European-based prospects usually have the additional challenge of eventually having to come to North America to pursue a NHL career. Some prospects make a move to the Canadian junior leagues or a junior 'A' league ahead of the draft. Some come abroad to get into college. Some will make the move after being picked and when they are ready for the next step in their development. However, not everyone makes this move with the draft involved. Julius Mattila, the subject of today's prospect profile, is one such player.
Who is Julius Mattila?
According to Elite Prospects, Julius Mattila was born on October 7, 1997, which makes him one of the older players in this year's draft. He stands at 5'10" and 159 pounds. He's been playing for Ilves Tampere's youth teams. This past season, he's been with their U-20 team that won the Jr. A SM-liiga title. Here are his stats so far:
His 56 points was the tenth most in the entire youth league and the fourth most on the team. I'm not quite sure if there are additional stats, namely shots on goal, to put those points perspective. Nevertheless, Mattila played a significant role for Ilves' successful season at the U-20 level.
He will not stay in Finland, however. He was committed to Western Michigan University earlier this year. Yet, he recently changed his committment to Boston College. Julius' twin brother Jesper - who was a successful defenseman last season for Ilves' U-20 team - is going there. The twins will go from being lynxes to eagles later this year.
In terms of what Mattila does on the ice, well, there's not much information regarding that. Being an older prospect plus going from unranked to ranked 115th among European skaters by Central Scouting Services means he's not going to garner much attention. However, he will be coming to America. Laura Berestecki at BC Interruption wrote about Julius' commitment and noted that he's quick, he clearly has scoring ability and he's played center for Ilves' U-20 team. I get the sense that he was passed over last year for not being a stand out in the Finnish junior league. He surely so in this season; we'll see whether that was impressive enough to a team's scouts in that area of the world to warrant further consideration.
A Little Video
There is some video of Mattila producing a little bit for the Ilves U-20 squad. These clips come from a user named oh1jari. It's a 4-on-3 situation for Ilves against Ässät that ends up with goal back on January 9 of this year. The Mattila brothers got the assists, pay attention to the center man, #26. That's Julius.
It may be a secondary assist, but you can see how Julius Mattila is used. He didn't win the faceoff, but he managed to keep his opponent from doing so as well. While getting pinned down, the puck is loose for his teammate to fish it loose and for Ilves to get possesion. Mattila stays on the left side and rotates well with the play, as seen when the first shot misses. He made a good pass to Juho Liuksialan right in front, who puts back in his own rebound.
Also from oh1jari, here's a clip from March 31 when Ilves played the Espoo Blues. It's a bit of a longer one, but it does end with a goal.
In this one, you can see Mattila forcing the turnover, not really fighting back for it after it is lost, but then going in late after chipping it in. That last point is crucial as it allowed him to go for a check that freed up the puck for Otto Koivulan to turn into a score. It's a video that shows Mattila helping his team make a stop on defense, skate up ice with speed, and shy away from contact only to make some effective contact later on his shift.
An Opinion of Sorts
I will re-iterate my stance on late round draft picks. I prefer that the Devils take a chance on someone who's been successful in their level of play rather than hope they'll develop into someone to be successful down the road. To that end, Mattila fits that mold. Mattila rose through the youth ranks at Ilves and had a very successful season. He wasn't the top guy there, but he was one of them. The points show that his performances were effective in most of the games he was in. That he's committed to Boston College and will go that route rather than hoping to make the Ilves senior team shows me that he's willing to take a chance on his development. Four years of hockey for Mattila at BC may yield a player worth looking at the minor professional level - and maybe beyond that. These are the positives.
From the few clips that are out there on him, I can see why he would be rated so low or not at all in most services' eyes. He's definitely not big. He's definitely not physical. He can be quick but he's not exceptionally fast. While he's 18, he's older than most prospects eligible for this year's draft. As much as I'm encouraged that he's coming to North America to play, I would think he'll need to spend plenty of time there. So I'm left thinking he's a long shot of a selection. If the Devils want to take him in the seventh round, then I would think that's fine. At least Mattila has been successful with Ilves' youth teams. I'd take a chance on that bearing out as a project than someone who wasn't so productive.
What do you make of Julius Mattila as a prospect and a potential late draft pick for the Devils? Do you think he could be a good find late in the draft? Do you prefer players who have been successful in their leagues for late round picks like I do? Most of all, if you saw him play with Ilves, what did you think of him? Please leave your and other thoughts about Mattila in the comments. Thank you for reading.