downwards as you get down the line.
His production wasn’t fantastic but it’s clear that he had a wide range of linemates throughout the season, and they came with varying degrees of success.
Ultimately, there is little to quibble about his offensive capabilities and skills but there are some reasons to be concerned about the when that he doesn’t have the puck. He needs to be more engaged, he needs to be better in the defensive zone, and he needs to clean up his skating.
The one benefit that he does have is that he will be heading back to Finland to play in Liiga next season, which means that the drafting team will retain his rights until the fourth June 1st after this draft (as per Article 8.6b (i) in the NHL CBA). That means that he will be able to have a longer development curve and work on those flaws to his game. The flipside is that those issues may exacerbate while playing on the larger ice surface.
Time will tell on that front.
Maccelli is someone who is worth a late round flyer; with a little patience his offensive skills will allow him to fine tune his issues and work out as a middle six winger in the NHL.
Rolling Season Data
Raw data for the charts used in this article came from eliteprospects.com and USHL.com
Some clips were pulled from videos from prospectshifts.com. Check out Matias Maccelli page here (paywall). Other clips were pulled from original broadcasts, with all rights reserved for the original broadcast companies.
Founder and analyst for NextGenHockey.ca — Contributor to The Athletic Vancouver, EliteProspects, CanucksArmy, and Canucks.com.
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